A big Thank-you from the blog @ Rugged and Mobile!

31 10 2011

We just wanted to use today to say thank-you very much to all our subscribers and all the people who read and send in comments to us.  We’re very proud to announce we have now hit a regular 15,000 visitors a month and we’re still growing strongly.

We love our customers, we love problems and fixing them and we will always stand by our ethics and transparent way of doing things.  Our passion and committment to deliver to customers comes from an inherent understanding that without our blog readers and customers we would be nothing and the world would be a worse place too!

With you, we’re fast becoming the largest readership in the Rugged PDA market and we will continue to give back to you in as many ways we can.

Keep the comments and requests coming in, keep the dialogue alive and watch out for some great new stuff we’re doing very very soon.


The Rugged and Mobile blog.

Rugged PDA Roadmap – The Reality

27 10 2011
Check to see how Manufacturers have handled Rugged PDA roadmaps in the past

Check to see how Manufacturers have handled Rugged PDA roadmaps in the past

I had a very interesting meeting yesterday with a potential client where Rugged PDA device Road map was at the heart of the discussion.  For those who don;t know a “Road Map” is something that a manufacturer uses to demonstrate the life of a device to customers so that they can judge when it will go end of life, when support will end and what will replace the current model and when.  You see roadmaps for everything from Windows Operating systems, software and hardware and its one of the key risk and cost reducing elements that a rugged or semi-rugged PDA will have over a smartphone.

I think there’s more to roadmaps than meet the eye and I wanted to highlight some other areas you need to ask resellers and manufacturers when talking about Rugged PDA roadmaps.

1. What has happened before

It might sound obvious but no-one ever asks this. Don’t just look at the future as this is often “Perfect case” or even drivel because quite often we simply do not know yet.  Instead ask about what has happened in the past with a device, check other devices and you will get a picture of how the manufacturer actually deals with road maps.

We have manufacturers where parts are still available 7 years after EOL, we have some that promise everything but never deliver.

An example of this is how Motorola abruptly removed the MC35 from sale with 2 weeks notice and that’s only because we pushed.  The ES400 only appeared 12 months later to replace the device a lot of people stranded.  Contrast this with the 12 month overlap and careful consideration Pidion took to replace the BM150R semi rugged PDA with the BM170.  The result of this is that there are 4 hardware platforms and 4 OS’s that all came out of this 12 month period to ensure customers are looked after really well.

2.  Alternative device contingency

The fact is the world we live in today is forcing development times down and this means manufacturers are forced to bring out new kit quicker than ever before or risk looking like they’re aren’t keeping up.  This is fine but check to see if new devices are going to replace or run along side existing devices and also check to see if they will run OK with your platform.  We also check to see how easily other devices from the manufacturer will run with your existing ones.  Some manufacturers have a completely identical platform on across devices which makes them a dream to run side by side, others have different platforms that will increase risk.

3. Parts fabrication

If you have a decent sized project then we can extended your parts availability with manufacturers.  It’s no secret that anyone can go to China these days and get anything fabricated and we do all the time here.  As long as the parts aren’t patented and the quality is fine then it can take away all the argument over parts availability.  Cases, digitizers, buttons can all be fabricated easily these days and can completely take away your risks of parts going end of line as well as extending your devices life in general.

4. Support statements

Make sure you understand and see the documents where manufacturers commit to supporting the devices both in terms of parts and in terms of general support.

5.  Non service based support

You also need to make sure you know for what type of customers support statements are for.  Motorola and Intermec for instance will only guarantee parts for their full service purchasing customers, others like Pidion commit to all customers.

6. New device approval

Last but not least, your device will eventually be superseded by a new one and its often the case this will happen during your 3 or 5 year cycle.  However just make sure you give yourself plenty of time to understand the replacement model, get your hands on one and test.  Any reseller worth their salt will work with you like this and will always make sure your platform is kept running.

The fact is that some manufacturers just want to make money and profit, but there are still some who want to passionately deliver, making money a secondary goal.

The Rugged and Mobile blog.

Motorola ET1 Announced

24 10 2011
Introducing the Motorola ET1

Introducing the Motorola ET1

The battle continues in the Rugged market but as bell curve flattens for our market just like everyone elses, we’re seeing more and more fringe devices that stretch the choices customers can (or should that be “have to”) make.  Rugged Tablet PC’s are one such class of rugged device that are stretching things upwards in size and we think this is going to be a critical area of our market as we see a whole new class of customer emerging who were previously just capturing data, now wanting to also pump data back down to the same mobile devices.  This means larger screens, better battery power which brings us to the tablet!

A first look at the Motorola ET1

Well its unique with a 7″ LCD and in our view it’s just what’s being asked for right now.  It’s rugged with IP54 & a 1.2M drop spec and the gorilla glass will help with scratches on the screen too.  You immediately notice it’s lightness actually when compared to most other Rugged Tablets out there.  The operating and storage temps are low though so it maybe exposes its roots a little bit here in the mobile market rather than rugged one.

It’s runs Android only using 2.3 (gingerbread) so no Honeycomb here which means for us it’s more positioned as a large screened Rugged PDA rather than a small tablet?

Small Tablet or Large PDA?

Small Tablet or Large PDA?

It’s also locked down a fair bit and IT managers will be pleased to see no Android marketplace is available meaning this device is firmly for use as a business tool, not the latest user play thing!

The last thing to mention is there are 2 cameras.  The front facing one is a low spec affair, whereas the rearwards one is an 8MP camera which can also scan barcodes.  Now, I may have been in this business longer than I should have but I aint seen any camera that can scan barcodes accurately and efficiently just yet. Having said that Motorola’s camera based scanning tech is probably the best you’ll see on Windows Mobile phones so I am sure for occasional scanning this will be adequate.

What we rate

  • Right sized LCD, this is exactly what some customers are looking for.
  • Large 4640 mAh user replaceable battery.
  • Light for what you get.
  • Lots of accessories
  • Moto’s full SFTS service products available.
  • Outer LCD case is customisable.

What we hate

  • No WAN option, although we have been told that a version is coming with this on it, how long is anyones guess though.
  • Capacitive screen will mean expensive repairs and it restricts the solutions it can be used for.
  • Only Android v2.3.4 (No v3.0) and no Windows Mobile will mean it’s not for everyone.
  • Price is a little bit high in our view.


Early reports put the ET1 at about £1100 whcih isn’t cheap but for larger orders we hearing around the £650-700.

What we think

The ET1 is basic and in one way seen as a small little test step into this market by Motorola.  However it does have a lot right.  Its light and yet fully rugged.  It has a good screen and battery and I think could be a hit in the right hands, especially where a bespoke application and .

Does it have too many Achilles heels though?  No WAN, Capacitive screen and no Windows Mobile will hamper it in my view and I have to be honest here and say there are better more exciting devices coming on to the market very soon which means this will not be unique for very long at all.

We’ll review the device as soon as we get on in here so watch this space.

The Rugged and Mobile blog.

Why the Motorola MC65 Rugged PDA is the most rugged

20 10 2011
MC55A0 and MC65 (Middle) - Rugged but what makes them special?

MC55A0 and MC65 (Middle) – Rugged but what makes them special when it comes to Ruggedness?

Everyone here believes that the market leaders should get a hard time so that’s why we’re constantly pushing the envelope with lots of different manufacturers, however credit where credit is due we think there are a few highlights to Motorola’s MC65 and MC55A0 that should be mentioned when it comes to ruggedness.

It’s funny how when you talk to Intermec (the UK’s number 2 rugged PDA manufacturer), they won’t even consider the MC65/MC55A0 when you talk about ruggedness to them and most other manufactruers are still talking solely on an IP and Drop spec level.  however Motorola will also tell you that their kit is more rugged than anything in its class too, so who to believe!

The Most Rugged Design in its class, Full Stop

Lets get the boring stuff out of the way first:

  • IP64 = Dust tight and water-resistant for most cases.  This is certainly rugged enough when it comes to this class of device.
  • Dropped 1000 times from 1.8M across operating temperature range.  This is the “Drop Test” and it’s up there with the best MIL certified and actually puts a lot of the “dropped 6 times on each face” type tests to shame
  • Tumble tested2000 times.

    Magnesium Frame with rubber mounts

    Magnesium Frame with rubber mounts

MC65 Monocoque case is unique

MC65 Monocoque case is unique

Now the stuff you might not have thought about:

  • Monocoque Unibody Case has fewer gaps, less stress points and is pretty unique when it comes to something that really helps with protecting the device.  It makes servicing them a pain though!
  • Fully Rugged Connector.  I know connecting cups are expensive and sometimes quirky, but they are also properly rugged for many reasons.  They will not break the device if dropped whilst connected, there are just 5 copper dots on the casing so there’s nothing to fiddle with, stick screwdrivers in to or rust/break and they give a good connection that lasts the life of the device.  USB and Micro USB a definite no-no here as they just snap on the main board.
  • Magnesium Inner frame is rigid and flexes to protect main components from shock, the LCD is mounted on top of a rubber flexi seal and the main board is also mounted on nice little rubber shock absorbing mounts.
  • Space between touchscreen and LCD prevents damage to both components.  OK this isn’t unique by any means but it does mean if you crack a screen, you might only need a new digitizer rather than whole LCD affair.
  • Antimicrobial casing options for harsh Lab/Hospital environments, just finish this model off as something that can also be rugged in some extreme environments.

We normally knock the MC65 and MC55A0’s here simply because we like to see the market leaders lead, but I think when it comes to ruggedness these ever-popular rugged handhelds definitely have some unique points to think about.

The Rugged and Mobile blog.

Free Semi Rugged PDA Accessories

19 10 2011
Free Commercial class Vehicle Charger for BM170 and ES400

Free Commercial class Vehicle Charger for BM170 and ES400

We’re still waiting on benchmark tests for our current small rugged PDA group test so in the meantime I wanted to just plug an offer we have here giving away a free commercial class vehicle charger on some of our semi rugged PDA’s.  Sorry for the lousy photo, I can’t seem to find our product camera at all this morning so it’s iPhone to the rescue!!

At the moment we’re bundling a free commercial class vehicle charger with both the Semi-Rugged Pidion BM170 and Motorola ES400 devices, saving your over £30.  The charger is our own brand so you know it’s a safe and a quality product, it’s a 2A charger capable of being used in 12V or 24V situations and with auto cut-off and all the electronics needed to keep your Semi Rugged Handheld charged but not over charged!

Our charger also uses a straight, non-coiled rugged cable so they’re easy to use anywhere in the car and have a really nice 3.5mm thick rugged outer casing.  We can adapt these chargers to be used with a growing list of devices so come and talk to us here if you have a vehicle charge other than the ES400 and BM170 as we can certainly help. We currently support the whole Pidion Rugged PDA range, M3M devices, and anything requiring a Mini or Micro USB charger.

You have to read the blog to qualify so just make sure you ask about them and give us the title of this blog to  ensure you get your’s free, for past customers we’re also offering them for a real bargain, otherwise they range from £12 each depending on the connectors used.

The Rugged and Mobile blog.

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