LSA Field IT Equipment Evaluation and Demonstration Program

Mobile hardware and software for your field work, whether it is using GIS, gathering data outdoors, conducting door-to-door surveys, or visiting archives. Researchers can borrow and evaluate state-of-the-art IT solutions, as well as receive guidance on best-practices; a try-before-you-buy approach.

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For questions or assistance related to this service

Please contact the LSA IT Service Desk
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The LSA Field IT Equipment Evaluation and Demonstration Program provides members of the LSA community the opportunity to evaluate specialized IT solutions for field work before they invest their own funds.   It also offers guidance and best practices on using IT in the field, gleaned from first-hand experience assisting LSA instructors and researchers, shared by your LSA colleagues, and from educational and academic community sources.

We regularly add and replace equipment in our equipment pool based on feedback from members of the LSA community. If you have any comments or suggestions regarding the equipment you would like to see available, please contact

We also encourage you to share with us your experiences with using IT in the field, in order to help expand and keep the best practices and guidance we share with your LSA colleagues up to date!


The equipment listed below is generally available to members of the LSA community for loan periods of up to one week. It is intended to be used for evaluation and demonstration purposes, rather than actual teaching or research; however, using equipment under realistic conditions is encouraged.

As of November 2016, our holdings include:

Computers and Tablets:

  • Panasonic Toughpad FZ-G1 -- This tablet computer is purpose-built as a ruggedized device, so it can operate under an extended range of heat, cold, and humidity conditions. It is a full Windows computer, so it can ran any Windows software you might desire to have in the field with you. In addition to its touch screen, it also has an active stylus.
  • Microsoft Surface Pro -- This tablet device is also a full Windows computer, like the Panasonic Toughpad, however, it is generally not suitable for harsh field environments. In addition to its touch screen, it also has an active stylus, and a detachable keyboard, which makes it easy to use as either a tablet or laptop.
  • iPad and iPad Mini -- These tablets from Apple are well-suited to field work for many projects.  They are not ruggedized by design, however, various cases and ergonomic attachment options make them suitable for field work under a variety of conditions.
    • Note: for work under extreme environmental conditions, a ruggedized case is generally not sufficient, and you need to consider a device designed specifically for operation under such conditions, such as the Panasonic Toughpad listed above.
    • Note: If you need to collect geo-location (i.e., GPS) data as part of your field work, make sure to purchase a cellular-enabled iPad.  You do not need a cellular plan to use the make use of the device's GPS, however, only cellular-equipped models of the iPad include an actual GPS receiver.  Non-cellular models rely on WiFi for their location data, which is much less accurate, and when are not on WiFi will not work at all.  (If you have a non-cellular iPad, but need accurate GPS data, there are some external Bluetooth GPS receivers which can be used with iPads.)
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 -- An example of an Android tablet suited to field work for many projects.  It is not ruggedized by design, however, various Android tablets have ruggedized cases and ergonomic attachments options, which make them suitable for field work under a variety of conditions, (i.e., Xplore XSlate D10)
    • Note: It can be challenging to find a ruggedized case for a particular Android tablet model, as there are a wide variety of Android devices being manufactured, and not all reach a volume of units sufficient to elicit interest from suppliers of ruggedized cases.
  • Google Glass -- In the field Glass excels at hands-free photography and video. You can use it to quickly and easily capture reference photos, while your hands are  occupied with other tasks. You can shot first-person video, with benefits like being able to gesture and point to things in-frame. You can also use Google Hangouts to provide real-time tours and interactive outreach sessions, or maybe get help troubleshooting a problem with a piece of equipment that needs to be seen by a remote collaborator.
  • Microsoft Hololens -- Provides an augmented reality environment, overlying your data or models on a real-world view. You might use it view data from previous excavation layers while carrying out new work at your field site. You might generate a table-top 3D model of your field site that you can explore in your office. You might use it to overlay information on the world around you as move about.

Scanning Devices:

  • VuPoint Wand Scanner (PDS-ST442-VP - Platform independent) -- This scanner is highly portable, at 1.1 by 10.1 by 1.2 inches (HWD) and 6.9 ounces, complete with two AA batteries. Like other current-generation VuPoint Solutions wand scanners, it offers a 1050 pixel per inch (ppi) optical resolution and comes with Abbyy FineReader 9.0 Sprint, a reasonably capable OCR program.  Runs on two supplied AA batteries and plug in a memory card with a maximum 32GB capacity. Installing FineReader on your computer is optional.  In addition to letting you view your scans, menu choices on the PDS-ST441-VP let you set the scanner resolution to 300, 600, or 1050 dpi; set the file format to JPG or PDF; and set the color mode to color or mono (which translates to grayscale, rather than black and white).
  • LG Mouse Scanner (LSM-100 - Mac or Windows) -- It’s a fully functional mouse that with the click of a button becomes a scanner that can scan documents and images up to A3 size at up to 320dpi.  It requires software to be installed for scanning.  The software does OCR to a variety of languages.
  • IRIScan Mouse Scanner (Windows only) -- It's a fully functional mouse that with a click of button becomes a scanner.  It requires software and works best on single pages and scans up to A3 at up to 400dpi.  It has up to 130 languages that it supports in it's OCR software.

Alternative Power Sources:

  • GoalZero Solar Power System (Escape 30M Solar Panel Briefcase; Escape 150 Explorer Pack battery) -- This setup is good for recharging one laptop and a couple smart phones each night under typical weather conditions.  Borrow it to get a feel for how a solar power system works, how sensitive it is to various weather conditions (still works fairly well on a cloudy Michigan day), and how it works for charging the equipment you'll be taking to the field.
Who can use the service?: 

This program is managed by the LSA IT Advocacy and Research Support team, and is available to all LSA personnel involved in the academic mission of the College.

Where can the service be used?: 

The equipment is not intended to be used for research purposes, however, you are encouraged to try it out under realistic field conditions.

Rates & Pricing: 

This is no cost associated with borrowing equipment or scheduling a demonstration.  Equipment is generally loaned for up to a week at a time.

Related Categories: 
User Groups: 
IT Professionals
LSA Units