Motorola ES400 Alternatives

30 11 2010
Motorola ES400 Alternatives

Motorola ES400 Alternatives

So, are there any Motorola ES400 alternatives out there, well in fact there are a fair few.  The semi rugged PDA market unquestionably growing, it’s a little bit confusing and there are a few devices of note out there that you should definitely consider when buying a semi rugged PDA.

We’ll go through the most popular devices we sell here, a few new ones and dip into the fully rugged PDA area a little bit too because some of you customers should really be considering these, especially at the pricing we can now attain here!

So why consider an alternative to the ES400?

The Motorola ES400 is a semi rugged mobile phone.  Its Achilles heels are the small LCD screen, the qwerty keyboard which is too small and too fiddly, the micro USB cable is on the side, not rugged but still means you can’t use any of your existing mini USB components and we also think it has too many gimmicks in it like the Red line scanner and a finger print reader that seems to cause us more problems than it solves.

If you want comparable but better

For roughly the same money the new Pidion BM170 solves many of the above issues for you.  It’s a PDA format semi rugged PDA, with a 3.5″ LCD screen, better CPU, 3 choices of Operating System (WM6.5.1, 6.5.3 and Android) and it has a 20% bigger battery.  This is the semi rugged PDA of choice at the moment for us.  It’s also properly semi rugged with a 1.5M drop spec (not 1.2) and is positioned as a semi rugged PDA, not a semi rugged phone.  It also comes in a non GSM/GPRS version.

If you want something cheaper

Well the best selling semi rugged PDA we sell is the Pidion BM150R, which is exactly the same style as the BM170 but it has a reduced spec (520MHz CPU, 128MB RAM, QVGA LCD, 2400mAh battery, WM6.1) but all the important components are present like 3.5″ LCD, camera, WiFi, BT, GPS, big battery, plethora of accessories.  This small rugged PDA is the most like for like replacement to the old HTC P6500 or O2 Mantle and it has sold fantastically the past year.  Again its fully semi rugged with a 1.5m drop spec and it also comes in GSM or non GSM versions meaning the range costs from £300 up to £400.  It’s a real bargain.

If you want something waterproof

This is technically rugged now but there are still 2 phones that are worth a mention.  Firstly Motorola’s DEFY (£300) is an IP67 android smartphone.  It offers something different and again as long as you need a mobile phone its something you should consider. Airo’s A25 is also something that people consider as it is decently specced, has an Intrinsically safe model, has a great GPS chip and is one tough little rugged PDA for £500.  Only service, support and generally low sales let this device down.

OK, so is there anything fully rugged for this kind of price?

Yes there is and if you are willing to compromise on RAM, CPU and screen size then the GaneData GX8010 (HH8010 in rebranded form) is the answer.  It’s the smallest fully rugged PDA on the market, has a built in 2D barcode scanner and we ‘re still talking around the £500 mark and its due a RAM/CPU upgrade next year.

I also think the new Intermec CS40 is worth a mention as, whilst it’s nearer the £700 mark it has a superb, brand new spec, is from a fantastic rugged PDA manufacturer and if size matters then this will be a very dependable device.

The best all round Rugged PDA at the moment has to be the Pidion BIP-5000.  This rugged PDA puts a slim, lightweight but fully rugged PDA in your hands for less than £600 with a currently unrivalled spec.  This is fast starting to outsell anything in the Rugged PDA space.

There we go, lots of choice and as usual come talk to me if you need any more advice at all.


The Rugged and Mobile blog.

Motorola ES400 Review and Customer Questions

29 11 2010

So with the Motorola ES400 reviewed and now out, I thought it would be nice to spend this week looking closer at the ES400.  Here we start with a Q & A clear up a lot of questions we are getting about this semi rugged PDA and how it is being positioned by Motorola now that the dust has settled.  I’ve answered some of the key questions here as honestly as I can and because I am asked almost on a daily basis now.

Is the Motorola ES400 Rugged?

If I got a pound every time this was asked…  This is a symptom of how this device is being marketed and who is trying to sell it.  Firstly the ES400 IS NOT rugged, it is semi rugged.  Anyone telling you its rugged doesn’t know what they’re on about and this is a symptom of the channel Motorola have used to “Pump” this device out through.  It should not be used in environments where you need a rugged PDA as it will last 5 minutes.

Is the LCD screen really small

Yes, it is and the qwerty keypad is very tight and certainly not capable of being used with gloves on.  There are far better devices that have 3.5″ screens and I am getting so fed up with seeing people’s faces drop when they see the LCD on this device!!  See alternatives below.

Does it have a barcode scanner?

The barcode scanner uses the camera, just like the MC35 did.  Like all Camera based barcode scanners, it is not great, not great at all and with some expertise and configuration that we can do here it is at best useful for adhoc scanning solutions.  It is especially difficult in changing or low light conditions and 1D barcodes are very susceptible to misreads which can your whole mobile solution at risk.

Yes it does have a fancy red line that is projected from a light beneath the camera, it’s there to help aim only, it’s very faint and to me, it just clarifies who this device is being aimed at.

What about the Finger Print reader?

Works exactly as the old iPAQ one, in fact looking at the assembly it looks like the same part to me.  If you leave the device in the sun or anywhere remotely warm, like in front of heater grills in a vehicle then it bleeps incessantly at you until you switch it off.  I just forced myself to use it for a week as part of a blog series coming soon and I couldn’t wait to get rid of it!!

If you put your workers in the field relying on this then it places your security at greater risk not reduced risk.

Can you buy the device on contract with O2?

Of course I hate admitting this because they can offer the ES400 at a price no reseller can, at least up front.  See the next blog in the series about this.

Can you get the ES400 with WM6.5.1?

No you can’t.  For those of you who don’t know, WM6.5.1 is the stylus friendly version of WM6.5.  WM6.5.3 is the finger friendly version.  A lot of applications including some market leading field mobility apps will not run on WM6.5.3.  Check before you buy with your reseller, if this is O2 then good luck with that!!

Can you get the ES400 with Android

No you can’t!  Try a Pidion BM170 instead which can come with certified Android 2.1, WM6.5.1 or WM6.5.3 on it.

Are there any Alternative devices with advice on them?

Absolutely.  The best semi rugged PDA we sell full stop is the Pidion BM170.  It goes toe to toe with anything and is a superb device.  Want something cheaper than the little Pidion BM150R is a lower specced version of the BM170 but still a very capable device for way less money.  More rugged?  The smallest fully rugged PDA at the same price is Ganedata’s GX8010.  It’s a great little Rugged PDA with a few Achilles heels that are being ironed out soon.  If you want something with a numeric keypad then Airo’s A25 works well too if a little bit large for some.

Read more later in the week.

Why does my reseller sell the Motorola ES400 in a different manner to other Rugged PDA’s?

I’ve done another blog on this too and its here: The trouble with the Motorola ES400.  Basically it’s not a Rugged PDA, it’s a mobile phone and a s such it is a very different product with very different positioning.  Beware is all I can say at this point!!

I’ll be adding more questions soon.

The Rugged and Mobile blog.

Windows Mobile 6.5.1 Vs 6.5.3 – Stylus Vs Finger!

19 11 2010

This weeks big Rugged PDA issue for us here has been about Windows Mobile 6.5.3 and why WM6.1 applications do not necessarily port to 6.5.3 in the way they should.

The issue is best demonstrated by this short video:

We’re not getting much in the way of help from large software companies who have failed to see or test this issue on their applications.  They seem either too embarrassed to admit the issue exists, focussing on WP7 now or just not bothered!!  So we went about trying to resolve the issue in a way we can for our customers.

Our solution is to offer both WM6.5.1 and WM6.5.3 on devices that are built with WM6.5 and so far Pidion have been great at coming forward with a build for us that gives us and our users the choice of not only using apps with the issue shown above, but allowing their users to stick with the more Stylus oriented OS rather than the Finger oriented one.  We’re already testing this new OS on the Pidion BM170 now.

I think this demonstrates just how different the rugged PDA market is to the “shiny” smartphone one.  We regard PDA’s as business tools critical to run a process, not as shiny cool new toys that users will love.

There are not only a heck of a lot of applications that are finger unfriendly in this market but people wearing gloves and needing to take signatures who are complaining, quite rightfully in my view, like mad too!!

Come talk to us here if you want to know more.

The Rugged and Mobile blog.

What does IP42 really mean? – Ruggedness Week Part 6/6

16 11 2010

IP42 rugged PDA’s.  The confusion!….The frustration!  I turn to Rugged PDA TV for help! That concludes my series on “Ruggedness” and all the parts are listed here for reference.  If you want any help at all then just come and ask me here.


The Rugged and Mobile blog.

Rugged PDA Support – Ruggedness Week Part 5/6

15 11 2010
Rugged PDA Support Services

Rugged PDA Support Services

Rugged PDA Support is a key element to what I feel creates a “Rugged” solution and its often the least understood area that less knowledgable resellers know about.

We’re told by most manufacturers that between 70-90% of sales are now sold with their support product and, whilst it depends on the type of solution and customer, I would definitely agree that support is a growing element of any solution we put together and we now see about 60-70% of solutions typically over 20 devices now going for support options.  So lets cover off a few questions here that we commonly hear about Rugged PDA support.

I have 12 months warranty, why would I need support

The most common question we get asked about support and I need to define warranty before we go on.  Warranty is about making sure the device is received and works in the manner it was supposed to.  So if a rugged PDA stops working and it is clearly due to a manufacturer fault then it will be dealt with for you.  Classic examples of this are when the Rugged Handheld arrives dead (it does happen or say when the scanner breaks.  If the device has been used and abused then the manufacturer is likely to ask you to pay for the repair as warranty does not cover wear and tear in any way.

So what do you get extra with support

As a general guide for about £5 per device per month over 2, 3 or 5 years you’ll get what we call a “comprehensive support package” tied to the serial number of your Rugged PDA.  This gives you the following extras:

1. Vastly improved SLA’s

Typically 3-5 days guaranteed turn around time when you send a device back for repair.  Warranty with any manufacturers depend on the demand they have at the time and it is common to see 15+ days turn around time on warranty repairs.

2. Accidental Cover

Damage to your Rugged PDA that is accidental in nature includes cracked LCD’s, damage after drops or general wear and tear usage.  I must add here that all support contracts have an “abuse” clause written in, noone is going to repair 20 cracked LCD’s in a month and let that go by without us having a chat about how this has happened but your rugged handhelds are covered for normal accidental breakages.

3. Repair bills included

All your repair bills are included, you pay nothing more for your rugged PDA repairs, including labour and parts.

4. Better OS and general Software support.

Motorola no longer give anything away for free so if you want that WM6.5 upgrade you need a support contract now.

5. Improved Escalation

Having a support contract also gives you far quicker access into the higher levels of engineering.  From day to day repairs this isn’t really a relevant point but for more awkward issues, you’ll get a far quicker response rate from the manufacturers.  It really oils everything for you.

6. Total Cost of Ownership

The whole concept of support is the you get TCO for your whole solution for a set period of time.  It just gives you a pricing that, unless you start abusing your contract, remains at a set pricing, allowing you to focus on your business, not keeping your mobile platform running.  I have to say that we have never heard anyone tell us that their support contract was a waste of money, in fact quite the contrary.

7. Foundations for extra services

A Rugged PDA support product also gives you the foundation for a whole list of other repair services including things like:

  • OS and software Image loading
  • Device servicing and cleaning
  • Reporting and account overview
  • Express services improving SLA’s further
  • Postage inclusive collection services
  • Drop off Rugged PDA’s

These tend to be customised areas that can be tailored to your solution but they are available with most of the devices we now sell here.

What you don’t get

Now I have experience of Mission Critical Server support from working at HP for some years and what is still not possible is having a 4 hour Fix SLA on devices.  I think the main issue with this is the sheer numbers and the mobile nature of the device.  However there are services that will give you a dropped of device on pickup of your faulty one so it’s getting close.

Onsite support is something that a year ago I would have said it’s not possible, but we’re also now building services that offer onsite support in various forms.  It is still fairly costly but for some its genuinely worth it.

Abusive support is also not covered for obvious reason.  We have years of service statistics so we know what the likely returns should be for any device and if you’re a blip on the scale we’ll know.  However we’re not like network “Insurance” where we either put the pricing up substantially without warning or simply cut the service.  We always spend time with problem customers address issues long before this happens.

Perhaps the main thing missing from support is theft of the device.  However we’re working on that here so always ask about this element of the support.  Don’t forget that a typical Rugged PDA costs about 3-4 times that of a smartphone and they tend to be a lot less desirable to thieves!

Other options

It is still feasible to do your own support?  Well yes and we still get people who need to swap out devices quickly just keeping their own “pool” of rugged PDA’s and paying for repairs as they happen and this can work quite well for the right solution.  The benefit of this are that if you have a more controlled environment with users who will look after the device then you might be wasting money on support contracts, but I would say the trend is to move away from this model, especially for customers who have tried and tested solutions that have become business critical to them now.

So there’s a bit about support options!  products are varied and every manufacturer has their own products that are slightly different in what they offer and how they work.  If you want to know more than get in touch as we know about all the service products here and can guide you through easily.

I’ll leave  you with one last thought.  As Rugged Mobile solutions become more critical to the way your business works, you need to shift your thinking away from the Device you are using and to how you can support your business not just faulty devices.  It’s key to having a solution that works for you in the long run.

The Rugged and Mobile blog.

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