Datalogic Announces the Elf. its New, Small but Rugged PDA

23 03 2010

Datalogic ELFDatalogic Mobile has to announced the new “Elf” Rugged PDA. We’re excited by this because as the name suggests, the Elf is the smallest rugged PDA yet to be produced by Datalogic, but is still packed with some top-level tech. This new Rugged PDA packs unprecedented features into a compact form factor built for single handed field operation.

The Elf is the first of Datalogics devices coming with Power3, the new concept from that evolves from extensive research into the core needs of all enterprise stakeholders. Three main pillars drive this concept.  C3 real time technologies, F3 ergonomics and rugged construction and D3 easy and intuitive tools.

Under the hood the Elf’s Power3 construction starts with a parallel microprocessor architecture using a PXA310 and ARM-7 processors combined with 256 MB RAM & Flash and Windows Mobile 6.5. This makes it bang up to date and we reckon it will be pretty speedy too.  You can then specify the scanner from either a 1D laser scanner, a 2D imager (both with Datalogic’s patented Green Spot good read feedback) or an optional HF RFID reader which only comes along with the 2D scanner option as far as we can tell from the literature we have seen so far.  The Elf doesn’t cut back on any other features with an autofocus 3MPixel camera with flash and a complete set of radios that will keep users connected throughout the day.  HSDPA UMTS (3.5G) for voice and data, along with Summit’s latest embedded WiFi chip brings 802.11a/b/g wireless radio with Cisco CCX v4 certification, whilst Bluetooth is present to connect you to wireless headsets, printers and other BT devices. There’s a GPS receiver for tracking, navigation and proof of delivery and a standard Micro USB port facilitates charging with any USB power supply.  Lastly with 3000 or 5000 mAh battery options, this will be one long lasting little Rugged PDA!

Datalogic’s software tools and strategic software alliances fit Elf to the business practice. Datalogic Desktop and Configuration utilities offer full control over the on-device experience. Wavelink Avalanche enables rapid deployment and central management of Elf installations (Avalanche is pre-loaded and pre-licensed on every Elf). Finally, Datalogic’s Ease of Care comprehensive service programs protect the Elf investment for the long-term.  These come in 1, 2 or 3 guides and are comparable to most manufacturers support offerings.

Features

• Windows Mobile 6.5 for application portability
• UMTS HSDPA (3.5G) cellular radio for voice and fast data
• 802.11 a/b/g radio with CCX V4 certification
• Bluetooth® wireless Communications 2.0 EDR
• GPS for real-time location-based applications
• USB On-the-Go for maximum communications flexibility
• 1D Laser or 2D Imager both with Green Spot good read
• Integrated HF RFID reader
• 3 Megapixel autofocus Camera with Flash
• 256MB RAM and 256MB Flash Standard
• Single piece battery, both standard and high capacity
• User-accessible micro SD memory slot (SDHC) for additional storage
• QWERTY or Numeric keyboard
• Brilliant VGA/QVGA TFT display with touch screen.
• Accelerometer to automatically rotate display
• Micro USB on device to easily charge with standard power supplies (no dock required)
• Wavelink Avalanche® device management pre-licensed

You can learn more here and download documentation and images

Datalogic Elf

Availability

You can place orders now, with 4 options available.  As far as we’ve been told the first shipments will take place in May 2010.

Opinion

Our opinion here is that this device could just be the device that everyone is looking for.  Its inexpensive, small but rugged and it comes with a support level that should give it a real TCO for end users.  We’ll try to get this tested soon, in the meantime watch this space or check our main website for more details.

The Rugged and Mobile blog.





Windows Phone 7.0 slowly reveals itself but is it enough?

22 03 2010

It’s a little later than most but after being able to reflect on the current main announcements that Microsoft has finally made on the little OS I thought I’d make some thoughtful comments that no-one else is making!

Firstly there’s no point repeating what others have already blogged about.  The main announcement on WM7 is here courtesy of our friends at engadget and there’s a nice article here about the XNA SDK for games producing.

Now on the plus side it looks like Microsoft are doing a heck of a lot to get their new OS up to sctratch but correct me if I’m wrong isn’t WM7 still earmarked for a Q4 release and isn’t Apple and Android at least going to go through 1 more iteration of OS version by then and isn’t WM7 kind of the same as the iPhone with a couple of things added and a few things missing?  What I’m trying to say is that I’m not sure whether this will be enough.

What’s also missing is a load of stuff that interests us business/rugged users.  I mean how will the capacitive, multi touch screen work with POS signature capture?  OK, so there may be stylus’ that cope with this now but how much are they and what happens when they get lost?  There are a load of things I feel that they are not attending to in this area and the most worrying to me is the current understanding that we won’t be able to P/Invoke outside of the managed software area.  OK in a consumer world I can understand this but in the business and rugged world where kisoked applications are running in a very bespoke manner we rely on the ability to P/Invoke to make the solution work as it needs to.  This could be a very interesting time for us!!

To me then WM7 at this point represents an OS that is still trying to take on the consumer market without a clear USP in my view.  What I am most interested in though is how it will pan out for us rugged/business users and how it will allow us to stave off the Android and iPhone attack in this area.  Could the rug get pulled from under Microsoft’s feet here?

Dave

The Rugged and Mobile blog.





Motorola MC55 or MC75 – The difference

10 03 2010

Funnily enough I have been asked this about 10 times in the past 2 weeks so as usual I thought I’d put the answer up in a blog article.

The MC55 is a great device, it’s small, rugged, widely adopted and just doesn’t do anything badly.  When we had the MC70 and MC50 the differences were clear as the MC50 wasn’t really all that rugged with some serious functionality floors, however these days the MC55 overlaps it’s bigger brother, the MC75 quite heavily.

So, whats the same?

They share the same size screen, the standard batteries are the same size and they share the same barcode scanner engines, cameras and GPS units.  Both units use WM6.1 and they both have 128MB RAM.  What is most surprising is they also share identical ruggedness on paper with IP54 rating and drop specs of 1.5m.

What does the MC55 have extra?

Well it does have slightly larger ROM with 512MB if that’s any use to you and it does come with a an extra PDA style keyboard which does suit a certain set of users.  The accessories, whilst almost identical, are cheaper than the MC75 versions.

So what has the MC75 got extra?

The main difference is that the MC75 is an HSDPA data device so it has a far quicker 3.5G data transmission rate to the MC55 which uses 2.5G edge technology which is still good enough for most users in the rugged PDA market.  The MC75 uses the slightly faster 624MhZ variant of the Xscale processor but you probably won’t notice that and its LCD, whilst being the same size (3.5″), is VGA not QVGA.

The MC75 also has some better accessories with a 4800mAh extended battery and an RS232 communication cable and it can still be specified with Windows Mobile 5.0.

Lastly there are Hazloc versions of this device (intrinsically safe to you and me!) so you can find electrostatic safe and radio free versions as well as configuring out some of the other radios.

The price difference

Well if we take the most popular MC55 configuration, the MC5574-PYCDURRA9WR.  To you thats with a 1D barcode scanner, camera and numeric keypad then this comes in at £1289 RRP.  The comparable MC7094-PUCDCRRA9WR then this comes in at £1506 RRP which is hard to swallow, especially when it has less ROM.

So why buy the MC75?

I’ve even heard Motorola people struggle to answer this but the answer is largely down to what your solution demands.  In my opinion the MC55 is stealing a lot of business from the MC75, especially in these harder, more budget lead times and for most field solutions it will do you proud, and I include parcel delivery in that too where we have seen the MC55 do very well in a market previously the domain of the MC75.

However the MC75 still has its uses!  If you need faster data transfer over 3G then you need the MC75.  Thinking of sending inspection photos over the air or simply using data intensive solutions then the MC55 might struggle.

Secondly the form factor and extra size of the MC75 still makes it inherently tougher than the MC55.  If you are in a more rugged environment with more rugged users then the MC55 is more of a risk in terms of ruggedness.

The MC75 also has better options where full shift battery life is needed.  If you have a vehicle and can charge during the shift then your fine with the 3600mah battery of the MC55 but the extended battery that the MC75 offers is the onoy one that will trully get you through the whole day uncharged.

So if you need a slightly tougher chunkier device with full shift capability then go for the MC75, otherwise try the MC55 as you might be surprised.

Dave

The Rugged and Mobile blog.





Android makes its 2nd appearance on a Rugged PDA

5 03 2010

I spoke about the Trimble Nomad being spotted using the Google operating system some time ago and now it seems another manufacturer has followed suit and you can read about it here.

http://www.sdgsystems.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=section&layout=blog&id=1&Itemid=50

The article is US-based again but to me it does mean that Google’s Android OS is being taken seriously by some Rugged PDA Manufacturers and with Motorola already producing consumer Android handsets it could be the tipping if we see an MC55 follow suit!

What does this mean to end users.  Well on one hand, largely not all that much.  Many devices are “Kiosked” so they only perform the tasks that the custom-built software allows them to do, like deliver parcels, or get jobs whilst mobile.  However the other school of thought is that Android is vastly better than the currently available Windows Mobile 6.1 or 6.5 and it is gaining critical mass in the consumer developer world.  With more and more software houses choosing to develop applications for the android, it will only take a few rugged PDA’s to adopt it and we could see the first big split between OS’s for the first time since Palm OS days in the Rugged market place.

Add to this the Apple iPad is looking like the perfect hospitality and EPOS base and we could see the same bloody war in the RUgged market as we’ve seen n the consumer side of mobile phones and pda’s.

I’d watch this space as it all pans out!

Dave

The Rugged and Mobile blog.








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