Android Vs Windows Mobile Rugged PDA’s….Fight!!!

31 08 2011

Android Takes on Windows Mobile in the Rugged PDA Market Place

The war begins! Android Takes on Windows Mobile in the Rugged PDA Market Place

I thought I’d continue the Google Android theme this week by looking at a comparison of Android Vs the rugged markets mainstay Windows Mobile.”  Before I go on, sorry for the very “British” joke in the image this morning, Harry hill just had to be used for this one!!

A long time ago in a galaxy far far away…. there was a little OS called Windows mobile, it had happily grown from its Pocket PC roots and changed its name every year, but importantly everyone was happy!  Suddenly PDA’s started to converge other technologies onto them though like phones, cameras and they wanted to be more connected and Windows Mobile struggled to keep up but held on.  Then non-business folk wanted to have a smartphone too and Windows Mobile broke!  Joking aside, we all know the story of how WM fell from grace in the wake of Apple IOS, Android and even Blackberry OS but in the rugged market things are very different.  We’ve only really had the choice of Windows Mobile or CE until now (See may last blog on new Android Rugged PDA’s here), so whilst my last post was possibly a tad unfair on the Android OS itself, I thought i’d give it a closer look and compare some of the main differences between the two.

Google entered the fray att he end of 2007 with an OS that is essentially a full Linux based one but completely and utterly written form the ground up for mobile devices.  Its main benefits are that it kind of includes all its networking abilities and touch screen functionality in the core making it very competent to run full-blown applications.

Web Browser

Android has a proper web browser optimised for web browsing and its second only to the iPhone in my view, better in some ways.  MIE on the Windows Mobile OS is still a clunky patched up bodged affair that’s plain awful to browse sites on.

Office and PIM apps

The difference here is stark.  WM gets you using the Mobile Office apps which are all built on top of an old Sync architecture but its a tried and tested set of apps that will give you no issues (Ahem, few issues) when trying to view and edit office documents.  It also has innate support for Exchange and push email.  Android tries to get you using Google Apps and anything Microsoft related is usually down to some app largely written by the handset makers.  It makes the Android PDA more suited to working in the cloud, but the lure of using proper Office apps is hard to get round.

Touch Screens

WM is a stylus friendly OS, even with the last gasps of WM6.5.3 or WEH6.5 (Windows Embedded Handheld) it’s just not designed to be used with fingers at all.  Android whether on a capacitive or touch screen is clearly written to be used by your finger from the ground up.  Is this a benefit in the rugged market?  I don’t know and it will be interesting to see how apps cope with signature capture and the stylus wielding engineers out there!

SDK Support

Like it or not, the SDKs at the moment are all very new for Rugged Android PDA’s and they are not as mature or fully functional as their WM counterparts.  Time will correct this but it is worth mentioning that a lot of the SDK and API functionality that you need to use features such as the barcode scanner in an effective manner are behind and often down to someone somewhere in the community writing something for them.  It’s a risk you need to think about.

Licensing and Support

This is definitely a case of not being able to have your cake and eat it.  Android is free, it can be fitted onto any PDA with the right programming expertise and you can just download build files and get going.  It’s going to mean a plethora of devices will hit the market in the coming years of all shapes and sizes.  WM is still based an old per device license.  However the benefits of this are also the cons as we’ll see different flavours or Android, different builds and versions that will be harder to support.  In the Smartphone market you can really see Android working, but in the line of business market, I’m not so sure.  We’ve already seen how Windows CE, which is also free can really make moving Rugged PDA difficult and Android will be no exception to this.

Hardware support

Plain to see.  Its 2 for Android right now and 100+ for WM or WEH.  This will change as we see new devices hit the market and Android will give smaller manufacturers a bite of the cherry but at the moment if you choose Android, you have a very limited choice of handsets, albeit very popular and very good ones!

The future

The future is going to be very interesting, and I think we can draw a lot of parallels with the old LINUX Vs Windows fight we saw in the server world here.  However the mobile world is different and I an OS that’s more open source could work far better in this market.  Whilst Android is a great OS, open source and growing in popularity, app support and developers hugely now, the fact remains in the rugged market it still needs more adoption by manufacturers and companies that are willing to support it in a mission critical world.  That my friends is where the fight will be.

The conclusion is that I like Windows Mobile, but then again I also like Google Android……Which one’s best…..FIGHT!!!

The Rugged and Mobile blog.





Android Rugged PDA’s Arrive

30 08 2011
Android (left) and WM (Right) running on the BIP-6000

Android (left) and WM (Right) running on the BIP-6000

So we all know that Google’s operating system for Mobile devices, namely Android, has taken the smartphone and tablet world by storm With but does  it work in the Rugged world and what Android Rugged PDA’s are available?

With Google Android being free and open source, it was only a  matter of time before it became available on a Rugged PDA and as usual it seems to be Pidion that are first to adopt and certify the OS on 2 of their rugged PDA’s.  Pidion have a lot of “firsts” in their history which makes them such a great platform to develop on and this is another case of them being first here, dealing with all the issues new tech brings whilst others sit and watch!

There are open builds available but Pidion have decided to adopt and certify a version, V2.1, for 2 of their devices the Pidion BIP-6000 and their semi-rugged BM170.  Both run version 2.1 of the OS and both run it very smoothly indeed.  In terms of using the PDA with android in it, they both perform perfectly fine, no glitches or annoying freezes but it’s where the SDK reaches that’s important for us folk.  There is an SDK for both Android versions of the devices.  The BM170 is pretty well complete as it doesn’t carry any big options or scanning hardware in it.  The BIP-6000 has now got inclusion for the RFID Reader and Barcode scanners in the SDK which are growing all the time to come into line with the Microsoft Windows Mobile ones for the devices.

Why Android?

Unlike Apple IOS, Android is a real contender to the Rugged OS world because it’s free, open source, supportable by resellers and manufacturers and above all it also gives users with Linux or UNIX expertise something to play with in the mobile field.  In effect it could provide your business with an end to end solution from Server to Field which 1 team could in theory support and develop for.  It can’t be ignored and it looks like we have a Microsoft V Linux thing going to start-up all over again!!

I personally don’t like Android devices, I have had too many years of Microsoft and Apple affecting my judgement but most of the office here do and when you step back from your own judgement you can see an OS that is more than equal to Windows Mobile and a platform that is easy to adopt and develop for.

Android for Line of Business?

Would I recommend Android?  Well not yet, we’re seeing a lot of people test with it, no-one has yet to buy one though and above all the major worry for me is that supportability of the OS versions.  Older versions are already off the support matrix and the main crowd tend to follow only the last 2 or 3 version updates so it is important for the device manufacturer to certify and run with a version that they will adopt and support for years to come.  Until this happens and we get a better roadmap for Android versions then we’re not too happy about placing a line of business app on them but mark my words, this is a small issue to overcome and we’re already working on how we can do this with some manufacturers.

So Android is here in the Mission Critical Rugged World, it was only a matter of time and its alive and kicking.  It does give us a real OS that is decent, good to develop on and of course opens up mobile to the non-Microsoft developer community and technically speaking its more than ready as an OS.  Indeed many software houses are already developing popular line of business apps against it too.  However it’s not ready yet for the

The Rugged and Mobile blog.





Windows Mobile Registry Tweaks Made Easy

25 08 2011
Windows Mobile Registry Tweaks Made Easy

Windows Mobile Registry Tweaks Made Easy

As you’re probably aware the Rugged PDA market is predominantly Windows Mobile or Windows CE, Microsoft in a word and despite being beaten up all over in the shiny smartphone sector of the market, both of these operating systems remain extremely competent for us line of business folk in the rugged market.  One area that’s extensive and quite interesting to discover on devices is the registry and it’s in here that you can browse, add and change existing settings on any rugged PDA.  In fact depending on the manufacturer there are often a plethora of things you can tweak.

However tweaking the registry is often out of the skill set of the average user, however there is a great little tool we use that can create a CAB file for you, that simply executes on your rugged handheld and changes the required settings.  CAB files can also be included as part of your OS build or persistent set-up to so once installed they will make the changes permanent no matter what happens to the device.

Here’s how:

  1. Download a tool called CERegEditor, which is freely available.  Come ask me here if you need a copy.
  2. Then connect your rugged PDA and browse and change the registry key you would like to change.
  3. You might need to unlock the registry before you can make edits, do this by selecting “Tools -> Unlock Registry” for the Menu.
  4. Now right-click on the key or keys you want to change and edit them.
  5. Now the tricky bit, you have to make a Reg file first that will contain all the details of the changes for you.  Click on the key and select the Export button.  Keep the default changes but create a nice name for the Reg file.
  6. When you;ve done this, open the reg file, it will just show you the registry information it has in it.  You might want to delete some keys, or add some at this point.
  7. Now just select “Reg -> CAB” from the conversion menu item, enter your owner name and version info and this will create a CAB file that can be run on the intended device.

It’s just a nice way to give our customers changes and tweaks without them having to dive in to the registry themselves so if you need any help like this at all, come talk to us here and we’re always happy to help.

The Rugged and Mobile blog.





How to protect your Rugged PDA LCD

23 08 2011
Rugged PDA Cracked LCD Prevention

Rugged PDA Cracked LCDs can often be Prevented

We’ve had a spate of LCD breakages in the repair centre here the past month so I thought I’d do a quick article on how you can protect your LCD proactively.  Depending on the device and the age of it, an LCD replacement can cost from £150 upwards of £350 and your Rugged PDA will be out of action whilst it is repaired too.  The few simple actions below can work wonders at reducing the number of LCD breakages you have.

1. Use Protection!!

We always offer screen protectors to our customers here but a lot still don’t bother with them.  A scratch protector will defend against scratches and dirt which can add up over time (Have you seen the post office PDA’s recently!!) but we can go a step further with an inexpensive impact protecting screen protector that will actually help against knocks and bangs.

2. Cases

We just did a week on cases so I’ll keep this short!  Cases with flip covers or anything that covers the LCD will make a marked reduction in the number of LCD breaks you have, not only because they protect the LCd but also they can stop your users dropping the device in the first place.

3. Education

Biro pens, dirty gloves, pieces of wood and metal, in fact anything but the stylus designed for the Rugged PDA will harm the screen and scratch it irreversibly over time.  Like-wise toolboxes, ladders and getting out of vehicles seem to be a common area where devices are dropped, but there are lots you can do to prevent them.  If you educate your users to use the screen properly they will last longer.

BIP-5000 Stylus

Keep some spares!

4.  Keep spares

Following on from (4) above, make sure you have enough spares to ensure your users are equipped properly.  For the sake of a couple of hundred pounds you can have enough spare cases, protectors and stylus’ on the shelf for an estate of 100+ rugged handhelds.

5.  Service Packs

Sometimes you simply can’t get round an LCD breakage.  The LCD is a very delicate part of the Rugged PDA and it is inevitable you’ll get the odd break here and there.  You can reduce your risks and costs significantly by opting for a service pack.  This will not only give you an SLA, reducing the tie your device is out of action, but it will also eliminate the costs as the parts and labour costs are covered by the service pack over the ter you have bought it.  It’s often the case that for the cost of just 1 LCD break you can have the assurance of a full comprehensive service pack for 2 or 3 years.

Come talk to us here at Rugged and Mobile if you want to know more about anything you can do to stop your devices getting broken, we’re always happy to help.

The Rugged and Mobile blog.





Pidion BM170 cases for £25

22 08 2011
BM170 Cases

BM170 Cases come in all shapes and sizes

We’ve mentioned the ES400 PDA all week so I wanted to just end this series on cases by looking at what the main Motorola ES400 alternative can offer too.

The Motorola ES400 benefits from numbers and the way it’s marketed so people like Otterbox have a brand and demand reason to supply a case, however the BM170 isn’t that far behind but in the absence of an Otterbox what else is there?  In this article we look at what just £25 will buy you for the Pidion BM170 semi-rugged PDA.

On the Flip-side

Firstly we also provide  exact same case designs for the BM170 flips styles as we do for any other Rugged PDA in the Pidion or Motorola range that matter.  There’s the same leather and Synthetic flip cases available, they’re re-designable and they’re still just £25.

Holsters

We provide 2 holsters for the BM170, both even less expensive and one is even completely budget at £15 and £12 respectively. If you need something cheap, simple but cheerful, then look no further than here.

Is that an Otterbox you’re wearing…

Or just a silicon case?  There is a  great silicone case for the BM170 too which is designed to fit either the standard or extended battery versions.  It’s thick, solid and in our view here gives as good protection as an Otterbox does and it has hand strap which can be removed or a belt strap attached instead.  Again these retail at just over £25 each.

Right, we’re done on cases for a while now, just remember a few good rules to go by with cases are:

  • No case makes a durable, semi-rugged PDA or smartphone rugged.  if you need rugged then buy rugged.
  • Despite the above, a good case will help keep any PDA in tip-top condition, not only helping with its life but also its resale value when you come to change your mobile hardware.
  • A Good PDA case also has lots of hidden advantages like aiding usability and giving your workers more ways to attach devices so they don’t fall in the first place.
  • Most cases are bespoke and can be tweaked or even redesigned to carry your brand or a design that fits perfectly with your needs.

Come talk to us any time here at RAM and we’ll be happy to help.

The Rugged and Mobile blog.








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