Is Google as Rugged as Microsoft…Fight!!!

21 12 2009


Google seems to have Microsoft firmly in its sights on many fronts these days but we never thought the Rugged PDA scene would be attacked so early on.

Rugged PDA’s have been 95% Windows Mobile or C.E. for years. Sure there’s the odd Palm powered one still about and the Janam XP20 or XP30 Series have 2 different versions of the neat little Palm OS but largely it’s been all Microsoft in the industry for years.

Now I’m not actually complaining about this. In a Rugged environment Windows Mobile or CE does the job well. You can build nice usable applications for users that work on tried and tested technology with a pretty big base of help available to you. We’re not all that interested in how the OS works, looks and is designed or how the phone app works here because on a Motorola MC9090, it’s just not important! However With Windows Mobile 7.0 seemingly delayed yet again, we’ve all seen Windows Mobile take a big beating in the consumer world the past 2 years and, certainly in the consumer market, it has seen rapid decline. Part of this decline has been further fuelled by the uptake of the Google Android OS from key Microsoft partners with Motorola and HTC leading the way and certainly with Motorola, we have a key player in the Rugged PDA Market.

I asked one of our Motorola account managers recently if there was an Android strategy for their Rugged division and he said no but I’m not so sure. You see Windows Mobile is now becoming an issue for some users. No-one wants WM5.0 or even 6.1 because it’s old and they all know the story from the news they hear in the consumer market-place. Businesses are now starting to adopt Android phones as they’re cheaper, offer better more “iPhone-like” experience for the user and there’s a demand and incentive to use anything shining star Google comes up with at the moment.

As developers get to grips with this OS, businesses will want to see working throughout their business and as such the demand for the Android Rugged PDA will surely become stronger.

Any truth in this?  Bothered at all by it! or plain don’t believe me?  Then I leave you with this…We’ve already seen the first Rugged device sporting the “Cupcake” OS in the shape of the Trimble Nomad. This device is a little unusual in that it’s aimed at users who need a device to map with but it’s typically used as a real work house PDA/Phone as well, so the user needs a good experience of the OS.

Big question is, is this a One-Off in the rugged PDA market or are we going to start seeing the Android platform more frequently here at Rugged and Mobile!!

The Rugged and Mobile blog.

Choosing a Rugged PDA – Dispelling the Myths!

15 12 2009

Choosing a Rugged PDA – Why Bother?

Choosing a Rugged PDA over a standard PDA is something we talk about here on a daily basis and we see all sorts of people who have or will be buying a Non-Rugged PDA where they really do need a rugged one. We often think of Rugged PDA’s as being the Servers of the computer market and there’s a good reason you need to consider them. I wanted to dispell a few myths about doing this right here:

1. The PDA is cheaper!
Not necessarily, you can get proper supportable, quality Rugged PDA’s for £500 these days. Have you seen the GaneData gStar recently? Last I looked the HTC HD2 was a lot more than this.

2. I don’t need support i’ll claim on insurance
Oh, dear!, where do we start on this one. So many customers have come back to us when they realise either their provider stops providing after the first 10 or so replacements (read the small print) or their insurance ramps up in year 2 due to the number of claims. If you use a non-rugged PDA in a Rugged environment, sooner or later you’ll end up paying this way and usually in a big way.

3. Yeah, OK, but Insurance is much cheaper than support
Average HTC or iPhone insurance is between £12-15 per month now and that’s based upon a 24 month contract too. The price for a 3 year comprehensive cover on a £1000 Rugged PDA is approximately £180. You do the maths… £180 / 36 = £5 per month. Another formula to think about is – Its cheaper because you’re not using it as much = Your business is live and running!

4. Insurance is a better product.
I don’t think so! Insurance replaces you with a reconditioned unit, accidental damage is very debatable and when you get the replacement it comes in a bag as is. With support you get proper accidental damage cover, it’s all courier based with guaranteed turn-around if you want it. You can have your solution pre-installed on the replacement so that it comes to you ready to go, oh and it’ll be a brand new unit or your own repaired one.

5. The non-rugged PDA solution will cost less
Over time the Rugged PDA solution will show its strength and you will slowly but surely see your costs not only come down but you will have a very controlled 3-5 year solution that will offer stability, a total cost of ownership with reduced costs such as training, support, software and admin over the whole project lifetime.

6. Product Road Maps don’t matter, All PDA’s are the same as long as they have Windows Mobile on them?
This is very dangerous to assume. There are enough differences in Windows Mobile  5.0 to Windows Mobile 6.1 to cause a lot of headaches and software re-writes and I haven’t even started on hardware elements and SDK’s yet. The fact is a Rugged device will give you a solid stable platform that you can base your solution on for years. You may not quite have the best 5MP cameras, the best RAM and the best Processor but you will have a stable much more trouble-free life.

7. And lastly – Warranty is as good as support, if the device is broken i’ll claim on my warranty, you’ll see!
My personal favourite!  Warranty only protects you from defects usually within a 12 month period only and even then you have no guaranteed turn-around time, your repairs are usually billed in some way and your device may not be deemed fixable at all. Remember warranty is about your device being as described, support is to keep your business running.

If you need to learn more about Rugged PDA support or Barcode Scanner support then come visit our website and give us a call.  I’d be only to happy to talk you through the best options for your business.

The Rugged and Mobile blog.

HTC P6500 – Discontinued

15 12 2009
HTC P6500 - Discontinued

HTC P6500 – Discontinued

Hi Everyone

 The HTC P6500 has now been confirmed as end-of-life and will soon no longer be available from our website.

We have mixed feelings for the HTC P6500, whilst it provided a great platform for a lot of early Windows Mobile Applications and was by all accounts a decent PDA, we just saw too many issues with it in terms of its positioning, especially ruggedness.

The fact is that the HTC P6500 was never a rugged PDA and it confused the market and customers alike. We see customer after customer who chose the P6500 but then found after losing so many that there was no support, very little manufacturer help or advice and no roadmap either. We have a name for PDA’s like this…..”Mobile Phones!”, complete with 3% margins! and that’s what the P6500 was. The fact is that it created more problems than it solved and even as it is abruptly discontinued we have customers left wondering how much their now multiPDA estate will cost them to support and administer.

We had 2 HTC P6500′s here and both of them broke! One during a field trial where a rainy day left it sodden through and the other whilst falling out of a pocket in a car. 2 foot drop at most!

Whilst we did love the device for programming on, we won’t really be upset for too long. With phones like the GaneData gStar on the market you can get a properly Rugged PDA with the right support for the same price or go for the semi-rugged Pidion BM150R which is not IP rated but it does have a drop spec and is fully supported/roadmapped.

In my next post  I’m going to dispell some myths about Rugged PDA’s, watch this space!.

The Rugged and Mobile blog.


Opticon OPR-3301 Bluetooth Laser Scanner – Announced

10 12 2009

Opticon OPR-3301

The Opticon-3301 wireless Bluetooth laser scanner, is going to be one of the smallest and lightest cordless laser scanners on the market. Weighing only 110g (including the battery folks!),  means the OPR-3301 will be an extremely comfortable  wireless barcode scanner, especially for prolonged scanning.

We saw this barcode scanner at the latest EPOS show put on in Manchester last month and I have to say we were fairly impressed from a technical viewpoint.  It’s exceptionally light and it has a nice overall feel to it and it clips solidly into its cradle so you know you can fix the cradle vertically and the scanner will be secure.  The battery size is a decent 1100mAH battery and should provide around 25 hours of use when scanning every 5 seconds.

Refreshingly everything comes in the box with the OPR-3301 including scanner, PSU, and USB/RS232 cables and the 3301 can use the same stand as the 3201 series.

We played with the 1D version, i’m not sure if there will be a 2D one as yet and it had the same excellent scanning engine that all Opticon’s tend to have.

The winner for me is that this scanner not only connects to its base station but it can also connect directly to any Bluetooth device including Rugged PDA’s, PDAs and laptops which will make it extremely versatile.  We’re a little disappointed not to see class 1 bluetooth (100m range) though and this comes with the standard 10M range.  We feel that this will be a direct competitor for the Zebex Z-3051BT which has 100m range and a sub £200 price tag.

Another nice feature is the “Call” button so if you lose the scanner you can locate it easily just like with your wireless home phone!  Might sound ridiculous but in the real world this could prove quite useful.  I can see shop keepers all over the land calling for their scanners this way when lost under a stack of newspapers!

A Varlink representative can be quoted as saying “…providing the perfect low-cost solution for cordless barcode scanning and barcode data collection in retail, back office, healthcare and light industrial environments…” so lets hope the price lives up to the expectation.

We’ll be stocking the OPR-3301 very soon, with mid December availability.

Meanwhile check Opticons pages for more.

The Rugged and Mobile blog.

Barcode Scanner Poll of the week!

9 12 2009

Welcome to the Rugged and Mobile Poll of the week.

This is where we ask you to provide a little bit of feedback to us and in return 1 lucky person will win a prize!

This week: What’s most important to you when buying a Barcode Scanner?

Many thanks for participating

The Rugged and Mobile blog.

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