Throw away your notebook, iPAD is here!!

24 06 2010

So this week I have got to the point in my love affair with my iPad where I need to take it to the next level in the relationship! Great as it has been so far I want to see if it can truly take the place of a real business tool…….the notepad!

Let me tell you this, getting me to part company with my blue lab book style notepad and trusty bic biro is a lot harder than it sounds, but looking at some of the apps now on the app store I think it could be finally feasible. A paper notebook is great but it also lacks a lot of things that I would love. Cut, paste, the ability to use more colour, undo/redo and the ability to add images and edit the pages as I go along, not to mention indexing and searching. There’s a lot technology could add but it has to do one thing which is to do the basics and well and paper and pen is a very very hard act to follow!

So next weeks great experiment at Rugged and Mobile will therefore be to asses if the iPad can indeed replace my notepad.

How am I going to do this?

Well firstly you need a pen and I’ve already got 2 capacitive pens that will work with the iPad in the post. Secondly you need a good app and I’ll be looking at a few that I think could just fit the bill ranging from basic to quite complex products.

I’ll let you how things go next week!

UPDATE:

We’re putting this little research project on hold for the time being.  Success with the capacitive pen has not been great to date and we’re waiting for our own home made C-Pen to be right before we carry on with this.  Still loving the iPad though!!

Dave

The Rugged and Mobile blog.





Motorola ES400 Revealed

21 06 2010

At last the Motorola es400 has been revealed and I’m hoping that I’m OK sharing a few key points and pics with you on the small rugged PDA from the pre-launch update I attended. In true rugged and mobile style I’m hoping to pick up on a few points that others will miss on the rugged PDA that is the successor of the recently discontinued MC35.

Some key points of the launch call are listed below. It was described as iPhone sized but a bit slimmer and a bit thicker! I would say that it is probably very close to MC35 size but larger. There will only be 1 configuration but with 3 different keyboard options. I’m assuming that these will be Qwerty, Azerty and something else because a numeric option is not available. There will be an extended battery option that will not be flush and require its own battery cover. There was mention that the stylus needs to be different depending on the battery being used. Not sure if I heard that right though. The device is dual UDMA/HSDPA and the product is going to be an international one with all power adaptors and USB included in the box. LCd is 3.0″, an odd size for a PDA . It’s 750 nits display, which is bright. A blackberry is about 550 nits, however power consumption remains the same through the use of its auto power mode. Its got a resistive screen which is far better suited for more rugged/enterprise applications (EG using stylus’ for POD and using in gloves). There’s a customisable user interface which you can see in the images above. It’s like a cross between an iPhone and HTC home screen and it looked pretty usable. There are also a lot of re-written areas of the UI like an enhanced phone dialer, camera software as well as lots more. THe UI looked pretty nice. The camera is a 3.2MP AF with flash and whilst it was sold as a non-aggressive scanner, it will read all 1D and 2D barcodes and has illumination and a red-line to simulate 1D barcode scanning. The scan engine has been vastly improved from the MC35 and my feeling is that Motorola did not want to over boast at how good it might be. A vehicle charging solution and desk charger solution were very briefly mentioned. It has a stylus! The device has a true 3 year life/roadmap. Service from the start is available with comprehensive cover (not intentional damage). IP42, take that as you want to. I think this is OK, it would have been nice to have seen maybe IPX4 but this is better than the MC35. Drop spec is 1.2M to vinyl on concrete, which is about the same as the MC35 and everything else in this class. The list price mentioned was $750, I would say that this will translate to a similar RRP as the fully blown MC35. We’ll have to see but this looks like very good news on the price front.

Launch Dates

Mid June for a global launch, which has happened!! However the actual availability date will be September. I think we’ll be able to take orders about August onwards. We’ll keep you posted as we know more and will do a more formal first look soon.

The Rugged and Mobile blog.





Free Online Barcode Generator

18 06 2010
Online Barcode Generator

Online Barcode Generator

Hi Everyone

Our free barcode generator is now live and can be found here: Barcode Generator

Its basic but it works and we’ll tweak it on request or when we get some more spare time.

The purpose of this is to give our customers something to test their barcode data on.  It shows you early on if a barcode symbology will be feasible to use for your project and it can also be used to test viability of Rugged PDA scanners you are evaluating.  It’s designed to let you print off the barcodes you make or save them to a png.  You can also scan barcodes straight from the screen, depending on the type and data used and of course what Barcode scanner or Rugged PDA you are using to test..

You can display some of the most common barcodes in different sizes, it’s all in 300dpi so should be good enough to create some nice test barcodes for your office printers.

Let us have some feedback, otherwise happy barcoding!!

Dave

The Rugged and Mobile blog.





Top 10 tips – Getting the right Rugged PDA Expert Advice

14 06 2010

The trouble with the rugged PDA market at the moment, in my humble view, is too many people are getting the wrong Rugged PDA advice from resellers not committing to the hardware they sell.  You’re making a long-term investment in your Rugged PDA solution, spending £1000’s and you deserve to know what kind of experts or not you’re dealing with.

Now I’m not saying that we should all only sell one or two manufacturers but I am saying that there should be some basic knowledge that your reseller should be able to answer you with that shows they work hard with the devices they sell.  Each and every device we sell, we get involved with and we’re constantly unearthing small issues that need correcting, often by ourselves.  Here I discuss a top 10 list of questions to ask your reseller to ensure you’re talking to the right people.

Device knowledge

Ask about the nuisances of the device you’re looking at.  No 2 rugged PDA’s are the same and its often the small details you miss that will cost you dearly down the line.  For instance, we have devices which will not fit into cradles with extended batteries.  Ones with missing GPS chips, ones with misleading GPRS/3G/HSDPA specs to name but a few.  Ask the reseller about these details and comb through the specs with them as its very important.

Blogs and social activity

The true test of expertise.  Does the reseller have a blog, are they actively involved in forums and do they tweet or Facebook!?  Check them out and see what they’re really doing.  1 blog entry per month = no committment = no expertise.  Look for the depth and honesty of their tweeting, are you seeing the company for real here and are they putting their expertise and opinions at the true mercy of the social world?  When was the last time they contributed anything to a tech forum, whether it be Microsoft, PIsion’s teklogix developer forum or their own?  It’s these guys who are the ones to talk to.  Social media is here to stay and the resellers who are putting themselves out there are the ones who are daring to be right.

Consultancy approach

Only the best resellers will take a consultancy approach from the word go and I’m not meaning for 100+ device projects.  If the reseller is at least willing to try to run a project for you on say 10-20 devices or even less than they probably know their stuff, have good contact with the manufacturers and are willing to work hard for you.  Will they come and visit you?  How much do they want to learn about what you’re doing and how serious do they seem about your business.  Talking to some bod telephone sales person chained to a desk all day will not make sure you’re getting the right device.

Knowledge of the supply chain

Ask about lead times, where the devices sources from, stock levels and anything you can about the supply chain.  Now a reseller isn’t going to share everything here but the good ones will be able to quickly come back to you with answers to any supply chain questions.  It shows they’re in good contact with the supply chain and are taken seriously by it.

Passion

We’re not sales people here, we’re techies who rely on passion to sell.  We hope that our passion, committment and hard work pays off and the type of customers we get prove this model.  If you’re talking price and cost up front and nailing a reseller down, the chances are the good ones will walk away from you!

Support and Beware the repair centre

Ask questions about the support and service on the devices you’re enquiring and test the reseller’s depth.  Where is it based, is it manufacturer direct and what are the rough costs.  Any reseller who is committing to the device in question should know this right away.  The trend for device support is to move away from the “certified” repair centres and to deal direct with the manufacturer.  Most if not all manufacturers work like this now or not at all.  Anyone can get certified to repair devices but the service element of a repair centre is rarely governed and repair centres have had their day.  Make sure your support product is return to manufacturer or ask for a damn good reason why it’s not.

Rebranded devices

This just spells trouble for everyone from the start.  Why would you want to rebrand a device, when others are selling it openly from the correct source brand…well i’ll tell you…to keep the prices high as the perceived competition is low on the device!!  We see all sorts of manufacturers devices re-branded like this and all it does is confuse customers, upset distributors and dupe the honest resellers, whislt the dishonest ones are getting away with murder!  Even Motorola gear is rebranded in this way.

Beware the non-agnostic resellers

Some resellers are also trying to get in on the distribution act which is not only illegal but it also means certain devices are being peddled by resellers who have an interest in doing so at a price that no-one else can match.  Always ask if a reseller has a distribution set-up with any manufacturers and always ask if they are totally manufacturer agnostic because a lot aren’t.  There are a lot of devices on the market that are simply not cutting it but sell due to not exposing their real issues.  We also see devices from Asia or the USA being sold here and its all fine and dandy until you need to send it back under warranty….you have been warned!

Value

Ask the resellers what they do with the manufacturers and how involved they are with them.  We for instance help build CAB’s and even Windows Mobile Builds for certain devices and have been heavily involved with issues that have required a full effort by the manufacturers and us to overcome.  Why, because we’re passionate about selling the best solutions we can.  There are a lot of resellers who don’t add any value other than price and you’ll just end up in a world of pain later on if you go with the “box shifters”.  The resellers who aren’t the cheapest are often the best and will save you £££’s in the medium to long-term.  Give us a chance!!

Price

The pricing in the rugged market can be extremely varied and you need to look for the mid-low priced resellers.  As discussed above don’t go for the cheapest web based shop/business #who leads with price and always beware the ones who drop their pricing as soon as you mention competition, they’ll often be the very resellers who know nothing about the devices they’re selling and looking to nick a deal with no committment to you after the sale.

There we go, I could have kept writing for hours I think but that should give any prospective Rugged PDA buyer something to work on.  One last comment though, try to work collaboratively with your reseller because becoming a team and working through a project with them and perhaps paying a little more for the privilege will reap huge benefits after your solution is rolled out.  Too many customers are leading with price and we’re increasingly telling these type of customers to go and look elsewhere for their purchases.

Yes we can choose you too!!

As usual if you want to discuss any aspects of Rugged PDA’s, data capture or Mobile software development then feel free to email us.

The Rugged and Mobile blog.





Is the iPhone 4.0 rugged!?

12 06 2010

Sat in bed just watching some of the presentations from WWDC 10 and you would forgive people for thinking that the iPhone 4.0 is rugged!!

Heres why:

  • Glass back and front, specially developed by Apple to be 30 times tougher than plastic.
  • Stainless steel frame and sides.
  • Integrated radio antenna.
  • Decent all day battery.
  • Ready made barcode scanning apps.
  • Support packs available.
  • Unbelievable array of accessories for any situation.
  • Decent OS and developer platform that’s not susceptible to virus attacks.
  • Decent roadmaps, if a little short but with great advice and effort to backward support older models.
  • All from £300?

Now forgive me if I’m wrong, but get yourself a rugged partner who understands rugged requirements but can also create software for the iPhone (errr that’s us isn’t it) and we’re beginning to wonder if this could just be the answer for some situations.

What I do know is that there would be far less user resistance if you started giving out iPhones instead of chunky semi rugged devices.

Just a thought…..

Dave

The Rugged and Mobile blog.








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