Rugged PDA LCD brightness – What’s in a NIT

27 05 2011

The Rugged PDA market has seen a lot of new devices recently and its ever more important to have a USP for your device.  Motorola has been spending a lot of time during their recent products launches of the ES400 and the MC65 rugged PDA’s on the new super bright screens that they sport, especially regarding the NIT rating of them so we thought we’d dig a little bit deeper and tell you all about what this really means.  We did this in true RAM way and conducted a few experiments on the devices.

Rugged PDA Screen Brightness varies (Es400, MC65, BIP-5000)

Rugged PDA Screen Brightness varies (Es400, MC65, BIP-5000)

Whats in a NIT

Firstly a little bit about NITS.  The term NIT comes from the latin word nitere which means to shine.  All lovely and nice but what about the science!  A NIT is a unit of measure of emitted luminance.  It’s derived from the Candela which is the SI base unit of luminous intensity which measures this in a scientific manner via waveform strength (a whole other blog).  The reason this is not good for us and LCD screens is that we are looking at overall luminosity of the whole panel and thus we need a way of looking at luminosity over and area.  A NIT is precisely this, and is a calculation of Candela’s over a given area.  In fact 1 NIT = 1cd / m2.

Normally you see LCD panels in TVs and monitors expressed as cd/m2 so we can see here that a NIT is simply the name given to this calculation.

NIT benchmarks

Now lets put this into perspective by giving you some typical benchmarks for NIT ratings:

  • CRT TV/Monitor – 350 nits
  • Budget LCD TV – 350 nits
  • HDTV – 400-450 nits
  • Brand new premium HD TV – < 1000 nits
  • Old or budget Laptops – 200-300 nits
  • Macbook pro – 450 nits (unofficial figure)
  • Brand new Lenovo w700 – 400 nits

So we can start to see that claims of 750+ nits on the ES400 are indeed exceptional.

The NIT V’s The Lumen

Both of these measurements are often mixed up and both also based on the Candela.  The difference is the Lumen is a measure of reflected light intensity and this is the reason you see projectors measured in lumens and not the same NIT rating as an LCD.  The reason is you;re looking directly at emitted light on an LCD, whereas you;re looking at reflected light when looking at a projector screen.

This got us thinking though with our experiments.

Sunlight readability in Practise

So we had a look at the ES400 and MC65 against other LCD’s, in fact the best known topology and Casio screens we know of here and the results can be clearly seen below.  In our controlled lighting environment you can see clearly how bright the ES400 is, the Motorola MC65 not so bright to be honest, but still marginally brighter than rival devices.

Same Screens, Same Brightness, with real life reflections - Not as clear cut now?

Same Screens, Same Brightness, with real life reflections – Not as clear cut now?

However we wondered if the Lumens of the screen where in fact affecting the NITS.  What the heck does that mean…well it means that whilst in a controlled environment the MC65 looked brighter, it also reflected too much light in a real world environment which affected the screen readability more than the brightness.  The ES400 was so bright that it had enough oomph to look good everywhere but the result is with a good ant-reflective screen, we can;t see much difference in the readability of the MC65 screen.


At minimal viewing angles  reflected LCD light effects screen readability more than the NIT rating of the LCD to a point with the 750+ NIT rating of the ES400 screen starting to basically crack the nut with a sledge hammer.  At certain angles of view however, the NIT rating mattered less as the angle grew with reflections causing poor readability full stop.

Solution, get yourself a glare stopping LCD protector!

The Rugged and Mobile blog.

M3 Mobile’s M3 orange Announced

26 05 2011

We’ve not been fans of mobile Compia Rugged PDA’s here , I’ll be straight up about that and the reasons for it.  In our tests the devices tend to be a little bit rough and ready, there are some glaring issues with the current M3’s we don’t like and the distribution model is totally skewed towards certain resellers making for an un-even playing in the UK which in turn means customers are not getting an impartial view when talking to these guys.  It makes for a closed shop and creates a hidden risk for customers which we don’t like here.  It’s not transparent.

Having said this we’re always open to giving second chances here and as such are particularly eager to see the new M3 Orange and if it addresses any of the )technical faults at least) that the older M3’s had.

I’m not going to regurgitate the spec for you, if you want to see it it’s here: What I will do is put our spin on what has happened here.

M3 Mobile's M3 Orange Rugged PDA

M3 Mobile’s M3 Orange Rugged PDA

Firstly it is interesting to see that the M3 Orange looks like it might have included everything in the device this time rather than making it a fully modular type of affair.  Older M3 Sky’s allowed you to literally take out all the modules including BT, WiFi, GSM, HSDPA, Scanner, so its niche for us was about providing a super inexpensive device that had everything stripped out.  This isn’t the case here so we have always found that the M3 has been on a par with even Motorola devices on price when specced up to the same level so if this is the case we’d expect this device to be a lot cheaper.  If it’s not then we’re going to have trouble selling it.

There are few welcome changes on this device though.  The GPS module (I am told) is brand new and will fix in under 15 minutes, thank god for that one!!  There are qwerty and numeric keyboard options and finally there is an extended 3300mAh battery that replaces those nasty old little 2000mAh ones that were not good to anyone!!  There is also the same RFID reader built in to certain models so you can still have the same spec device with the RFID module.  I personally worked with this RFID reader 3 years ago and found it to be pretty slick.

Interestingly they had stuck to a QVGA screen.  There are absolutely no issues with the using the newer topology VGA screen with the CPU so I am guessing that this will be to reduce cost.

Other than that there’s not a lot new about this device which brings pro’s and cons with it.  The PXA320 806MHz platform will bring stability and a sound performing platform but at the same time there’s nothing really new or special here.  Whilst it has made a leap for M3 Mobile, it’s only just playing catch up with everything else out there now.

I’ll leave you with this. Over 75% of the costs of any Rugged PDA solution come after you deploy so whilst the up front pricing for the M3 Orange will be important, they also have to get far better at service and support.  This is what I mean when I talk about an unfair playing in the UK for this device.  It has made people selling the M3 into a non impartial scenario for some customers and the service and support for these is simply not up to scratch compared other manufacturers.  If M3 Mobile can get the price of the M3 Orange, their distribution channel leashed in and the service and support issues sorted out then it could have just walked back in the room.  If not then we see at least 1 new device per month in this category these days and it might not have done enough to stay in a very different market to last year. Watch this space.

The Rugged and Mobile blog.

Pidion BM150R Discontinued

25 05 2011
Pidion BM150R Discontinued

Pidion BM150R (left) replaced by BM170 (Right)

The Pidion BM150R has finally been discontinued.

This was a very popular device with us here and it made some great ground when the MC35 and P6500 were discontinued and not replaced for over 18 months, however, despite getting some nice little upgrades in the past 18 months, the BM150R has finally been formally discontinued by Pidion.

The replacement will be the Pidion BM170 which has a technology platform inline with the latest generation Pidion family and based on the 806MHz XScale PXA320 processor.  Despite running these 2 devices along side for about a year now with a seemingly “fluffy” strategy at best at how these would run together, the decision was finally made to go full hog with the BM170 about 3 months ago.

The notice is a little short on this for my liking, but don’t forget we’re talking Semi-Rugged here and this is far better than the 2 weeks we got on the MC35 and HTC P6500 so it’s not bad at all.

We are also experienced here at providing blended Pidion PDA platforms and the BM170 and BM150R sit at ease with each other, despite the BM170 having WM6.5.  However we can get this round for you.

Come ask if you want to know more.  We can still fulfill orders adhoc if required but if your buying a BM150R, it’s from old stock now!!

The Rugged and Mobile blog.

Open Source Rugged PDA

16 05 2011

The Rugged PDA is becoming the centre of line of business solutions, and as this happens we are all finding we’re living in a very different and fast changing world.  The fundamental shift we are seeing right now is from one of “Data Capture” to one of powerful do it all line of business application.  You can conjure up the image of an outpost, satellite or something in the “Data Capture” device and more of a resourceful, self repairing special forces chap or chaps in the other!

The fact remains that the Rugged PDA is going to bare more business weight than ever as we see the latest young wave of kids take up their decision-making and management positions and it’s interesting to see who’s accommodating this and who isn’t in the Manufacturer, Distributor and Reseller world.  I think it’s certainly an area where the newly adopted phrase “Bigger IS NOT better” sits as comfortably as anywhere.

As this shift occurs, we rely more and more on manufacturers to bend and flex with this change.  If they don’t (And believe me they won’t and by the time they will, they’ll find out they can’t anyway) they will bring us all down and I think we’re at the limits of this now.  So what to do?….

….In our madness here at RAM we think the concept of open sourcing your Rugged PDA is the strategy that is required in the future.  This not about making everything for free, although LINUX has done pretty well hasn’t it.  It’s about a focus on making a superb Rugged PDA and then letting others repair it, accessorize it, make it unique with the ultimate aim of adopting it as a solution all wrapped in their own little services and world.  How deep and rich would a market like this be and how innovative would it become?  At the moment everyone has to sell the same old stuff, its hard to be truly different without major business risk and I think there are people who like it this way!

Sounds great to me but the main problem is that it will mean manufactures will need to make their products more honest and transparent.  We will need PIN outs, full parts availability or even the ability to make our own, and a community where customers and competitors will be motivated to share and help each other with the goal of supporting the platform we all live and die upon.  Will the larger manufacturers of today do this…I think not because they will also have to learn how to settle for less too in the new world that is dawning, I can tell you they won’t because I have already had the conversations with them.

So will the rugged PDA leaders of tomorrow be the same as today…Certainly not, in fact some probably haven’t even been born yet as companies but what is true is that there’s a whole shift in general attitude that will inevitably drive us to doing things in a way that I think most manufacturers will not be flexible enough to do.

Food for thought if for nothing else.

The Rugged and Mobile blog.

Rugged PDA Service – The Future

13 05 2011

So as we draw Rugged PDA Support week to a close I thought it would be nice to create a thought piece article about where Rugged PDA Service has been and where it’s going in the future.  I’ll splash it with a little bit of opinion in true Friday fashion!

Rugged PDA Support History

It’s actually very interesting to draw parallels with the Desktop and Server industry when you talk about Smartphones and Rugged PDA’s because they look very similar in many ways.  In the early days of Rugged PDA’s there were only a few, they were hefty, expensive and they were repaired.  In fact they were tinkered with, tweaked, repaired and because they tended to be quite special in the business there tended to be longer times to do anything.

As the Rugged PDA became more popular we saw repair centre’s springing up everywhere but in my opinion the whole attitude was far from Mission Critical.  I used to work at another Reseller who where and remain very unethical about how they do things and they saw their repair centre as a necessary evil rather than a way to provide better service to their customers.  They were also purposely slow with devices that they had not sold personally and the end result was that their were devices left on shelves for weeks with little process or professionalism about the whole thing.

It was Motorola who then really forced a change.  They weren’t actually the first but their range of “Service from the Start” products were the ones that started to realise Rugged PDA’s were becoming the heart of line of business solutions and they needed a product that could be relied.  They couldn’t trust the repair centre model, I think at the time they were right and they brought it all back in to their own fold.  Everyone followed suit and that’s why today you’ll be hard pressed to find any real differences in the main manufacturers when it comes to Rugged PDA Service, Support and Warranty.

The trouble with Manufacturer Service Products

You know what, the manufacturer lead products were something that had to happen.  It was a mess out there and something needed to be done and they stepped in, but the trouble is that nothing has changed since when a whole bunch stuff has been happening in our world.  Manufacturer lead service products are clean and neat to sell, but they are not guarantees of TCO and they do not stick to their SLA’s all the time.  Despite this we’re seeing a pressure to “Attach” service on all PDA sales with phrases like “It’s the only way you can Guarantee Parts” being used to frighten you into buying them rather than letting the value of them stand on their own two feet.  if you’ve recently tried to get out of warranty support with them then you’ll know what I mean!

The products have become stale, inflexible, you are treated as a number and if anything slightly out of process happens then it all goes wrong and the Reseller has to step in, despite not having been paid a thing to do so as we’re selling someone elses product, not our own any more.  It’s not a recipe for success in the world we live in today.

The Future, The Answer

There are a lot of excellent service centres out there, not just in the Rugged PDA world, out there who would surprise you with the number of engineers they have in their service centres.  I mean big brands with 1 or 2 engineers covering the whole of Europe.  You know what, their service is far better than any of the larger manufacturer offerings and it does beg the question if they have gone a bit “Supermarket” on the service element and I can tell you where our thinking is here.  The facts remain it’s about people not process and its about listening to the customers and reacting not telling them what they need and I mean reacting in a few days, not having 6 months of discussion groups and process re-engineering, I mean being truly bespoke.  Can a manufacturer do that?  not on your nelly, they simply do not have the relationship with the end users or the ability to change.  Can the resellers do that, yes definitely.  We have the conversation every day on a range of products and we live in a world where we can build quickly and do better, faster, less expensive quite easily now.

What I do know is that service products need to be far more flexible.  they need to be far more innovative, they need to be far more personable and they need to serve a world that wants to fix, repair, be adhoc and be treated special at the same time.  The world has changed and we need to change with it!

The Rugged and Mobile blog.

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