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Trimble TSC5 vs Spectra Ranger 5 Controllers Compared | Positioning Solutions

Spectra Geospatial is a Trimble brand of land surveying and mapping products which include GNSS, GPS, total stations, data collectors as well as software. For the most part, products under the Spectra brand are developed for the Spectra brand only – i.e. they’re not Trimble products painted blue. The one exception to this rule has been, and continues to be, the Spectra Ranger data collectors.

Spectra Geospatial Ranger 5

Spectra Geospatial RANGER 5  | Positioning Solutions

The Spectra Ranger 5 is the latest controller from Spectra Geospatial. Utilizing the same hardware and form factor as the Trimble TSC5, the Ranger 5 is an Android-based controller with 5-inch screen, 2.2 GHz Qualcomm SDA660 processor, 4 GB of RAM and 64MB of storage.

At just over 2 pounds it’s a lightweight ultra-rugged field computer with excellent battery performance. Android OS is built specifically for mobile devices and runs flawlessly with Trimble Access and Siteworks. Google Chrome, Google Search and YouTube bring familiar applications to the field.

The Ranger 5 also features a single EMPOWER communications port which accepts Trimble EMPOWER modules like the EM120 (2.4GHz radio module for Trimble and Spectra Geospatial robotic instruments).

Optional 4G LTE (WWAN)

The Ranger 5 is currently offered in two configurations: With or without internal cellular modem. The cellular version WWAN (which stands for wireless wide area network) offers Worldwide 4G LTE with 3G fallback, AT&T and Verizon certified.

Both versions of the Ranger 5 offer dual-band, blazing-fast Wi-Fi connectivity, so you can still use your separate phone as a hotspot and save $500 on the Wi-Fi only version.

Ranger 5 / TSC5 Key Features:

  • Backlit QWERTY keypad with programmable Function keys
  • Bright, anti-glare 5-inch touchscreen, finger, stylus or glove compatible
  • Fast & powerful 2.2GHz Qualcomm processor
  • All day battery (up to 16 hours per charge)
  • Rugged: IP65 and military spec rated (MIL-STD-810H)
  • Android 10 Operating System with GMS (Google Mobile Services)
  • Bluetooth 5 & Dual-band Wi-Fi (2.4 GHz b/g/n/ac & 5.0 GHz a/n/ac)
  • Integrated GNSS: GPS/ GLONASS/BeiDou/Galileo/QZSS
  • EMPOWER module compatible (1 x bay)
  • 13 MP Rear Facing Camera
  • Light weight: 2.06 pounds (934 g)
  • WWAN, 4G LTE, Verizon and AT&T certified**(**optional feature)

Field Software Compatibility:

Both the Ranger 5 and TSC5 are compatible with the following Trimble software:

  • Trimble Access 2021 and newer | Ranger 5 / TSC5
  • Trimble Siteworks ver 1.42 and newer | Ranger 5 / TSC5
  • Spectra Geospatial Origin | Ranger 5 ( not tested on TSC5)
  • Survey Pro | Not compatible yet… (Survey Pro is currently supported on Windows OS only)

GNSS / Total station Compatibility

TSC5 / Ranger 5 Empower bay com port

The Ranger 5 is compatible with a wide range of Trimble and Spectra hardware. Hardware compatibility is determined by the field software you choose. For example, Access 2021 is compatible with early Trimble GPS receivers like the 5700 and 5800 up to the latest R12i GNSS, as well as a variety of SPS and Spectra receivers and instruments, like the SPS986 and SP60.

Trimble has documented Bluetooth connectivity issues on older receivers like the 5800 and R8 Model 2, as the Bluetooth board in these receivers is quite old and not upgradable.  The good news is that Trimble has released receiver firmware 5.37 which corrects this issue for receivers like the R8-3, R8-4 and R8s.  5.37 is also compatible with the R4-3, R6-3 and R6-4 and is a free upgrade for the receivers mentioned above - as long as the receiver was purchased or was under software support in 2010. 

TSC5 / Ranger 5 Support Links:

Total station compatibility of the Ranger 5 is also determined by which field software you select, so running Access 2021 you'll be ready to run any S series instrument from the S3 to the S9, VX and SX10 / SX12 - as well as a handful of SPS instruments like the SPS620 and the SPS930.  Siteworks will open additional functionality to the SPS instruments and Origin will of course run the Focus 30 to Focus 50.  With any of the mentioned instruments, you'll also need to add the EM120 EMPOWER module with 2.4GHz radio. 

So Why Buy a Ranger 5 vs TSC5?

Because choosing the right controller can save you $500. While the TSC5 is offered in a single configuration (WWAN), the Spectra Geospatial Ranger 5 is offered in two configurations; WWAN - which includes an internal 4G cellular modem, or Wi-Fi only. The Wi-Fi Ranger 5 is $500 less than the WWAN version (and TSC5).

Additionally, the Wi-Fi Ranger 5 is built to accept the Sierra Wireless EM7565 network card, which is a PCI Express M.2 standard, so you can choose to add it at a later time - which might be a wise choice considering the rapid growth of 5G networks. 

Buy Ranger 5 Wi-Fi >>

Buy Ranger 5 4G LTE >>

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