Honeywell Dolphin 6000 First Look

28 09 2011
Honeywell Dolphin 6000

Honeywell Dolphin 6000 – Small and Rugged

Just a quick product update this morning, we’ve held back on presenting the Honeywell Dolphin 6000 small rugged PDA a little bit simply because we’ve just not been sure what Honeywell have been up to the past 12 months.  Honeywell bought out both Metrologic and more importantly Hand Held Products about 18 months ago and whilst the range has suffered in my view whilst trimming down of the new company seemed be the priority, I have to say that some of the new HHP products are looking good again.  To be fair we have 4 new devices in this class too and we’ve been waiting to present them in a group test too.

We’re doing a full feature in small rugged PDA’s next week but for now the Honeywell Dolphin 6000 is something we wanted to present as it does have some USP’s that are going to make it a very flexible device.

Dolphin 6000 Price

Firstly the price is absolutely superb, at a £340 or £380 price point you get either the Windows Mobile 6.5 or Windows Embedded Handheld 6.5 version (See our blog on WIndows versions to learn more about that).  For that you get everything you need:

The MTK CPU

This is where a lot of the price has been shaved off as the Dolphin 6000 not only uses an MTK CPU, it’s a slow one at that too.  For those who don’t know, MTK are a chinese company who have basically copied the Qualcomm and Xscale chips, then providing these at a far less cost.  They tend to run less spec which is why 3G is missing from this device.  We’ve got plenty of devices we use to test with these chips in them and we think they perform really well.  Whether customers will be able to get over the branding issue on this is another matter but we’ll benchmark the CPU next week.

Dolphin 6000 Highlights

  • 256MB RAM / 512MB ROM
  • 2.8″ LCD
  • 3MP Camera
  • A-GPS
  • b/g WLan
  • BT
  • GSM with Edge
  • USB 2.0 interface
  • In the box is a std battery and door

Dolphin 6000 Low Lights

  • 1D scanner option only.
  • Qwerty keyboard option, wont be missed ona device this size in my view.
  • Edge only device
  • MTK CPU might not have quite enough power for some – We’ll test this next week though.

Perhaps the device’s Achilles heel is that it uses Edge (2.5G) for data.  Its class 12 so it will be handy and quick but not up to 3G, HSDPA or the HSUPA speeds of more expensive rival devices.  I don’t think this will be an issue for most customers.

It’s odd that the Adaptus 5 2D scanner engine is missing considering every other budget PDA uses this decent Honeywell OEM scanner.

Motorola ES400 Alternative?

We’ve been looking for a small rugged PDA’s to give customers a true alternative to the semi rugged PDA in the right scenario.  With the Dolphin 6000, on paper, it’s going to be far more suitable than the ES400 or BM170, in fact there may now be no reason to buy the Motorola ES400 at all.  We need to test out the device which we will be doing next week for its performance but I think this could be a great alternative to the ES400 for people looking for true barcode scanning ability in a fully rugged package.

Check back soon for more.

The Rugged and Mobile blog.





Rugged PDA Screen lowdown

26 09 2011
Rugged PDA Larger and Smaller Screen Sizes

Rugged PDA Larger and Smaller Screen Sizes

We blogged about the Rugged PDA largest screen last year but I thought with so many new Rugged PDA’s hitting the market now we’d do a new blog about all the different aspects and USPs manufacturers of Rugged Handhelds now put into their LCD Screens.

Size

Turns out size doesn’t indeed matter with a definite drive towards seeing rugged PDA screens being the smaller sized ones right now.  We’re actually seeing a split where certain more mature PDA implementations are looking for larger screens but many are still looking for the smallest Rugged Handhelds they can find.

Gone are the days of the 3.5″ LCD and not much else.  2.8″ is making a big comeback (Remember those old HTC devices with 2.8″ screens!!?), 3.0″, 3.2″, 3.5, 3.7″ and even 4.3″ are seen in our market now.  If you add in tablet PC’s that are being driven down in size there are even some 5″ Windows Mobile/CE devices too.

Screen resolution

Typically in the rugged market this has been QVGA for some time and the 320 x 240 has stood us in good stead for years.  However LCD manufacturers tell us that the VGA screen is now the most in demand and cheapest in our market which quadruples the area of pixels to 640 x 480.  However as some manufacturers rush to market with niche hole plugging devices we’re seeing all kinds of ratios now too.

Screen aspect ratios

WQVGA, WVGA, Stacked QVGA are all here but without some tweaking to your interface or manufacturer tools your software won’t easily port on or off them.Screen Brightness

PDA Screens come in many ratios these days

PDA Screens come in many ratios these days

Screen brightness

Motorola put heat into the brightness craze by publishing NIT ratings but most manufacturers are now following suit and providing, not only extremely bright screens, but vibrant coloured ones too that make for a definite improvement.  We think that a nice bright screen is a real bonus for field Rugged PDA’s and for people using them a lot the nicer screens do make a difference.  beware though as these also cost more to fix.

Screen Cost

So Rugged PDA LCD screens are no longer seen as a necessary evil, using the cheapest budget screens, but they are now seen as an area that can be improved and tailored making for a small USP in a market that is starting to get a little bit cluttered.  Costs are rising however and to give you an idea, we buy in LCD’s for older devices for around the $12 each.  This was because they all used the same or very similar products but now we’re seeing this rise to an average of $40 each, with some like Motorola not being available at all with custom-built digitizers.  That will usually set you back £300+.

The Rugged and Mobile blog.





New Baracoda Bluetooth Barcode Scanners

20 09 2011

The D-Fly2 and orKan - Baracoda’s Newest Bluetooth Barcode Scanners

Bluetooth barcode Scanners are all the rage at the moment and I wanted to update you on a couple of new products from Baracoda who offer one of the best rugged ranges of rugged Bluetooth barcode scanners in my humble opinion.  Baracoda barcode scanners are very rugged, very good and extremely nice to work with some innovative features across the range in their hardware and software solutions.  I wanted to just cover off a couple of updates that are of note:

Updated D-Fly – The Baracoda D-Fly2

OK, OK I know, The aptly named D-Fly2 isn’t rugged as it’s the budget baracoda barcode scanner.  But as an entry point its a very nice little device.  The image above actually doesn’t do the small size justice at all, it’s very small in comparison to the roadrunners or new OrKan above.

The case is identical but the update brings a welcomed ability to batch scan as well as live scan which will make the D-Fly2 a far more robust and useful solution.

The Baracoda OrKan

This is the first Baracoda barcode scanner to have an embedded display that will give you the benefit of immediate feedback when scanning.  It comes with 4 pre-loaded applications to help you get going with very typical scanning scenarios (1 of the applications for instance is a basic stock taking application) but you can also program your own applications which puts this device right inline with the basic Cipherlab CPT or Opticon OPL9700 devices.

It’s very rugged, has Intermec scanning technology for its barcode scanning engine and uses a nifty little Lithium Polymer battery that should give it class leading battery life.  The Class 1 BT connection will give you 100M+ range from you base station.

I’ve seen the device in person but I’ll try to give a better review when I get one for a longer time!

Batch scanners like this are great because they can extend the ability of aging Rugged PDA’s and they also fit very well with the growing band of merry Tablet PDA users.  They can also be an inexpensive option to use with smartphones if you want to test your solution for validity before spending on full rugged kit.  A decent batch scanner can also save you a lot of time, cost and headaches when it comes to simple stock taking applications where a rugged PDA could be a little bit overkill.

If you want to know more about Baracoda or how batch scanners in general could help you then just get in touch with us here.

The Rugged and Mobile blog.





Motorola ES400 – How to Power Down and Reset

14 09 2011

So to continue this series of blogs about resets and persistence we’re just going to take a look at the rugged PDA resets you can do with one of the most common Semi rugged PDA’s on the market right here.  If you want to see a lot more FAQ’s like this or even request one form us then just come and ask us here.  The Motorola ES400 is a great little semi rugged PDA and there are a few ways to reset the device, all with increasing severity.  We list them all here:

Powering Down Motorola ES400Hibernate (Unattended Mode)

To put the device to sleep, simply press the power button.  This puts the device into a very low state unattended mode that is very close to being totally off in terms of power usage.

Powering Down Motorola ES400Power Down

To turn off the ES400, simply press and hold the power button until you see the screen to the left.  Press the “Power Off” button on the screen when and the ES400 will be totally powered down as if the battery had been taken out.

Motorola ES400 Soft ResetSoft Reset

Press the power button and the  1 and 9 keys on the keypad and hold them all down at the same time.  The device will soft reset itself which deals with any glitches or application running issues you might have.  A soft rest doe snot not delete or reset any of the device’s settings or installed applications, think of it as rebooting your laptop.

You’ll know if the device is soft rebooting because the Motorola Boot screen will have “OS-Reboot!” in tiny words near the bottom of the screen.

Hard Reset

Motorola call this a Clean Boot and this is how you get your Rugged PDA back to factory, default settings.  Motorola have 2 ways of hard rebooting their devices:

Clean Boot with Application Wipe

1. Unzip the contents of the clean and wipe ZIP file, found here: https://docs.symbol.com/downloads/405Bw65xxDBA000001.zip, to the root folder of an SD card
2. Place the SD card in the device to be upgraded
3. Place the device to be upgrade an A/C power
4. Navigate to the SD Card and invoke the program STARTUPDLDR.EXE

OR

1. Unzip the contents of clean and wipe ZIP file to the ES400 \temp folder
2. Place the device to be upgrade an A/C power
3. Navigate to the \temp folder and invoke the program STARTUPDLDR.EXE

The update will take about 1 minute to complete.  Please do not remove the device from A/C power during this time.

Clean boot without application wipe

You use the exact same method as above but using a different set of files, found here: https://docs.symbol.com/downloads/405Bw65xxxCB000001.zip

If your Device is locked

lastly I wanted to add to this post what happens if the device is PIN locked or won’t go into Windows Mobile for some reason.  We get devices back from loans all the time here with all kinds of software on them that lock us out of the device.  This means you can’t get to the StartUPLDR file to initiate a clean.  Cheers to Thomas in the comments below for pointing this out to me!

What you need to do in this case you do is get the device into its boot mode.  You do this by performing a soft reset, but when you see the boot load screen you must quickly press the power button and camera button together.  It takes a few times sometimes to get the timing right.  This will then force the device to look for the SD card and it will clean it down to an out of box state.

The Rugged and Mobile blog.





Rugged PDA Persitent Storage Explained

13 09 2011
Rugged PDA Persistent Storage

Rugged PDA Persistent Storage

This series of blogs is looking at the how much more resilient a rugged PDA is than a smartphone when it comes to the OS and application persistence.  Yesterday we looked at hard resetting the PDA and today we’re taking a closer look at the persistent storage areas of a device.

What are persistent storage areas?

Persistent storage areas are an area in the devices ROM which is designed to be resilient to hard resets or wipes of most natures.  They are found in pretty much all rugged PDA’s and forms an essential element of a total rugged solution.  Its kind of like having a 2nd drive in your PC, but not quite.

Why do we have them?

You can store all kinds of essential fixes, updates, startup sequences and applications in these areas.  In fact you can install you applications into these areas too so that they can help you lock down and keep your devices running even after hard resets or attempts to wipe or stop the PDA from running.  This also means that you can hard reset your devices without having to re-install essentially applications which can save you £1000′s in lost time and IT effort.

An example of Rugged PDA persistent storage

A Courier application is a classic example of how the persistent storage area can be used.  These Rugged PDA’s are usually “Kiosked” (We’ll talk about that tomorrow) and this means that they run 1 or 2 applications that are essential to the parcel delivery effectiveness of the courier drivers and the business.  This means that, not only the main courier application will be installed into the persistent memory, but a startup file too which will instruct the device to install and only run the specific applications allowed, even after a hard reset.  This allows the IT of the company to perform updates and remedial work remotely on the device that might require a hard reset.  It also means the users can hard reset their devices without breaking them and it is very difficult to basically stop the devices doing what they are meant to be doing.  In  a nutshell, if you break the device, you can get them back running quite quickly.

Tweaking the storage area

Some Rugged PDA’s will even let you tweak the persistent storage area by letting you go into a kind of UDLR menu where you can reformat the area to clean it out but also change its size.  Pidion Rugged PDA’s for example will let you do this and change the storage area from its default 32MB size up to 128MB.  Beware though as you will be taking this directly from your ROM size.

Other ways to do it…

Using the SD Card

A lot of companies use the Storage card method in a similar manner, sometimes because their applications need the space.  A sat-nav app for instance often needs more memory than most rugged PDA’s have in their ROM.  You can use a storage card as persistent memory too, however you need to be aware that storage cards have a more limited life, can be removed from the device and data on them is probably not quite as secure as the main ROM and persistent areas of the devices themselves.

OS Image Re-Write

Again some rugged PDA manufacturers allow you to crack open their OS images to some degree and add applications to them.  This is how they add persistent applications like Skype or Soti to some OS images.  This is a sure-fire way to get your apps totally persistent but it requires skill and you can mess your OS image up totally this way.

The Rugged and Mobile blog.








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