Will the Motorola Motoblur pass us by in a blur?

19 10 2009

Motorola recently announced the launch of their new Android phone, describing it as a new and innovative solution to broaden their range of mobile devices.  Sounds great until you hear the name, Motoblur. I’m not sure what the thinking was behind this and Motorola’s marketing campaign, but it’s not a great start. I just hope the phone is more ground breaking.

It takes on a similar sort of format to the Apple iPhone, with programmes and applications put on the front homepage. Motorola have put more emphasis on the social aspect, putting the social web applications on the home page, enabling you to update all of your statuses in a flash. The Motoblur has a “Happenings Application” which lists all of your friend’s updates from each of your social sites. This is a great application to keep you updates with all the social happenings in a flash without having to load up the main social web page.

The messaging works in a similar way to the Apple iPhone, with your messages strung together. Only difference is you don’t have to click in and out of different message to read mail from different email addresses and texts. The Motoblur messaging app also allows you to read messages sent direct from social sites like Twitter and Facebook. This is a really good idea to keep you updated with everything that is happening and messages without having to flick through several screens to keep updated for different accounts.

Motorola have developed a new security feature which allows the user to lock down their Motoblur phone directly by logging on to their Motorola account online. They are also able to see where the phone is using the GPS chip. If it has been lost and now shows on the map it is 100 miles away, the user is able to lock the device so the person who has taken it has no access to any information like contacts emails, and social sites.

I think this is a really great move forward in putting the control in to the hands of the user and allowing them to track their Motoblur phone and manually lock it down when they think it is stolen. I can’t think of the amount of times myself or my friends have lost our phones either in the house or elsewhere and we have wondered if it has been lost or stolen, when we are out or we have just put it down in the house and now can’t find it. This is really great as it gives you piece of mind without the worrying and searching for your phone when you have no idea where it is.

The Motorola Motoblur boasts a 5 megapixel camera and the ability to take snaps and upload them on to Facebook, or Twitter or any other site. This is a great and easy way of keeping in touch and keeping your friends updated with what you are up to. The Motoblur cuts out the hassle of connecting your phone to the pc and working out how to sync it up and then upload all the pics. Motorola have definitely got this right targeting those who haven’t got the technical ability or just don’t have time to do it the old-fashioned way.

As well as all of these features, the Motorola Motoblur is access to Google maps, Google calendar and other apps online. Even though I still think the name is poor and Motorola could have done a lot better, the speciation and the apps that are on the Motoblur definitely make up for this. Motorola Motoblur is definitely the phone for anyone who is addicted to the social sites and making sure they are up to date with all the gossip and happenings that are going on with their friends or followers. The upside however does have a downside, the Motoblur is designed for those who are in to the social scene, it is just not going to appeal to those who are not, and this is where the iPhone is positioned in the market. Overall I think this is a good phone and has taken a niche in the market, just change the name of it!

The Rugged and Mobile blog.





Bokode Revolution

17 10 2009

I recently read a news article online about a company who have developed a new type of barcode that is revolutionary in encoding visual information. It is designed to revolutionise the way information is encoded and items are tagged.

There are three ways, up until now, of encoding visual information. The first is through ordinary imagery, the second through temporal variations like flashing lights, or moving images, and finally, using fibre-optic systems using variations in light wavelength. The Bokode way of encoding would use a standard camera altered so it focuses on infinity, rather than on a particular object in front of it. This means that it is able to pick up the tiny Bokode on an object, which would otherwise be almost invisible to the naked eye.

The barcode, or Bokode, as it is called is tiny compared to the standard size of say a 1D barcode. It is designed to overcome the problem of identifying an object without having to place a one inch sized barcode on it and thus making it an aesthetically pleasing. For example a museum may want to identify their artefacts, but they cannot put a large 1D barcode, like you see in the supermarket, on to the object as it would interfere with the look of the object to visitors.

Unlike a traditional barcode, a camera can only read a portion of the barcode at one particular time. The Bokode pattern can hold the identification code of the object, and other information, such as description. The barcode is tiled and each of the codes holds information on the object.

This new development in barcode technology is still in the early stages and has a long way to come but this is something that could be widely used if it takes off. Museums would be able to identify and track their artefacts without compromising on appearance. Customers would be able to use their own camera to read the barcodes on items in the store, and it would greatly help in mapping streets, with shops having the tiny barcode on the shop front.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wG7vXI1I1wg

The Rugged and Mobile blog.





Introducing the HF RFID Module for Ikôn Psion Teklogix

8 10 2009

Psion say that their Psion “Ikôn is a sleek, compact, rugged PDA that delivers performance and durability in a pocket-size package.”

Psion Ikon RFID Reader

They’re not wrong either  and our customers really like it when they get to see it.

The new HF RFID module for Ikôn provides more flexibility to Ikôn users looking to add RFID functionality to their current solution and the HF module supports High Frequency RFID standards, making it the ideal device for asset tracking, transportation, utilities, and courier and postal applications.

It’s an easy to use sleeve that slides tightly over the bottom end of Ikôn — maintaining Natural Task Support™, the best ergonomics in the business. Side access to the DC jack is provided for easy charging and the module supports two Secure Access Modules (SAM) which can be used for both security and to store data encryption algorithms for highly secured transactions.

We’ll try and get this reviewed as soon as we can get one from the manufacturer but contact us here at Rugged and Mobile today to learn more and get some great advice on RFID in general.

The Rugged and Mobile blog.





Can the Janam XM66 Walk the Walk?

6 10 2009
Janam XM66

Janam XM66

This weekend I’ve been busy looking at a few rugged PDA’s but more on them at a later date. One of these was one of the first Janam XM66′s to hit UK shores and although I have some fantastic kit undergoing testing here tonight, this little rugged PDA was the one I most wanted to see.

Why? Well the XM65, which I believe will continue to go on sale until further notice maintaining the Windows Mobile 5.0 option, was a great device. If I was talking cars then the XM65 was the Lotus Elise of the car world. Small, fast, reliable (for a sports car), not highly spec’d but it gave lots of bang for your bucks!

Wisely Janam have decided to evolve not revolutionise with the XM66. The new model comes with the following updates:

  • Brand new Freescale i.MX31 ARM11 @533MHz processor making it extremely fast
  • Double the RAM with 128MB DDR SDRAM
  • Double the ROM 128MB NAND
  • Larger standard 2000mAh battery (upgraded from 1880mAh) making giving the Janam even better all day usage
  • WLAN 802.11b/g and a/b/g radio options
  • Bluetooth 2.0 (was 1.2) more secure and reliable PAN
  • USB 2.0 for quicker cradle synchronizing Windows Mobile 6.1 for the latest software

First Impression

The XM66 is in exactly the same form factor than the XM65. In fact it’s identical other than the odd button colour here and there. It still feels small and light, but is large where it counts. The screen, although still QVGA is still crisp and bright and the scan buttons are still perfect for a PDA shaped device. My partner here loves this device simply because her hands can easily reach the scan buttons unlike a lot of Rugged Devices.

Janam XM66 - First impression

Janam XM66 – First impression

It’s also instantly fast. Whether it’s the new freescale processor and DRAM or what, it is absolutely lightning with IE, mobile Excel and even Word loading up almost instantly. Very, very impressive.

The stylus is also worth a mention too. It’d lovely and fat, almost the size of a pen and it’s a pleasure to use. All it’s missing is something to tie it to the device.

In the box you get the device nice solid, heavy cradle, a handstrap and all cables you’ll need to power and sync.

Market Position

So let’s get this out of the way. There is no GSM and there is no GPS! Those are for “field rugged PDA’s” and the XM66 is not primarily aimed at this market. This is for “within 4 walls” and the Cisco strength WiFi re-enforce this. Windows Mobile 6.1 means it will be easy to port software onto it and the little device will continue to impress and perform in this area.

However, I continue to get calls from people who want to use this in the field, in a type of rugged PDA manner so I see the Janam XM66 being used everywhere.

Specification

The specification is high. At first glance the processor and ROM/RAM combination seem weak but I can confirm that it is one powerful little device once in use.

Everything else is good, not fantastic. There’s no VGA screen, no 512MB RAM, no qwerty option for the keyboard but the key is that it’s good enough where it needs to be and you can rely upon the XM66 to do the job at hand.

The battery on the other hand is another story. Again on paper its 2000mAh which is decidedly average, below average compared to some devices. And yet, the Janam has sat here and beat almost every other device in our battery test.

Playing constant video at full screen brightness, the XM66 battery lasted almost a full 6 hours, meaning we’re confident this will deliver all day usage, just like the XM65 did. In fact if you have particularly intensive needs then there’s an extended 3800mAh battery that should be more than enough for most needs.

There is a direct PDA charge socket which we like to see so you can charge the XM66 directly, not needing the cradle.

Design

What can I say, it’s a Rugged PDA! Nothing special here other than the size. It’s nice and slim, very light still keeping the crown of being the lightest device in its class and all buttons (there are 3 scan buttons) are where you need them. The pictures below show the Janam along-side my iPhone which should give most of you a good impression of the small size for a Rugged PDA.

Janam XM66 - Side View

Janam XM66 – Side View

xm66andiPod

Scanning and Data capture

The scanner is very good and you can specify the XM66 with or without a 1D or 2D barcode scanner. Like all Janam’s the scanner uses Honeywell’s “Adaptus” scanning engine and it really delivers. Scanning was fast and accurate, you could scan barcodes at any angle and considering the scanner is 2D ready so a simple firmware update enables 2D barcode scanning and I was very impressed overall. I’m not sure if it has the same scanner as the XG100 but this seemed faster so I’ll be checking that out.

Janam XM66 - Adaptus Scanner

Janam XM66 - Adaptus Scanner

I’ve always liked the Adaptus scan engine and this scanner is no exception. It’s just plain good!

Ruggedness

THe XM66 comes in IP54, drop spec of 1.5M which keeps it where it needs to be and certainly enough for a device like this. You can drop it whilst up a ladder and it’s by and large waterproof. It still has that slightly lightweight feel about the plastics but I personally think that this is down to the physical lightness of the device rather than anything cheap and nasty going on.

Support

Janam’s support is comparable to the best and you can in fact tailor it if you needs something special like on site presence. We hear great things about Janam support and the JanamCare range of service packs offer something for everything at a very affordable price.

In the cradle

The cradle is great. Surprisingly heavy and solid feeling for a device of this level and it’s very sturdy. There’s space for a battery and PDA to charge and it does the job nicely. However there is one gripe I have. Actually cradling the device takes a bit of practise as the Rugged PDA needs to “click” into place and it doesn’t just slide into its position like other cradles.

You do get used to it but I do wonder how many uncharged XM’s workers will see after not realising they weren’t cradled properly.

Price

I was really eager to know what the new price would be, not because it’s the most important aspect of the device, but because it does put it in a bracket where it’s almost unbeatable. The good news is that the price has remained largely the same, so the rationale of the XM66 will be in tact keeping this a very powerful proposition for the right customer.

Drawbacks

So, cradle aside, the XM66 seems to be everything we expected and more but it’s not all good news. Firstly there’s still no vehicle cradle option. Secondly, no qwerty keyboard and Thirdly, no GPS. Hang on I hear you say! The XM66 is not and never was meant to be a field device so why does it need this? The answer…well we do sell these into the field. Not everyone wants to sync over GPS. Also with the MC35 now gone isn’t this the perfect time to fill the space with a device like this? It could be everything the Motorola device wasn’t!

Conclusion

The XM66 has a few gripes but it scores massively where it needs to. In my humble opinion it more than keeps it crown in its sector and I’m pleased to say that Janam have kept everything that was good about the XM65, whilst carefully updating what needed updating. Taking price into consideration makes this an altogether fantastic Rugged PDA and it gets a big thumbs up from us here at Rugged and Mobile.

Final Scores

Design/Usability: 8/10

Scanning: 8/10

Specification: 9/10

Options: 7/10

Ruggedness: 7/10

Support: 9/10

Price: 10/10

Total : 59/70 (84%)

The Rugged and Mobile blog.





Does the Datalogic Skorpio have a sting in its tail?

3 10 2009
DataLogic Skorpio

DataLogic Skorpio

When you first think of a rugged warehouse PDA, Datalogic wouldn’t be the first thing I would have thought of, so when a Datalogic Skorpio landed in the office I was intrigued to find out more. Motorola, Honeywell and Intermec have all placed themselves firmly as the market leaders in the warehouse, so to hear of a device from a smaller manufacturer placing themselves in a niche within the market, I wanted to hear more. The Skorpio is designed to work within a retail or stock room situation, and it is made to be smaller and lighter than its competitors. I wanted to find out if it was good enough to stand up against such strong competition.

Price

The Datalogic Skorpio much cheaper compared to another product such as the Motorola MC9090-G or the Honeywell 9900, but there’s not as much choice in options and configurations available. The Datalogic seems much more reasonably priced compared to its major rivals. Rationale Datalogic have designed the Skorpio to be used on the shop floor. It’s suppose to provide the technology needed within this environment without weighing the user down on a long shift, and it succeeds! It comes in, including battery, at 360g, managing to be almost half the weight of the Motorola MC9090-g and 300g less than the Honeywell 9950.

Specification

Even though there are less than half the options available compared to the Motorola MC9090 and Honeywell 9900, the most basic comes with the specification you need to work on the shop floor. It comes with either Windows CE 5.0 or WM 6.1, WiFi, Bluetooth option, and a laser 1D scan engine, with Datalogic’s built-in green dot to ensure accurate, more efficient scanning. It doesn’t come with the choice of options that are usually available to you when you look at another major manufacturer, however, it does pack a punch, and besides, what more would you want?

<h1>Accessories<h1>

The Datalogic Skorpio range really scores points on the amount of accessories that are available. There is everything you need from cables to vehicle cradles. This is great when you need to use the device in different envoironments and need another bit of kit to help you out, the options are there.

Design

You feel the lightness of the device immediately after picking it up and it’s perfect for all day use, but it still feels rugged and sturdy enough in the event of it being dropped. As Dave previously mentioned in the Janam XG100 review, devices of this sort have the problem of the battery being at the back of the device which causes back tilt weight and this Datalogic Skorpio sadly suffers with this. Ruggedness It is IP64 rated with a drop spec of 1.5m which is almost up there with the best and arguably is all you need for a warehouse device. Devices of this sort have a tendency to be dragged through the mill, and a higher drop spec would have been perfect.

Data Capture

The Datalogic Skorpio has a really good 1D scan engine that comes as standard built-in, and its main selling point is the green spot which appears when you try to aim the scanner at the barcode. It’s a real help and would be ideal when used in stock rooms scanning large amounts of stock in a small amount of time. It handles really well with scanning from an angle, which is ideal in the retail environment

Support

This is where Datalogic lets itself down a little bit. There are no menu “Service Pack” style options immediately available from Datalogic, like most of the other manufacturers, like Janam, Pidion and Honeywell. I think this shows a slight lack of commitment from the manufacturer and they need to do more to ensure that if things go wrong, someone is there to help out and get you back on track.

Drawbacks

This is a great device, but the lack of configuration options available does let it down. With new barcode technology hitting us all the time, I feel that a few better options would have helped, however this is a small gripe for a device that’s meant to be inexpensive and basic. Support is the other major downfall, there needs to be more commitment from the manufacturer in today’s world to ensure the customer receives more piece of mind if things go wrong.

Price: 9/10

Design/Usability: 7/10

Accessories: 9/10

Scanning: 7/10

Ruggedness: 7/10

Support: 5/10

Specification: 7/10

The Rugged and Mobile blog.








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