Motorola TC55 in the hand

3 02 2014
Motorola solutions TC55 is here!

Motorola solutions TC55 is here! (Shown with iphone on right for size)

So after a being a few weeks later than thought, the TC55 is now on general release with 3G and WiFi only models now available so we thought it was time after a week playing with the TC55 to deliver our verdict on the new rugged android smartphone.

First thoughts

The first thing you notice about the TC55 against all the other “Rugged” Android smartphones in this class is it’s form factor.  It’s the most smartphone-like rugged device out there and with the standard 2940mAh battery it’s slim and still has a whack of power.  The 4410mah extended battery puts a bump in the back of the device but the TC55 carries this battery well and in the hand it feels nice, light and generally feels good.

The barcode scanner is also beautifully hidden. No bumps and you hardly know it’s there. OK so the 1D scanner isn’t out of Motorola’s retail top draw but it works and even managed to scan through our difficult barcodes with comparative ease.

Lastly the device felt well put together, it’s clearly not as rugged as others in this category and we’d put it behind the likes of the Winmate e430 and Pidion HM45 but it’s certainly better than the Honeywell 70e in our opinion.  The tC55 definitely has an expensive feel to it though and represents a new breed of device for the workplace.

So at first glance a well put together device.

It's a Rugged Android smartphone party!

It’s a Rugged Android smartphone party! from left: Raptor 4, TC55, Pidion HM45, Winmate e430, Honeywell 70e


This is where the TC55 will win out against the competition with 2 big battery options that are basically like saying to customers “If you want all day working then there it is baby!”  The standard 3940mAh affair will be genuinely enough for most, but the 4410mAh battery ends the argument as it’s almost up in the top 10 of large batteries full stop!  The device is feature packed so you need to keep your eye on all the functions that sap energy and Android is a rafty OS for doing this but this is like starting 20M ahead in a 100M race.

TC55 showing odd shaped battery and clip on case that came off during drop test.

TC55 showing odd shaped battery and clip on case that came off during drop test.

Only thing we would mention is that the batteries are an awful shape and size with all kinds of clips and extrusions that made it really hard for us to get them out of a pocket and also fit quickly.  We’re not sure if this is an Achilles hell just yet but what we do know is that this could be a problem if changing the battery outdoors in the rain.

Barcode scanning

The barcode scanner is clearly a budget 1D imager but it works really well and we have no complaints scanning 1D barcodes, however 2D barcodes are left to the camera which means they’re slightly better than you get on your smartphone but not much.

The scanner button is in the wrong place though. Up on the top left it’s really awkward to use for right handers and you have to physically move your grip to use it often resulting in a dropped device!

RFID is built into the back case.  There’s no demo app but there are plenty about you can use.

Motorola Solutions TC55 top and bottom

Motorola Solutions TC55 top and bottom


In use the TC55 is great. It’s fast, slick, has all the apps we’ve come to expect from a Motorola Solutions device and it just works.  We liked the way the manuals and app galleries were integrated but of course this won’t be for everyone.  Dare I say it just felt like you had a n HTC smartphone in your hand with only the weight of the battery giving it away.

There are 4 Android hot keys on the device.  For us this is a big no-no! It’s like taking the generic Android experience and then changing it and it won’t compute with many but its a small thing really!

There’s also no Play store, but this is pretty typical of the rugged market.  Limiting Google’s prying eyes on the data of your business and customers is something that is a requirement for business mobile devices.

The screen was bright too and did well to stop reflections which will be great for outdoor users and the phone had a really load speaker to it as well as  a quality that we think is lacking in some PDA’s.

TC55 wearing protective boot and sporting rugged charger,

TC55 wearing protective boot and sporting rugged charger,


Again this is where the TC55 will score.  The accessories are in abundance and we’ve been playing with lots of them.  What is especially worth mentioning is the cleaver vehicle cradle which holds the device securely with rubber boot on or off.  You’re really not going to need a case in most scenarios but a nice holster would protect the screen when not in use and we’d recommend asking about your options here as the Moto one is the same belt holster as the ES400 and MC45 so it’s a bit marmite!

There are 5 slot charge cradles too so they’ll work in the depot quite well.


The TC is rugged enough.  It is a bit smartphone-ish in naked guise but with the optional rugbber boot it becomes a fairly rugged piece of kit.  It’s nowhere up there with true proper rugged but I would say that the TC55 is aimed at a specific set of mobile adopters and for the mainstream its going to be rugged enough.  This end of the rugged market is about features, keeping up to date rather than rugged devices that last 5 years.

That’s said it’s refreshing to see a rugged connector for charging on the device.  This not only allows for a quicker charge, which is essential with a 4410mAh battery, but it also means you can buy the rugged charge accessories that will ensure you never break the micro-usb adapter.

We have a few issues with the TC55’s ruggedness though.  Firstly the Micro USB rubber cover is now missing from both our test TC55’s. ONe has gone missing and this leaves the device totally exposed to the elements.  There are no replacements unless you have the full Service from the start cover for the device, although we’ll remedy that for our warranty only customers.

Another issue we had with the TC55 just like we did when testing the 70e was that the battery cover is a clip on affair just like the Samsung Galaxy/Note devices so it has already seemed to get slightly loose over time.  We’ve seen this on other devices and we’ll have to wait and see if it does create an issue for the TC55.  Its also a little bit awkward to fit on so you need to make sure that it’s fully clipped in or the device is exposed to water/dust.

What’s more worrying is that we have had reports of it pinging off if the device is dropped leaving the battery and the device totally exposed.  We did manage to replicate this ourselves here but only once.

TC55 USB cover came off during testing leaving device exposed.

TC55 USB cover came off during testing leaving device exposed.


So down to the nitty gritty!  You wont get much change out of £600 for the standard battery 1D barcode version of the device.  Removing 3G takes about £50 off the price as does removing the barcode scanner but that’s about it.  The equivalent Winmate or Pidion devices are coming in at around the £400 mark so at 50% more than the competition, it’s a decision that will need consideration.


Support with Motorola is getting tighter and tighter so let me just lay it out for you.  If you go for warranty only then expect high repair bills and at least a 3-4 week delay on getting anything back.  Stop moaning and stop putting pressure on resellers nothing will change!  If you want faster support then the @Service form the start@ packs are available

TC55 side on, sporting extended battery option

TC55 side on, sporting extended battery option


Motorola still see the TC55 as a quality offering in this market and as such it’s pretty much coming in at the top of the price range in this market so it’s going to need to be a considered buy.  However the device is well put together, despite some foibles, and it works well and so the question

Honeywell D60S in the hand

27 01 2014
The Honeywell dolphin 60S small rugged PDA

The Honeywell dolphin 60S small rugged PDA

We normally do a first look with new devices but in this case the Honeywell Dolphin 60S took us a little by surprise as our first demo units arrived, so instead we’ve been playing and tinkering with the new small rugged PDA to see exactly what the fuss is all about.

The D60S is first and foremost what we call a “small rugged PDA”.  The give aways are that it has a 2.8″ screen, it’s rugged (more on that in a minute) and it also has a barcode scanner built-in. However as part of Honeywell’s “Scan phone” offering, the idea is that the Dolphin 60S enters Honeywell’s range as a more budget offering.

But what about the Dolphin 6000

The Dolphin 6000 is a really cheap budget rugged PDA.  It’s barely rugged, has 1 model type and has been specifically designed to use the cheapest, often Chinese innovated equipment and what you get is what you get. The D60S is designed to give people a choice in the small rugged handheld arena so there’s just enough there to warrant the new model coming in and it will stand side by side with the Dolphin 6000, or at least that’s all we know right now.  I’d think if the 6000 as the cheap budget experiment and the D60S as forming more of the base line for the Dolphin field based rugged PDA’s.

ES400, D60S and HM45 show the Honeywell is is the small rugged PDA class

ES400, D60S and HM45 show the Honeywell is is the small rugged PDA class

Noteworthy features

Currently the D60S comes in 4 of configurations so you can buy the model that suits your business best.  Choose either numeric or qwerty keypad in both Wifi only or full GSM/3G spec.  The device is also a little more rugged in the hand than the Dolphin 6000. Sure it’s still only IP54 and has a 1.2M drop spec but it actually does feel like it would withstand more in the hand and a more in-depth tumble spec shows that a little more thought has gone into ruggedness on this device.  It’s certainly going to last longer than a Motorola ES400 that’s for sure.

The battery is also nice and big, although an odd shape that’ll make it awkward to carry spares around for.  However 3340mAh is going to be ample for most to keep this device running all day.  We also like to see a proper rugged connect on the device too.  There is a micro-USB connector on the side but this is for occasional use and the Honeywell rugged connector is present to all for more rugged snap on chargers that will withstand the every day abuse mobile workers will dish out to their device!

3340mAh battery but there's an awkward lip

3340mAh battery but there’s an awkward lip

The barcode scanner is a budget 1D/2D affair and it did pretty well, scanning everything we could throw at it.  A nice feature is the pure white light it throws out which will aid scanning but there was no red/green lights to improve contrast and the beam was very wide so it made aiming a difficult process.  It’s going to frustrate you if you are scanning barcodes in a confined area.

The Cortex A8 800MHz CPU, 256/512 RAM/ROM config and Windows Embedded Handheld 6.5 aren’t going to light anyone’s fire but in the hand the device felt speedy enough as it ran our apps and took calls and made emails without any drama.

We tested both keypads and they were nicer to use, the qwerty one is of course fiddly on such a small device but again it was way better than the ES400’s although fell short of the Pidion HM40’s which has space between it’s keys.

The D60S has a rugged connector

The D60S has a rugged connector


So the pricing is disappointing with the WiFi only versions starting at around £415 and the GSM/3G versions starting at £555.  We think the D60S has missed a trick here and could have stole a lot more sales from the ES400 and HM40 if the pricing was a little lower.  These devices are both sub £500.  The quality of the D60S isn’t any different than the HM40 for instance in our opinion and the Pidion brand is probably also worth more these days as a focussed rugged provider.


The D60S will be adopted here so we’ll be adding it to our Warranty+ products so you can get 5 day warranty repairs for very little.  You can;t get the full gamut of Honeywell services but there is a 1 and 3 year comprehensive cover product available if you want more.


The device looks very nice and it’s well put together which is what you’d expect from a Honeywell Dolphin series device and it has everything you need in a small rugged PDA.  However it’s not as rugged as it could be, the spec is in the budget area and the price doesn’t reflect that.  I think it’s hard to buy a poor rugged PDA these days as long as you make sure the support is there for you so with that in mind, the Honeywell Dolphin 60S is a decent little device but there is now better out there for less money.

Cipherlab CP50 tested

2 12 2013
The Cipherlab CP50 - An honest Rugged PDA

The Cipherlab CP50 – An honest Rugged PDA

There’s been a whole raft of rugged PDA’s come out the past few months but we’re always careful to only review ones when they’re ready, not when they say they are!  One such PDA is the Cipherlab CP50, which is selling and we have been playing around with for a week now and I wanted to share with you what we think about the new device.


To position the Cihperlab CP50 properly it’s Cipherlabs mid sized rugged offering. It sits above the CPT9200 but the CP60 is a bigger better device. So for us it’s kind of mid-way between the classic lightweight rugged class where the Pidion HM50, Motorola MC65 and Intermec CN50 sit and the larger class BIP-6000 or MC75A etc. What’s for sure is that the size and shape bring something slightly different.


So on to what we like about the CP50:

  • Shape – The shape of the device is nice. Its nice to hold, the main functional buttons are in the right place and the qwerty keypad was usable.  We were a bit confused around the Fn key and what it did but the CP50 is largely quite user friendly.
  • Despite being fairly small, the battery did seem to last. We didn’t test the battery fully but we did get a full 8 hours+ from it over a few days.
  • 2GB ROM storage memory is nice to see in a Windows Mobile device and will certainly help with any solution.
  • HF internal RFID reader option.
  • Decent 1D laser scanner.
  • Nice build quality, the device does feel tough and decent quality in the hand.
From left, Pidion HM40, Honeywell D70e, CP50, Pidion HM50.

From left, Pidion HM40, Honeywell D70e, CP50, Pidion HM50.


  • Despite being a nice shape to hold, we did find the CP50 a bit big compared to rivals. See the image below.
  • I don’t know what it is about handstraps right now but the Cipherlab CP50’s is yet another one that’s got a bit fussy!  It has a dual point Velcro fastening affair which we found hard to get right, you had to adjust it every time someone else used the device and also when replacing the battery.
  • Cipherlab “sign” software seems to just be a simple app with an image panel you can save as a BMP.
  • We found the CP50 a little bit slow to use.  It wasn’t glitchy or super slow but it hasn’t got the greatest core spec to be honest and you could tell during use.


There’s everything most people will need including vehicle options, cables and a trigger handle. No quad cradle kit but for a mobile “field based” device there’s pretty much everything you need.


There’s 10 different configs you can buy so you’re sure to find a CP50 that fits your business needs and pocket.  These give you a choice of 3G or WiFI only, qwerty/numeric keypad, 1D or 2D barcode scanner and HF RFID.

In the box

In the box is the device, battery, LCD protector, stylus, tether, handstrap, USB charge/sync lead and global power supply.

Cipherlab CP50 - In the box.

Cipherlab CP50 – In the box.


Price-wise the Cipherlab CP50 isn’t going to be headline news at all. Starting at about £670 you get the base spec device with laser scanner, but add 3G/phone, and this rises to about £850 which puts the CP50 only slightly under equivalent pricing from Motorola and Intermec (roughly £1000-1100), a tickly under the Honeywell Dolphin 7800 but way over the price of a Pidion, Dotel or Winmate device which are typically around the £600-700 mark for a fully specced device.

Service, repair and warranty

All repair services are done from Cipherlabs centre in Leeds, UK.  It’s good, they talk to us and things get done pretty quickly.  So warranty-wise they’re definitely better than anything we don’t repair ourselves here, and there are also a range of service based uplifts you can add on.

CP50 - Fiddly handstrap!

CP50 – Fiddly handstrap!


We’ve decided that the best way to describe the Cipherlab CP50 is as an “honest PDA.” There’s nothing wrong with it, it’s not the latest and greatest but it has a solid build, it fits in with the latest Cipherlab range and we can’t really see anyone being unhappy with it unless they had a really demanding application. It’s not going to set any hearts racing, the size and shape will be liked by some, not by others and it’s a shame that the CP50 isn’t as super-a-device as the CPT9200 and CP60 but it does work.

Introducing the Pidion HM Rugged Handheld PDA Series

3 06 2013

The new Pidion HM50 and HM40

The new Pidion HM50 and HM40

We’ve sold Pidion for a long time at Rugged and Mobile so we know how they work and when launching new products Pidion rugged handheld PDA’s need a little time to get bedded in and working well so we feel it’s only appropriate now to talk about their new HM40 and Pidion HM50 range.

The Pidion HM40 and HM50 form the 2 newest Rugged handheld PDA arrivals to the Pidion range and you can see as soon as you unbox them that they’re the start of something new, with a different design and better ergonomics.

The new HM40 and HM50 mobile devices in a Nutshell

The HM40 is what we would call a Small Rugged PDA.  It’s characterised as that due to its small 2.8″ screen and focussed on being lightweight, small and can be thought of as a small Blackberry type device with a built in barcode scanner.

The HM50 is also subtly different to anything in the current Pidon line up.  It doesn’t quite have the size and presence of a Pidion BIP-6000, but it’s nowhere near as compact and small as the BIP-5000, so we understand Pidion when they say it fits in between both of these existing devices.

What devices do they make obsolete?

Well the Pidion Hm40 is a completely new device in Pidion’s line up.  It’ll give an option to those wanting something small and will give a great “Value” driven option if you’re looking for an Intermec CS40 or Opticon H21, where it does compete well on price in this category.

The Pidion HM50 on the other hand is going to sit in between the existing BIP-5000 and BIP-6000 devices for the time being.  We’ve been given no end of life notice of either device and like many other devices Pidion sell, I think the HM50 will probably sit right in the middle, giving some subtle but obvious options for some.  Price-wise the HM50 isn’t really that competitive in our view.  So whilst the HM50 brings an up to date spec, for some it’ll be difficult to rationalise with Motorola, Dotel and others having far better value at this kind of spec level and quality.

The old and new - Pidion BIP-6000, HM50, BIP-5000 and HM40 enjoying each others company!

The old and new – Pidion BIP-6000, HM50, BIP-5000 and HM40 enjoying each others company!

Our opinion

We’ll reserve specific device opinions for our first looks and road tests coming up later this week as hardware and spec is only half the story with a rugged PDA.  They’re certainly new, interesting and decent enough devices but since the BIP-6000 and BIP-5000 were launched, the market has become a very different place.  At first glance both the Pidion HM40 and Hm50 bring something new to the Pidion range, they add to the choice for the end user and they also give options in terms of spec and cost.  So within Pidion, I think  both devices make sense.  However when we look at what they’re up against these days we’re not so sure if Pidion are getting it right.  Pidion still offer the same confusing and out of touch comprehensive and warranty services and without that you are at risk, no matter how good your kit is in our view.

Lets test the kit and get back to you!

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.

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