We’re Moving!

11 08 2014
Rugged and mobile is moving!

Rugged and mobile is moving!

We’re finally moving our blog!

We’ve been so busy blogging that no-one stopped to think just how old and creaky the blog had become so we’re moving home, knocking a few walls down, remodelling and doing some major decorating!!

The blog has grown so big these days and has so much media in it, we decided to take a break from posting to make the move as smooth as possible.

Please bear with us, we’re hoping it’ll take no more than a couple of weeks and in the meantime just get in touch with us if you need any help!

I always like to say thank-you, so let me also just say that once again to everyone who has made the blog what it is.

We’ll be back soon with a new, improved platform and some really nice surprises.

Dave and the team.

Happy May Bank Holiday!

26 05 2014
Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays!

It’s the last of our Easter/May UK bank holidays today so we’re having a well earned break!!

Here’s a nice picture to keep you going and we’ll be back tomorrow!

If you want to get more breaking news then why not sign up for our newsletter right right?


Phone and 3G what the spec sheet means

21 05 2014
Do you know what networks your rugged handheld will connect to?

Do you know what networks your rugged handheld will connect to?

In the last blog I did a quick update on the different levels of 3G your smartphone or rugged PDA or even tabvlet can have so today I thought i’d help extend that knowledge into underdstanding exactly what the “phone and data” section of the spec sheet actually means!

So as Judge Jules always used to say, “We continue!”

If we look at a typical phone and data section of a rugged pda we’ll something like this:

A typical phone chip spec

A typical phone chip spec

Type of 3G

This explains the level of data connectivity the device has and this is what I explained in the last blog.  So you’ll often see 4G at the top, followed by all the 3G prototcols, in this case HSPA+, HSDPA, UMTS and then the 2G protocols such as Edge and GORS and lastly the modem base protocol, GSM. The rule of thumb here is that all data connection are backward compatible so if the device has 4G, it’ll work at any speed downwards.  You’ll see in trhis case the device in question can operate on HSPA+ and below, which is 3.9G and below.

Phone networks compatibility

There are in fact 2 completely different phone networks in the world and where there are multiple network operators working on the same network type, they have to work on specific frequencies. Here in Europe we have the luxury of only ever connecting to one and this is known as the GSM network. Where you have multiple operators, for example EE, O2, Vodafone and 3, these all operate on their own different frequencies.

To be honest, I can’t even think of any phone that won;t work on any frequency any more so if you buy a Rugged PDA in the UK that works on the GSM network it can be connected to any operator.  Many manufacturers omit this off the spec sheet now to reflect this but if you do see things like 900MHz or 2100MHz then this is what they mean!

In other continents the CDMA network type is used and in some, like Africa and the USA both are present.  This is what the second section on the spec sheet is talking about so you’ll see lots of Now it’s often not cut and dry but generally if you see terms like GSM then the phone can be used on GSM networks and like-wise terms like CDMA/EVDO then it works on CDMA based networks.

To give you a real world example in the USA. AT&T is a GSM based network and if you were from the UK years ago then your phone would probably have connected to this network.  Verizon is a CDMA based network and this probably explains all the bother about the iPhone only originally working on AT&T.  The reason was it only had a GSM chip in it.

Now-a-days, especially if the device has a 4G capable chip, this has all become a little bit pointless, however with Rugged devices having longer technology refresh cycles, there are still some that you have to be careful of and choose the right chip for.  Always ask if in doubt!


The problem with Microsoft and Windows Embedded 8 Handheld

13 03 2014
Will Windows Embedded 8 Handheld work out for Microsoft?

Will Windows Embedded 8 Handheld work out for Microsoft?

So i’m ending this bonanza week all about Windows Embedded 8 Handheld which is Microsoft’s successor to the trusty Windows  Mobile line of operating systems with my brief thoughts on where the whole mobile OS market is going  for Microsoft.  In fact I’m not sure they’ll even be in it in 5 years time and here’s my reasons for thinking this.  Please note these are purely my own thoughts and opinions, based on the crazy stuff that goes on in my head.  I’d welcome comments and questions and a discussion so go over to twitter @ruggedandmobile to do that.

Why do I think this?  Well here’s why:

1. The global rugged device market for tablets and PDA’s is approximately 4-5M devices per year which is a fraction of the size of even the iPhone market, let alone the consumer one in general, so on the one hand I think having a rugged OS is good for business it’s still going to be a tiny market and not one that’s going to put Microsoft or anyone else for that matter back on top of the world.  Are Microsoft going to really support a completely bespoke OS for this market?

2. We’ve got very close connections to many rugged hardware manufacturers around the globe and we talk to them a lot.  The pilot running in the USA right now to me seems to be fraught with partner issues.  First its Moto, now it’s Pidion involved and it’s not clear at all where it’s going or with who.

3. The largest rugged supplier is Motorola Solutions.  However they’ve only launched Android based devices with a heavily bespoked OS this year, add in their Rhomobile offering and also the fact they’re clearly trying to create an eco-system of preferred suppliers and apps and you’d be right to question if they’re committed 100% to Microsoft any more.  I’m not sure Microsoft know or understands how to work in a multi-OS market and I would question if  anyone can commit to an OS 100% in one?

4. Windows 8 phone only runs on Qualcomm snap dragon chips and as far as I have managed to understand WE8H runs on the W8P core.  This chip is not only starting to show its age but as the months roll by, Qualcomm are  surely going to de-focus or even drop the chip for newer ones they’ve developed.  Are Microsoft OS sales going to be enough to keep the processor going or to warrant a redevelopment on a newer or more open chipset?  THey only have 2.9% of the consumer market and the rugged market, as already demonstrated, is tiny.

5. Add to the above, not enough is being done or said from partners or Microsoft themselves to give everyone a clear understanding of what is going on and how WE8H will work.  I mean WE8H has been announced for a year now.  I’m an ex-HP/Microsoft bod, I develop MS solutions, I sell Rugged hardware, i’m cheeky, nosey, tweet and comment all the time and I don’t know.  What chance has a small corporate got?  To me this always happens when doors are going to be shut on certain people.  Does it mean only the lead hardware partners get the technology? Does it mean the OS will rely on 1 chipset to function? Does it mean that developers have to migrate their Windows Mobile development to the W8P and WEH8 platforms…convenient hey? Whos going to lose out and why and how will that impact the smaller business looking to reduce risk and innovate on their own terms?

6. Lastly it’s been a year since the launch but still no WE8H devices that normal bods can buy and test with.  There’s still no strategy, despite some hardware manufacturers announcing devices themselves.  I think i’m right to ask what the heck is going on?

All I know is that people that I talk to are all leaning towards Android right now because they’re worried that WE8H is not only going to be too much of an unknown and thus a risk.  Android is here to stay in the rugged market, it’s getting better all the time, we’re writing apps to integrate barcode scanners and other hardware for smaller hardware providers or to simply differentiate and it leaves your choices open.  I think the world has changed hugely the past 5 years and will continue to change at an even higher rate.  Is it rude to stop and ask if Microsoft  might still not be quite as on the money as they think they are?


Windows Mobile lives on as Windows 8 Embedded

10 03 2014
Windows Embedded 8 Handheld is near...Nearly!

Windows Embedded 8 Handheld is near…Nearly!

Its Windows Embedded 8 Handheld week at Rugged and Mobile!

For those of you that don’t know Windows Mobile has been living strong in the rugged PDA world, despite its fall from grace and now replacement by Windows Phone in the smartphone and consumer tablet markets but it  still represents possibly the best mobile operating system for business data systems.  Sure it’s user interface is god awful, it doesn’t even know what Twitter is and if you can’t do it without a stylus then it’s not worth doing are all mantra’s iPhone and Android smartphone users would be visibly sick hearing but Windows mobile still does a lot that IOS and Android don’t and it still has it’s place in the business world.

First lets just clear up what I mean by Windows Mobile.  Windows mobile (WM) is the Wm5.0, 6.0, 6.1 and 6.5 line of operating systems that sits on things like Motorola ES400’s or Pidion BIP-6000’s. It turned into Windows Embedded Handheld 6.5 a couple of years back which most people still don’t see any differences in and there it has stood ever since.  However Microsoft finally announced it’s successor OS naming it Windows Embedded 8 Handheld early in 2013 but despite a few pilot projects stuttering and starting in the America’s we’re still waiting to see the first  fully fledged device come to the general market.

Now unlike most Windows mobile updates we’ve known from v5.0 to 6.5, WE8H is not going to be compatible at all, it will look like Windows 8 Phone edition but it will remain a completely different operating system aimed squarely at the barcode scanning, business data syncing and RFID reading rugged customer!

So what benefits does WE8H bring the rugged user?

Firstly the OS is built to accommodate far better touch based usability.  I think what we read into this is that even in the logistics end of the business world, we’re all wanting a better experience when using the mobile device we’ve been given.

Secondly there’s built in support for POS (Point of sale/service) with Microsoft saying that they are working to improve ease of building apps in the whole POS chain from line-busting to the POS terminal itself.  As you know POS is seriously going mobile now, its not the locked down PCI world is once was and people don;t like tills any more (Did we ever?).

Lastly support for hardware peripherals will be built in so if you’re Motorola Solutions you can build your barcode scanner SDK right into the OS giving fine control over any bespoke added hardware. This however has been given a boost by clearly extending support for many more hardware types like mag strip readers, better RFID integration, Hosted USB  and more.

Pilots running now

The one big pilot that has been running ins the “Home Depot” one in the USA.  A solid Windows mobile user already, Home Depot have been trialling WE8H to enable their workers to spend more time assisting customers directly and whilst we’ve heard of issues working with hardware suppliers (Is it Motorola, is it Pidion?) they are at least making progress and moving WE8H onwards.  More here on that in the video below:

So that still leaves a lot of questions for us lowly non-pilot customers and resellers and i’ll cover that off in the next post right here?

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