I am curious what some people here have to say on this since this field seems to be rapidly changing as far as hardware goes lately. Some of these things may be software dependent, but the hardware is my main concern.
I am looking to design a rugged smaller color display (3-8") to update some information from a control system for a user interface.
After digging into this there seems to be a very large amount of options available.
Android Application with a tablet. (touchscreen not ideal for environment and not a lot of options for durable/quality hardware)
Low level micro I am familiar with like a STM32 and TFT display (possibly underpowered, low level implementation)
Panel PC (Very costly from what I have seen, but can use existing code, native OS)
Something similar to a Beagleboard with an OMAP or similar processor running Linux or Android (cheap, linux heavy software, high design cost/time overhead)
We already have a GUI designed in Qt running on Windows. So something in Linux should be doable using a similar software base and familiar tools.
I have done plenty of designs with STM32 and other similar micros, but these higher end micros do have some complications regarding BGAs, and higher frequency lines and just sheer massive amounts of I/O to deal with. Have seen some off the shelf production options here to consider though.
Any ideas on where to go with a design like this?
Good points in the comments. This is going to be standalone powered from a 12-24V DC system typically attached to an engine/generator so low power is not the biggest concern. Will communicate to the existing controller via RS-232 (or bluetooth converter for android case). Some applications are outdoors, but most cases where these would be used are well lit and inside, but a back-light of some sort will likely be needed.
Looking to display data with some sort of graphical widgets. So similar to a tachometer type representation, raw textual data will likely be used as well. Other options would be considered if economical. Currently have a 128x64 mono working, but cost-wise is hard to compete with a tablet in production or these higher end (and resolution) options.