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Avnet Electronics Marketing Helps Bring Rugged Ultra Mobile PC to Market


PHOENIX -- In 2005 Justin Dyster and Shane Lewis saw a need for a rugged handheld computer that was a little more advanced than anything else currently available on the market. The two engineers left the major defense and aerospace systems contractor they worked for, moved from Tucson to Chandler, Arizona, and began their quest to design and build the world’s first rugged ultra mobile PC. They turned to Avnet Electronics Marketing for help getting off the ground. Now their company, Black Diamond Advanced Technology, is set to bring the SwitchBack Ultra Mobile PC to market.

Larger than a PDA but more compact than a tablet PC, the SwitchBack is designed and built around military specifications to withstand extreme shock, moisture, vibration, dust and extreme temperatures. It is designed to meet an Ingress Protection (IP) rating of IP67 (designated for ultra rugged designs), which classifies the level of protection that the electronics casing provides against the intrusion of solid objects or dust, accidental contact and water.

One might think that getting the backing and support of suppliers and distributors to produce such a product would be easy. However, being a small start-up company left the founders with limited resources to put product on the shelf. Avnet Electronics Marketing recognized Black Diamond’s vision and helped the company with parts procurement and samples, and provided field applications engineers for technical support -- all under tight time constraints. ’Avnet really demonstrates how it looks past the pocketbook and issues like minimum quantity orders, in order to recognize the vision of its entrepreneurial customers and act like a technology partner,’ said Justin Dyster, president and co-founder of Black Diamond. ’What the Avnet team has done really says a lot about how it is truly helping to identify and promote disruptive innovations in the marketplace.’

’Avnet is really proud to play such an integral role in getting Black Diamond and the SwitchBack PC off the ground,’ said Ed Smith, senior vice president of sales for Avnet Electronics Marketing Americas. ’It’s exciting to see a product evolve from the design stage, to production, to being utilized in the marketplace. Avnet is committed to helping Black Diamond and other small companies just like it make their dreams come to fruition through the design chain and supply chain products and services we provide.’

Additionally, Avnet will provide supply chain support as the company brings its product to market. ’As we move forward we see the partnership between Black Diamond and Avnet being one that is very strong and one we will grow and nurture as we move forward,’ added Dyster.

Weighing just three pounds, and small enough to fit inside a cargo pant pocket, SwitchBack gives users the power of a desktop computer in the portability of a handheld. Users include a broad spectrum of field workers from the public safety, military, warehousing and logistics, and field service industries. All need a device that is ruggedized and will work in extremely cold temperatures or the scorching hot temperatures of the Middle East. In addition to being ultra mobile and ultra rugged, the SwitchBack is also extremely versatile. The SwitchBack can add to it just about any device a user needs with its customized BackPack Module. For example, a police officer might customize the device with a BackPack that is used to scan a driver’s license barcode, photograph a crime scene, process a thumbprint or be used as a breathalyzer.

The first SwitchBack is expected to roll off the assembly line between late August and early September and the company plans to build 3,000 units in the 2007 calendar year. For more information on Black Diamond and the SwitchBack PC, please visit


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