Motorola MC2100 – First Look

28 02 2012
The Motorola MC2100 Series brings budget to the warehouse market

The Motorola MC2100 Series brings budget to the warehouse market

We seem to be talking “Cheap Rugged PDA” quite a bit right now and inline with this Motorola have just launched their MC2100 product in an effort to extend their range and bring another budget product to the line.

Not to be mixed up with the MC2000, that DHL are using at the moment, the MC2100 as you can see from the picture above sits in between the MC1000 and the MC3100.  It’s a semi batch scanner that you can spec up to a full small warehouse PDA but the main feature is that it is cheap.  The device comes in 2 formats, the MC2180 is the top spec with a touchscreen and access to the 2D imager technology, the MC2100 has a non-touch screen meaning the keyboard is the only way you can control the Rugged PDA.

What we rate

  • New imager scanner will be a success.
  • Motorola scanner tech is still the best in our opinion, but we’re not sure which tech is in this device yet.
  • The size is small and there is definitely a market for this type of device, the Pidion BIP-7000 has proven this.
  • Keyboard overlays can make warehouse work easier for users.

What we hate

  • Processor is a PXA320 but only runs at 624Mhz, I think under the skin this is an old CPU.
  • Be careful what you get with the lower spec MC2100, you could miss something you later need like Bluetooth.
  • If cheap is what you want, then there are better alternatives to the MC2100, certainly better for less money with better support.
  • Windows CE 6.0 only.  No Windows Mobile.

We’re actually working with this device right now on a fairly complex project requiring all kinds of serial communication and a decent CPU and whilst the device is fairing OK, we are finding limits with it so it definitely has a niche but will quickly find its limits if stretched.

All in all though the bell curves are fattening and the MC2100 does have a niche in my view so it will be interesting to see what kinds of user downgrade from their more expensive kit and what kind of user this device will eventually be most comfortable with.  Definitely watch this space!

The Rugged and Mobile blog.

Korean Rugged PDA Manufacturers – An Overview

27 02 2012
Korean Rugged PDA's and Printers might possible be one of the industry's best kept secrets!

Korean Rugged PDA’s and Printers might possible be one of the industry’s best kept secrets!

South Korea is probably one of the most mis-understood countries when it comes to understanding the products and quality of product the country makes.  It still conjures up images of tatty, copied cheap chinese products with very little in the way of service for many people but I think things have changed, especially when it comes to Rugged PDA’s!

Just look at todays brands coming out of South Korea right now.  Samsung is now the largest  electronics manufacturer in the world, LG is not far behind. Hyundai and especially Kia are not only growing rapidly but are profitable and innovate brands stealing a lot of market share globally right now.  A plethora of other electronics companies including iRiver and hanjin do almost everything are to mention but a few!

Not all Korean Rugged PDA manufacturers are great in our view, (trust me we’ve worked with them all) but the 3 that are making a big difference right now are Pidion, Dotel and Woosim and I wanted to just blog about these companies to put them into perspective.


These guys are the largest rugged PDA manufacturer in Korea with a long history littered with innovation, awards and firsts.  The Pidion BIP-6000 was the first Rugged PDA with RFID built-in and continues to sell strongly being the first Android rugged PDA this year too.  They are a large company, bigger than most US brands and they have a superb extensive range of Rugged PDA’s and a lot of history and expertise behind them.

Mature, Feature Packed and reasonably priced the PIiodon Range is worth a look.

Mature, Feature Packed and reasonably priced the PIiodon Range is worth a look.


For a long time Dotel produced parts for all of the Korean brands including Samsung but these days they also want a piece of the action in the rugged PDA market.  Dotel have a small but growing range of products that have in the past been OEM’d into other kit but now stand as their own brand.  The Dotel H300 especially is a fantastic Rugged Handheld offering what feel is the best option in the lightweight Rugged PDA category right now.


Demand for receipt printers is growing and Woosim are kind of like the Pidion/Dotel of the printing world for us.  Strong products with a big product list, they pretty much cut your printing solution pricing in half.

All 3 brands above are repaired, serviced and generally loved and cared for right here in Liverpool, UK so you know where to come to get them fixed and you know that your solution will be looked after and focussed on.

What we find different in these brands is that they listen to us, they change and flex their services and try to deal with our requests better.  In my view they are now starting to offer far less risk whilst reducing cost than the “prestige brands” are.

The world is a funny place, always has been and always will be.  Who would have thought just 40 years ago that the greatest golfer would be black and the greatest rapper would be white, well you know the best Rugged PDA’s just could be coming from Korea these days too.

The Rugged and Mobile blog.

Cheap Rugged PDA’s – Our Best Picks

24 02 2012

So to round off our series talking about Cheap Rugged PDA’s I thought i’s actually give you some pointers as to what’s out there and what can be viable option for you if you need to save money on your hardware.  Remember all of these rugged handhelds have been thoroughly tested by us, are serviced and repaired by us, in fact they’re cared more by us than our own family (or have I just been spending too much time with these things!!).

Lightweight Rugged PDA

Dotel H300

This is the most popular class for us and contains prestige brand devices such as the Motorola MC65, Intermec CN50, Psion EP10.  Our best picks here are:

Dotel H300, this is a superb slim Li-Polymer batteried device that just works.  It’s easy and cheap to repair, uses nice rugged plastics has great ergonomics and has a bang up to date spec.  It also has the option of being upgradable after you buy so you don;lt have to make expensive decisions about the bar code scanner just yet.  This is the cheapest device you will find at this price, in fact so cheap people buying Semi Rugged are considering this and the price includes all your leads and a cradle.

Pidion BIP-5000, Slightly aging device but regardless of a replacement in the pipeline now, this device will still be around for a couple of years yet.  It has a great base spec, has a slightly quirky keyboard and just lacks fast 3G but everything else is more than adequate.  Mature and it makes for a great buy, but we’d go for the Dotel right now being frank about it.

Heavy Rugged PDA

The Pidion BIP-6000 is the best value for money in the middle weight Rugged PDA class.  Highly specced, very tough with the best battery we have tested. - Main ImageThis category is where the MC75A sits along with the Intermec CN70, Psion Ikon etc.  There is one device here that really beats the opposition up, the Pidion BIP-6000.  This is a mature, well specced device that has been around for years in some guise or another.  A good sign with Rugged PDA’s is if the design has been consistent with multiple upgrades to keep it current and the BIP-6000 is just that.  It was the first RUgged PDA to have built-in RFID and is the best RFID reader/write you will find and it is also the first to have an Android option.  In fact many people considering MC65′s buy these because the BIP-6000 is cheaper and far better than it’s rivals in our opinion.  This device is a real steal.

Established quality manufacturer, the Dolphin 6000 is no exception. Fully featured small rugged PDA with the lowest price point in its category.  - Main ImageSmall Rugged PDA

These sport 2.8″ LCD’s, are small but still contain bar code scanners.  Intermec CS40, Opticon H21 are noth here.  This is where we think GaneData have it right.  The GX8010 is a super low-budget device with a very basic spec but the GX8900 GSMART is superb, fully featured and all in a great small package.  Honeywell recently released the Dolphin 6000 so the bigger bands are trying to geta piece of the action now and to be honest we’d choose a Dolphin 6000 over a CS40 any day and they’re half the price!

The Pidion BM170 with FREE Commercial Vehicle Charger. High spec, low price and probably the most attractive semi rugged PDA on the market. - Main ImageSemi-Rugged

Although the Pidion BM170 isn’t any cheaper than the ES400 it still represents a far cheapr option in the medium to long term.  ES400′s are like a rash, everyone sells them, they are being sold at too low margins and as such it’s all falling apart when it comes to help and support.  THe BM170 has a roadmap, guarantees parts regardless of which service plan you have and it will also cost you half for any repair and it’ll be fixed quicker too.  THe BM170 is a proper rugged PDA that’s semi rugged, whereas the ES400 is a durable smart phone.

The Dotel H300 also features here.  You can have an ES400 specced device which gives you a superb fully rugged Device for only little bit more.

Mobile Printers

The classic 3″ Fully rugged mobile printer will set you back over £600 if you buy Zebra, a little less for a Datamax but at least you get a better printer.  However if money is tight then Woosim’s WSP range offer 2,3,4″ fully rugged printers with IP54 at a fraction of the price, in fact half the price.  Parts are string, repairs are far cheaper and quicker and if you want something even cheaper, then go for their semi rugged range instead.

All of the above products are ones that won’t let you down and that are designed to be quickly supported and repaired when needed.  The products themselves are also more than comparable with good quality parts and great functionality.  If we were talking cars then these devices would the Fords of the market not the cheap Chinese copies so next time you;rei n the market for something come talk to us and take a good look at some of the alternative kit you can buy.

Woosim Mobile Printers Come in All Shapes and Sizes

Woosim Mobile Printers Come in All Shapes and Sizes

The Rugged and Mobile blog.

Cheap Rugged PDA’s with Great Repair Services

23 02 2012
Rugged PDA Repair

Cheaper Rugged PDA Repair services are a lot better these days than you think.

Continuing this weeks theme of looking into why Cheaper Rugged PDA’s aren’t actually a bad deal or a risk these days, I’ve been tasked with talking about the repair and service element.  This has been a classic area that has let down the non “Prestige Brand” Rugged PDA’s, especially from Korea, USA and China but this is no longer any issue any more.

What I’m going to do is share our experience of selling a prestige brand against 1 or 2 of the cheaper brands and lay out the facts for you to decide and I’ll do this by looking at a few typical scenarios that you will experience after buying a Rugged Handheld.  We’ll take the leading brand (leading brands are always there to be shot down in my view!) and 2 of the cheaper brands we sell very successfully here, Pidion and Dotel.

Comparing Warranty Services

Warranty level services cover a few eventualities.  All Rugged PDA’s come with at least 12 months warranty but it doesn;t cover you for much other than defects of the device.  If the device stops working and its a defect of say the touch screen then it will be covered under warranty.  Warranty repairs also covers devices that are out of warranty and require an ad hoc repair and a device that is in warranty but requires a repair that is not covered by the warranty itself, IE a cracked screen.  In every case you get treated the same.

Here’s a table showing ACTUAL average days turn around, average price for a cracked screen and reporting and communication level you get with some devices.

Turn Around LCD Cost Report Communication Parts G’tee
Motorola ES400 13 days £355 No Email, 3-4 day turnaround 0
Intermec CK3 10 days            £400+  On request Better, 1-2 day email 0
Motorola, MC55/65 12 days £365 No Email, 3-4 day turnaround 0
Pidion BM170 4 days £180 Full Direct, same day, possibly live 3 years
Pidion BIP-5000 4 days £190 Full Direct, same day, possibly live 5 Years
Dotel H300 4 days £170 Full Direct, same day, possibly live 3 Years

The parts G’tee is how many years parts for repairs will be g’teed for once the device goes end of life without a service contract.  Lastly I would mention that Motorola’s ES400 is by far the most troublesome PDA we sell with way more returns than anything else we sell.  Maybe it’s because its being mis-sold generally as a Rugged PDA or maybe it’s just poor but facts are facts.

Comparing Comprehensive Services

Comprehensive Services are the service packs you can buy to add accidental, wear and tear and better SLA’s to your service.  Again a table below with the same devices shows our experience of various brands comparable service plans to Service from the start Bronze.

Turn Around Report Communication Parts G’tee
Motorola ES400 5-7 days No Email, 3-4 day turnaround 5
Intermec CK3 5-7 days  On request Better, 1-2 day email 5
Motorola, MC55/65 5-7 days No Email, 3-4 day turnaround 5
Pidion BM170 1-3 days Full Direct, same day, live chat and telephone 5 years
Pidion BIP-5000 1-3 days Full Direct, same day, live chat and telephone 5 Years
Dotel H300 1-3 days Full Direct, same day, live chat and telephone 5 years

In this case we count the turn around time as the full-time it takes to send and get your device back.  In the case of Premium brands with central repair centres you have to either send to a different country or there is a step point to send to which adds time on to delivery.  PidionCare and Dotel response services even have repairs sent out same day in some cases and can offer a range of services for sending back such as pre-noon or pre- 9am.

Not as some would have you believe hey?

Other points

There are a lots of other points too, such as if an SLA is missed by Motorola or Intermec, Psion or anyone else for that matter it’s tough.  Read the small print, you get nothing.  With our Pidion and Dotel service and others we deliver, you get a penalty refund of some nature appropriate to the issue at hand.

Also some issues can be more complex than others.  With us you talk to your account manager and can talk technical directly with us.  Try that with the larger brands and see where you get!!


I think the days of the big cost cutting central/eastern european service centres are over.  The market we live in now requires more intimacy, more innovation and better access to a passion and expertise about kit that’s sold.  I think resellers should be held responsible for what they sell more and more and more customers are realising this.  Next time you buy a Rugged PDA, think about the service you will actually get opposed to what’s written on a spec sheet.

The Rugged and Mobile blog.

Rugged PDA Showdown – Motorola ES400 V Dotel H300

22 02 2012
At first glance the Dotel H300 (middle) has more in common with the MC65 (Right) than the ES400 (left)

At first glance the Dotel H300 (middle) has more in common with the MC65 (Right) than the ES400 (left)

Today’s Rugged PDA Showdown is all about finding a Motorola ES400 Alternative and in theme with our “Inexpensive Rugged PDA” series that’s ongoing this week.  The whole idea of this article is to shake things up a little bit and wake people up who are buying Semi-rugged when they could get a fully rugged PDA for almost the same money!

In the red corner we have Motorola’s ES400 which is a £420 device here at Rugged and Mobile, yes I know you can get it cheaper elsewhere but we actually pick the phone up when you call for help afterwards, we repair them too and our ES400 customers get access to Rugged Rescue, so well worth little bit extra!!!

In the blue corner, aiming for the title of Motorola ES400 alternative is the new lightweight Rugged PDA from Dotel, the Dotel H300.  We can sell this in equivalent spec to the ES400 for £530 or less if you opt for an Edge Chip instead of the HSUPA one and when you add up all the accessories in the box too it makes the Dotel a genuine Motorola ES400 alternative device.

From the side, the H300 is slimmer.

From the side, the H300 is slimmer.

 What to watch for

Well clearly here we have a size mis-match and the H300 is far more at home up against the ES400′s bigger brother device, the MC65 (Shown in the photo) but the H300 is actually slimmer than the ES400 which makes it a real pleasure to use and hold.  In the hand it’s a whole different story.

With size comes bigger battery, a bigger LCD and the keyboard on the H300 is sublime, rivalled only by the CN50 it seems to be modelled on and there is a Qwerty keypad option too.  In comparison the ES400 seems too deep for its size, the 3″ LCD is very small and the keyboard is fiddly at best.

Both devices benchmark very closely with the H300 edging it slightly but the average user won’t even notice, they’re evenly equipped with the ES400 using slightly cheaper components in our view.

The Dotel Rugged PDA will grow with you though which is a major.  We can fit Barcode scanners, RFID and other items after the sale so you can see how your solution goes and not have to throw the Dotel H300′s away when you start using barcodes or RFID.

The H300 is rugged, with IP54, a proper drop spec, recessed screen and tough plastics.  The ES400 is “durable” but barely so.  IP42 is meaningless to be honest and Moto even took that off their spec sheet after complaints and according to our helpdesk figures the ES400 is also our No2 problem PDA (behind the Pidion BM170) with more repairs per 100 sold than anything else we sell.

The H300 has a hand strap, is more usable by rugged staff.  The stylus can be specced with the “puck” or a full stylus.

The ES400 does have a Motorola Smartphone-ness about it though and I mean this in a good way.  The Skin isn’t for everyone but I personally find it a nice way to navigate around the WM6.5 OS.  It’s also well put together in terms of the firmware, it has clearly got users in mind however if you want to stick an app on the phone and nothing else it becomes a problem.

The Dotel H300 and ES400 feel very similiar in the hand
The Dotel H300 and ES400 feel very similar in the hand

The H300 also has Li-Pol batteries.  This is the tech that you see in Apple’s products and its the very latest in battery technology.  Despite the smaller 2400mAh size, they last for hours longer than the equivalent Li-ION ones.  Having said that the ES400 in extended battery guise does not get too shabby performance out of its 3080mAh battery either.

Price – The whole story

£530 Vs £420 I hear you say isn’t actually that great, but it’s only half the story.  Firstly the repair service is far cheaper, see below for more on this.  Secondly the devices include the following in the box:

  • Dotel H300 - Rugged Cradle with battery extra charger, Handstrap, stylus, tether, USB Lead, PSU, Screen protector, 2x Li-Pol batteries.
  • Motorola ES400 – USB Lead, PSU, Stylus, Tether, Battery.

Making the Dotel H300  far great value for money.

You can also spec the H300 right down.  Replacing HSUPA with Edge drops the price by £40, you can take out the WLan, BT, GPS, pretty much anything!


You can pay £150 for 3 years Service from the start with the ES400, or £180 for the Dotel H300 and both will give you roughly the same service, in fact you get a better product and better service with the H300.  However opt for the standard free warranty and you’ll get your H300 back, repaired in 1/3rd of the time and for half the cost.  Just 1 repair in 3 years will put the Dotel H300 ahead on price.


It’s a tough fight at first glance.  At first all you see is the lighter, cheaper ES400 jabbing away at the Dotel H300 and winning on points!  However stand back, take a Line of business view on this and you find that there is a true rugged equivalent that could be bang on right for your solution. I think the Dotel H300 wins this with a knockout punch in later rounds!

Ask any questions you want tomorrow we’ll put the H300 back into its comfort zone, beating up MC65′s and CN50′s!

The Rugged and Mobile blog.

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