Pidion Rugged PDA Range gets Mid-Term Upgrades

30 06 2011
Pidion Rugged PDA Upgrades

Hmmm….Upgrades! – Pidion Upgrades its Rugged PDA Range

Pidion are undergoing a lot of changes right now and their Pidion Rugged PDA range is no exception.  Although you wouldn’t notice the changes form the outside, as this is a mid term upgrade, the differences to the devices are quite exciting in some cases.

The PDA’s that have been upgraded are the main selling BM170, BIP-5000 and BIP-6000 devices that form Pidions Semi rugged, lightweight rugged and super rugged PDA devices.  We’ll cover off here, exactly what has been changed, why and the benefits of the changes.

Pidion BM170 – Hardware changes

The BM170 is Pidions newest device so its no surprise that there is only 1 change and this is due to a manufacturer-wide LCD change.  The older Toppoloy LCD’s have now been changed for newer casio screens that are far brighter and more sensitive than the older screens used.  THe difference is actually quite stark and the experience the users will get is far more akin to the LCD’s you see on the Motorola series of rugged handhelds.  The change will not affect how the devices work.

Pidion BIP-5000 Changes

Like the BM170 the BIP-5000 has been the subject of the same LCD upgrade, wlthough in the BIP-5000 it remains a QVGA (320×240) resolution so it will fit in nicely with any current platforms.  The LCD has the same improvements being far brighter, more colourful as well as having a better digitiser.

The BIP-5000 has also undergone an upgrade to its GSM/GPRS radio chip where it now uses the newer Siemans MC75.  Like the older MC55 chip, the MC75 is found in a plethora of devices, they are established, stable and a quality product that will only bring further stability to the BIP-5000 range.

The stylus on the BIP-500 has also been upgraded with a nice quuality plastic metal with plastic ended stylus that is nearer in quality to the BIP-6000 one.

Pidion BIP-6000 Changes

The BIP-6000 has undergone the  most change.  Firstly the most exciting change is that new MAX RFID chip.  The internal RFID reader has undergone a total re-design which has seen the chip upgraded and the aerial moved and improved.  Our tests on our demo model have proven already that the range compared to the older BIP-6000 RFID series is vastly improved for HF reading and makes the BIP-6000 the best HF reading Rugged PDA available today.  We’re really impressed by this upgarde to be honest.

The LCD has also been upgraded in line with the above devices.  The LCD unit in the BIP-6000 remains a VGA (640×480) affair.

The Camera in the BIP-6000 has been replaced.  It rmeains as a 3MP unit but uses a newer Aptina Sensor which will improve images taklen with the device.

The device has also replaced its mDOC 512MB of ROM with a NAND version of the memory and it adds a G-Sensor to the board.  Our suspicions here are that it won’t be long before we see both Android and WM6.5 or WEH6.5 available fo rthis device and quite soon.

Pidion are doing a lot at the moment and are probably the most active of all Rugged PDA manufacturers at the moment.  There’s a lot in the pipeline and these changes will only m ake their kit more desirable and competent to use.  Don’t forget that we carry 100′s of devices here in our demo stock so if you’re in the market for a rugged PDA, just come and ask us for a loan so you can decide what’s right for you.  We also provide a range of service options for Pidion and other manufacturers delivered right from our very own service and innovation centre so be sure to check this out too.

http://www.ruggedandmobile.com

The Rugged and Mobile blog.





Top 3 Mobile EPOS Terminals

28 06 2011
The MT-2350, BIP-1300 and B-PAD

MObile EPOS Terminals – The MT-2350, BIP-1300 and B-PAD

So to complete our series of blogs on Mobile EPOS Terminals we’ll take a look at the top-selling devices in the market today.

Pidion BIP-1300

Inexpensive, comes in lots of configurations including PCI and RFID versions and is easy to use with a  simple SDK.  The BIP-1300 comes with a printer, mag and chip readers as standard and has WM5.0 at the heart of its development platform.  You can build your applications easily onto this device and we love it because you also get everything you need to get started in the box with the device.  Watch out for the BIP-1500 that has been earmarked for launch now but the popularity of the BIP-1300 device means we think it will be around for a while yet.  Only downside is WM5.0 which is getting a bit long in the tooth now for some.

Partnertech MF-2350

Fully Specced and probably the most up to date in this bunch hardware-wise, the MF2350 is versatile and does everything you need.  It can be configured to exactly your needs, has RFID Options and its only Achilles heel is that its only available in CE 5.0.

Fujitsu B-Pad

This little device was probably made most famous by Apple as it was used originally in their stores until they came up with their own iPod Touch / iPhone based system.  CE 5.0 only with no printer means it wasn’t for some but it’s small, light and again easy to programme with.  Not as cheap as the BIP-1300.

If you want to see the whole series of blogs you can catch the homepage here:

The Rugged and Mobile blog.





Mobile EPOS – The Challenges

24 06 2011
The Challenges of Mobile EPOS

Mobile EPOS will bring a whole new set of challenges

So far we’ve looked at all the benefits and possibilities that Mobile EPOS Terminals bring and we love to err on the side of positivity but we also need to have a look at some of the challenges that new EPOS technology is faced with.  As new technology grows and even attempts to face some of the previous challenges, new ones are placed before it and as with all emerging and growing technology EPOS has its own set of challenges.

Fraud

Perhaps the biggest threat to Mobile EPOS is fraud.  We’ve already hear stories about the new RFID enabled cards being scanned whilst in our own back pockets and giving your credit card to someone in the field with a mobile EPOS terminal poses some pretty big challenges in some respects.  Technology is wonderful and in the right hands can blossom and change people’s lives.  However there are still a lot of people out their intent on abusing technology and Mobile Epos, just like mobile in general, will have its security issues.  You have to think about these when deploying a mobile solution.

General Mobile Security Scenario

The mobile scenario itself brings a whole set of security challenges with it.  Data is no longer stored in safe, locked up servers and lies on terminals that could be easily lost or stolen and whilst actual cash is taken out of the equation, credit card details are something that criminals love to get their hands on!  It is essential you comply with the right regulations and also make every effort to secure data with agood data protection process and plan.

User Challenges

User roles have to change in order to embrace the Mobile EPOS Terminal scenario.  It takes away the established Checkout Operator role and creates new roles for staff, which won’t be welcomed by all.  Your technical guys might have to now do a little bit of payment and receipting as part of their work schedule.  Your classic payment staff might not want to take on a more expert driven advisory role so there are people challenges to employing a mobile EPOS solution as well as technical ones.

Technical Challenges

Mobile EPOS terminals are no longer sitting in 1 place so you have a wealth of technical challenges in order to manage, repair and service users and equipment.  Data is also stored in a more fragmented manner which brings data synchronisation challenges, some more complex than others.  EPOS terminals are also trying to do everything so have 1 piece of equipment with everything built-in can present cost and downtime challenges if not approached in the right manner.

Customer challenges

Some will delight at having the Apple experience, others will balk at having their credit card read by some chap with a clever device, with all those “Skimming” horror stories we hear about on the news in the fronts of their minds!  To be truly Mobile EPOS your users might be in the field in a scenario where its difficult to gain the trust of customers to give over credit card details so you have to accept these new challenges and deal with them in a way that will give your customers a better experience, not a worse one.

As we see Mobile EPOS grow, of course there will be challenges and I’m sure we’ll stories on the news breaking soon about data and fraud going on but we have to remember that, like with all emerging tech, these are the fringes of the problems.  If we do things right, face the main challenges down then we’ll see things blossom as they should!

Tomorrow we’ll take a look at some actual Mobile EPOS devices to round things off.

The Rugged and Mobile blog.





Mobile EPOS In Practise – What can mobile EPOS do?

23 06 2011

In its most basic form Mobile EPOS comes in the shape of the credit card terminals that most shops have these days.  The WiFi versions of these are used to take credit cars at the table to offer convenience and a degree of trust by not taking your card away from you at any point in the transaction.

Pidion’s BIP-1300 has been used for years on airlines, and for us British folk Easyjet has used them on their planes for about 4 years now to take your credit card details if you buy anything from the duty-free trolley onboard the aircraft.  Here they’ve taken things a step further by taking your credit card details and by marrying this up with flight/travel details they can gain some extra business intelligence about their customers.

We’ve deployed other projects where credit card details have been taken and stored on the Mobile EPOS terminal for later transaction processing, in this instance it’s quite easy to take details using either the Magnetic stripe, Chip reader or even RFID reader of the Mobile EPOS device and then connect to a payments gateway on ethernet connection.  Using a PCI terminal you can also have a more live connection so that you can get more immediate feedback on credit card details.  It has to be noted that you never actually store the credit card details on the device, but codes that can be used for later processing of funds.

We’re working on a number of projects within EPOS right now.  Some are designed to give complex receipts to users without using the card reading functionality at all but making good use of the built-in printing facility.  Some are being looked at to read membership cards and there’s one very interesting project that are looking to see how they can integrate a Mobile EPOS terminal into their staff canteens that use a bespoke charge card for payments.  Some of these projects are using all in one EPOS terminals but some are also using a separate Rugged PDA/Mobile printer due to the complex printer requirements.  Much like your friendly neighbourhood parking meter attendants!

In retail the most commonly talked about solution is that used in Apple stores.  It grated for a long time that they used the old Fujitsu B-Pads with Windows Mobile on them.  “Apple have to use Windows to take customers money…” was a quote Steve Balmer often used.  Well now they use iPod touch’s with a bespoke jacket and application that in my mind works very well every time I’m in one of their stores.  Rugged it is not, but when you manufacture the hardware yourself maybe it doesn’t matter!!  The key element here is that you walk in a store and stay with the same salesperson from greeting to sale and you can clearly see how Apple employees are passionate and knowledgeable about their products and how this mobile EPOS terminal has helped that way of selling.

Lastly in supermarkets we’ve seen Motorola’s MC17 devices for many years.  I remember these things in Safeway stores over 20 years ago to be honest and also seeing them in Waitrose in Henley too!  They seem to be on the eternal pilot scheme but if used properly you can imagine how they could work.  At their most basic they allow users to scan items into specially rented baskets, eliminating the need to unload at the till (and load up again!).  It makes it easy on the customer.  But, these are windows mobile terminals and they could do a lot more.  Using a opensource mapping client like cloud made they could map their stores and give customers a SatNav experience to find items, alert customers when the bread has been put on offer and also maybe they could help you with ingredients for recipes.

The sky’s the limit when it comes to what the mobile part of EPOS can do and customers are now seeing the major potential of using a mobile EPOS terminal instead of the more traditional counter top devices.

The Rugged and Mobile blog.





Mobile EPOS – What Can it Do For You?

20 06 2011

So we’ve established that Mobile EPOS Devices are the way things are going but what can they actually do and are they really capable of taking over a shop till and ordering system?  Lets take a typical EPOS device and see what it can do…

Fujitsu B-Pad Scanning Barcodes

Fujitsu B-Pad Scanning Barcodes

Order Taking Application

Well firstly most Mobile EPOS devices that we sell here are Windows Mobile of some nature which means they are far more programmable than your typical credit card machine in a shop.  This means, with a little bit of Microsoft .NET expertise you can quickly create any kind of interface and functionality you want to on the device or there will be some off the shelf applications to get you going.  Lets not forget Android and Apple OSX either.  Whilst nothing is rugged in this market, there are solutions on both platforms that are being taken seriously in less rugged environments.

Add to this pretty much every Mobile EPOS device worth its salt has a Barcode scanner of some nature that will allow you to easily scan and select the products required for the order.

Payment Details

Next is taking payment and a typical mobile EPOS machine will have everything you need.  Lets take the Pidion BIP-1300, one of the most popular EPOS terminals we sell here.  It has a Mag stripe reader, Chip reader, RFID reader for the newer RFID touch based charge cards, they have a keypad for PIN numbers and it is PCI certified to handle and verify sensitive payment data.

Payment Verification

Pidion BIP-1300 EPOS Terminal - Not much it can't do!

Pidion BIP-1300 EPOS Terminal – Not much it can’t do!

Again we turn to the OS on the device again and we see that verifying payment over WiFi, GPRS/3G or even over Ethernet whilst cradled is easily achieved by most Mobile EPOS devices.  Some also now have finger print readers and they even have a phone built-in if you need to take a larger payment so you can call the Credit card company!!

Receipt

The last element of the customer order is to give some kind of receipt and whilst we could send this electronically something that’s puts EPOS device apart from normal Rugged PDA’s is the fact it has a printer built into it.  Most are 2″ wide and work exactly the same as the till receipt printer you see at a normal POS cash till.

Order Review

Feedback is important after every sale and you can easily create or buy an application that can update you when, say food or drinks have been delivered to the bar and are waiting to be served, or even to track something being delivered.  Just imagine with mobile EPOS you could even have a delivery update point to a tent at a festival!!The sky really is the limit for Mobile EPOS and yes they are capable little devices that can run a line of business application for you.  However more importantly for this series of blogs about Mobile EPOS we can now start to see how using a Mobile SPOS Terminal over the classic method opens up a whole host of new ways to work. Partnertech’s M1-POS can easily print receipts

Partnertech's M1-POS can easily print receipts

The Rugged and Mobile blog.








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