Rugged PDA Repair Services – What do users really want?

30 07 2012
The RAM Wheel is here! - Rugged PDA Repair done the way it should be!

The RAM Wheel is here! – Rugged PDA Repair done the way it should be!

Things often don’t happen as per the plan and rugged Handheld purchases are often late, it’s just the nature of them.  We address this by being open, honest and transparent about lead times and addressing contingencies early for them.  However Rugged PDA Repairs or service needs should be different but rarely are.  If I had a £1 for instance for every time someone told me about when they couldn’t get help or couldn’t just talk to someone about their PDA then I would certainly have had a lot more money in my back pocket than I do now!

How do you get round this?  Well we spoke to all our customers recently about service and these are the top 5 repair services they wanted to see.

1. Speed

Warranty or not, 4 weeks 6 weeks or even 9 weeks (Yes you know who we’re talking about Motorola and Psion!) is beyond poor.  “It’s insulting” and these are the words of our and your customers not us.  We can’t understand why people who make the kit and take good margins for it can’t repair it in under 5 days.  We do every day here and if you want your warranty only kit back in under 5 days you should have it back.

2. Communication

OK, so we have to look after our fully comprehensive service customers first.  These guys have pre-paid for service levels so we simply can’t run out of spares for them and this means that sometimes warranty only people have to wait.  It’s rare, but it happens.  So what do you need to do in this circumstance?  Well most manufacturer lead support would have you think that it’s fine to go silent on you for 3 weeks and then just deliver the goods back to you.  I think that’s wrong.  I think that customers Rugged PDA’s should be treated like their children that have gone on a school trip.  You have a right to know what they’re doing, where they are , what problems there are and when they’re likely to be coming back!!  They need to be able to pull information at any time, so a decent info page about their case should be available 24/7.  I also think an alert when anything is added or asked for should send out an email to them so they know exactly where they stand at all times.

3. Location

OK, Motorola and other manufacturers have a UK base so that delivery costs are negotiated but this adds a lot of time onto the sending and return of your device.  Pidion don’t even have this so you have to send your kit back to germany yourself which costs the best part of £30 for a 1-2 day service (Unless you bought your kit from us that is!!).  Having 1 service centre for the whole of Europe and Africa was simply seen as an attempt to cut costs for the supplier doing nothing to help customers directly. People want to send their kit to a UK address they can drop in to, talk to and that they know is working GMT hours just like them.  Not to mention a place which is keeping British people in jobs and not lining the pockets of a few.

4. Expertise

Closely connected to the UK based repair centre issue was the need for UK people with account management that customers can talk to.  Scratch beneath the surface of this and you see that direct contact with engineers was accepted as potentially unviable, but only as long as good access to good expertise with account managers who have a grasp of the repair process and have technical ability was a popular comment made.  Expertise and knowledge and giving it freely was seen as a measure of competence and was often a measure of the customers confidence too.

5. Transparency

Knowing what to expect, what the standard/popular charges are and also how the whole process of repairs works is paramount to happy customers.  Why should you sit there and wait, like good little customers!!?  You shouldn’t, you should be the first ones to know how it all works, the process should be transparent and consistent and everything explained to you up front.

What do we think at RAM?  If in doubt, default to the customer.  That’s what we think.  If you have a problem or need to ask questions, then raise them, if you made a mistake be honest and then fix it.  It also means if the customer is being unreasonable then you tell them but let me tell me you this.  Once you start focussing on your product and service and cut out the cr*p form both sides, things get better……For everyone!

The Rugged and Mobile blog.





Motorola ES400 Repair Services

27 07 2012
Motorola ES400 Repair Service that Care!

Motorola ES400 Repair Service that Care!

Rugged PDA Repair is a real conundrum these days but we thought we’d let customers know that we now repair Motorola ES400′s here with genuine parts.  We can’t touch under warranty items but once out of warranty we’re here, we’re fast, efficient and offer great value.

We can only talk for ourselves and the resellers we talk to but the Motorola ES400 is certainly our most poorly performing PDA here with over 25% per annum being recalled or repaired in some way and you can add to this if you could all the software and OS related calls we get.  However the device is still very popular and as such there’s a lot of people out there needing ES400 Repairs and general help.

Rugged and Mobile already repair the brands to full warranty and comprehensive service levels so why not add the ES400 to this list?  Our customers (and a lot of others) are using our services now where they know they’ll get ad hoc out of warranty repairs for reasonable prices, returned fast but most importantly where they’ll be treated like we want to hear from them.  With our full repair service centre portal…RAMHub we’re able to offer superb service and communication to anyone that needs it.

We’re re-launching RAM Support in the next 7 days and I’ll send out links as we get everything live!  This will be a place where the focus is firmly on customers who need help.

The Rugged and Mobile blog.





Beginners guide to Rugged Android Operating Systems

25 07 2012
Android Versions Unravelled, not so simple...

Android Versions Unravelled, not so simple…

With so many rugged Android devices hitting the market now we thought we’d do a quick beginners guide to Android as we see it on Rugged PDA’s and Rugged Tablets.  Android Operating Systems are split into 2 main types.  One aimed at Smartphones and 1 aimed at Tablets and they’re subtly different.

Android History

Lets not forget just how young Android still is.    It was only unveiled as an OS in 2007 and the first device sporting the Android OS was launched in September 2008 so it’s still a baby compared to most mobile operating systems out there.  based on LINUX and with an open source development stance it has however become the fastest growing and now the most widely used operating in the smart phone market, even overtaking Apple IOS in late 2010.

In the rugged market things are very different though.  Whilst there are quite a fair few Rugged Android PDA’s and Rugged Tablets now available, only a few sport the true “Rugged” badge in our view and the market remains solidly Microsoft for now at least!

Android on Smartphone

I’ll explain this by releases and dates.

  • Version 1.0 – Sept 2008
  • Version 1.1 – Feb 2009
  • Version 1.5 – Apr 2009 (Cupcake)
  • Version 1.6 – Sept 2009 (Donut)
  • Version 2.0 – Oct 2009 (Eclair)
  • Version 2.1 – Jan 2010 (Also Eclair)
  • Version 2.2 – May 2010 (Froyo)
  • Version 2.3 – Dec 2010 (Gingerbread)
  • Version 2.4 - Summer 2012  (Ice Cream Sandwich (Runs on PDA’s and Tablets))

Android on Tablets

  • Version 3.0 – Oct 2011 (Honeycomb)
  • version 4.0 – Oct 2011 (Ice Cream Sandwich)
  • Version 4.1 – Jul 2012 (Jelly Bean)

The Most used and current versions

Current Android Distirbution

Current Android Distirbution

The problem with Android is the fact that it has been developed very quickly and the versions just keep coming out.  So, if you  look at the table above that we took from the Android developer network itself you’ll see an alarming trend towards using the latest versions of the OS.  Anything coming out now will have either 2.2 or 2.3.x if it’s a rugged android PDA or v 4.0 if it’s a rugged tablet.  We practically don’t see any other versions now.

The Issue With Android Support

Because Android is open-source, it really means you don’t get any support unless it’s through the open-source community and if you look at the image above then you’ll see instantly the versions that won’t be getting too much attention any longer!  Now in the rugged market we’re trying to get manufacturers to support the OS with mixed  returns on expertise but even if we do succeed, we end up stuck with an out of date OS that goes end of life in the Android community within months!  Pidion have already updated the OS version on their kit which has caused delays and real pain for customers so even the best laid plans go ka-ka.

So it’s left to you, or us to sort out!!  We’ll talk about this in the next article.

The Rugged and Mobile blog.





Pidion HM40 Small Rugged PDA – A First Look

23 07 2012
Pidion introduce the Pidion HM40

Pidion introduce the Pidion HM40

We blogged about the Pidion HM40 some time ago but since receiving our demo pre-release device a few weeks ago now we’ve had a good chance to not only talk about the HM40 but the market and category of rugged PDA’s it sits within.

Small Rugged PDA

To be honest we’ve always been slightly flummoxed by the Small Rugged PDA category and if you talk about them to distributors and fellow competitors you always find the customer doesn’t quite get them either and sales figures show this!  To be in this category, you need to have a small screen, 2.8″ seems to be the order of the day.  Full built-in barcode scanners are mandatory and as the name suggests, these are full rugged PDA’s but…well smaller really!  With this in mind lets take a first look at the little rugged PDA and see where we feel it will fit in.

HM40 Spec

Firstly the spec is pretty good, in fact it’ll be the best you can get in the rugged market when it’s released with a 1GHz Samsung CPU, which we’re told is going to be the new mainstay platform for Pidion as they release devices this and next year.  Now add a 256MB RAM, 512MB ROM, QVGA screen, choice of scanners and keyboards and it’s not going to really light any fires but we do think this device has a few tricks up it’s sleeve that just might wake this category up a little bit!

Pidion HM40 Competition

Pidion HM40 Competition

Main rivals

The Opticon H21 is where this category has always happened.  For some reason Opticon have always enjoyed the small end of the market down here with their H19 and H21 devices.  Intermec have had a go with their CS40 device but the problem with both of these are that they ‘re way too expensive and in my view too highly specced for this end of the market.

Why HM40 and not Cs40 or H21?

So what is it that makes the HM40 different?  Well firstly we think the spec is about right for this device, scrimping and saving where it needs to like in the QVGA screen (There will be a VGA option after launch) and from first discussions about the price we know it’ll make the device by far the cheapest in this category.  In fact Pidion are most worried about the price and how their semi-rugged BM170 will cope with it so this is a clear indication that the price is able to get very low.

Android

All new Pidion devices will have Android as an option on them so this will also give a clear USP to the growing band of end users looking to pursue Android for their mobile platform.  Now I don;t know of another small rugged PDA with a numeric or Qwerty keyboard option in the market just yet so this will definitely be a key USP for the HM40.

Configurability

The device will be sold in various configurations.  Now again after talking top Pidion about this it’s not yet 100% clear however there will be more options than available ow with current competition so we’re hoping to see a barcode scannerless option, WAN-less options and the configs will grow as the device beds in.

Price

Now don’t let anyone else fool you.  There is still no official price on the Pidion HM40, we still don’t have the official accessory list and the “in the box” kit is still unclear as we go to press today.  However what we do know is that the HM40 will be the cheapest small rugged PDA in the market when it launches.  If it’s not, it’ll just blend in with the rest and customers will ultimately buy an ES400 or smartphone.

Will the Pidion HM40 take back sales form the Semi Rugged Motorola ES400?

Will the Pidion HM40 take back sales from the Semi Rugged Motorola ES400?

Conclusion

if the price is right and Pidion take a few risks with the options then the blended spec of the HM40 and the Android / WEH6.5 OS options could just crack this market.  The price and the possibility of a scanner-less option could also steal sales back from Semi-rugged devices like the Motorola ES400 which we feel has been mis-sold, mis-understood and has very poor performance/ruggedness from our experience.

Take no risks and this will just be another small rugged PDA that customers will fail to understand and that will sell in low numbers.

The Rugged and Mobile blog.





Big Rugged Hugs and Thank-You!

20 07 2012

Rugged Thank YouThe RAM blog just keeps growing and along with over 500 subscribed followers (including most of our competitors!) we also now average over 700 unique visitors a day, often much more!  We really wanted to say thank-you, not just for reading but for all the comments, discussions and offline chit-chat that results from the blog as it helps us to help others.  I never know that there were so many people interested in Rugged PDA’s and people who often probably seem a bit over passionate about the smallest little things in the Rugged world!

Hopefully we’ll keep growing.  We have some exciting things just round the corner and you’ll be the first to know.

A big Rugged Hug to all of you!

The Rugged and Mobile blog.








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