So today we’re talking about “Cheap Rugged PDA’s”.  Before I go on I have been purposely using the word “cheap” because these PDA’s represent phenomenal value for money and the phrase “Cheap Rugged PDA” is what people look for in Google!  We don’t sell Tat here, everything still has to qualify for the main rugged criteria which haven’t changed:

  • Physically Rugged on paper and by design
  • Good roadmaps and available parts
  • Good support, decent warranty repair service and service products
  • Decent range of accessories

What does cheap mean?

Well for a start cheap means substantially less money than the main brands we here about.  At the end of the day most of the branded Rugged PDA’s use the same chips, the same or very similar components and very few seem to have any USP’s these days.  In fact many of the best known Semi-rugged PDA’s are pretty cheap when you open them up and take a look anyway.

To be a cheap rugged PDA here we look for a price of between £500-600 and this has to include all the leads and cradle in the box so it’s usable straight away.  To put this into comparison with Motorola you would generally pay over £900 for an MC65 but you also have to buy a charge solution for about £60 on top of that to even charge it up!  Intermec it’s worse, you don’t even get the battery included in the price.  You have to watch put for these caveats and your reseller should always be pointing this out early on.

With a Dotel H300 for instance you get a rugged PDA with many great USP’s and for about £600 including cradle, all leads and 2 LI-POLYMER batteries!

Semi Rugged is also cheap

Yes, well you can buy a Pidion BM170 or Motorola ES400 for around £400 these days but these devices aren’t going to give you a solid platform in a lot of cases.  You have to understand that you are making compromises with a semi-rugged device and with the ES400 resellers are making no margin on a product that is as complex as a rugged PDA.  You don’t need me to tell you where you end up with that recipe!

Buying branded semi rugged is more of a risk than buying a cheaper brand Rugged PDA because with an ES400 you won’t have the reseller dedication and services available which you will with say a Pidion or Dotel.

Cheap Rugged PDA’s all have poor service

If we went back 1 or 2 years I’d agree.  But here I think our Pidion and Dotel service is a best kept secret where our customers get 24 hour repairs, under 5 day warranty repairs, access to account managers with great communication and all at great pricing, now better than branded service plans and repair costs.

It’s not about the hardware you buy any more, it’s about the service that keeps you running.

Cheaper Rugged PDA’s use cheaper components

OK, lest talk about the Dotel H300 which is a lightweight Rugged PDA which we’ll talk about in the next post in more depth.  This has an XScale PXA320 CPU, Qualcomm HSUPA or Edge chip, Summit WiFi chip, Opticon and Adaptus scanners, Sirf3 GPS and 2.1 BT.  Add to that lithium Polymer batteries, a casing that is reminiscent of an Intermec CN50 and service that Motorola and Intermec can’t touch and we think we’ve got this question covered!

They never have good accessories

Well actually they do.  The Pidion range of PDA’s for example have as much, if not more accessories than their Motorola or Intermec counterparts and guess what, we fabricate and make our own accessories and probably add at least 1 every couple of months.  We also have a network of partners who make cases for us, LCD protectors and all kinds of accessories that are off the price list!.  We even have people who re-design the straps on some products.

In conclusion it is now very clear that branded Rugged PDA’s have slowly but surely been pandering to the big resellers and forgetting about the little one.  This has definitely had the effect of polarizing the market so you get a lot of people who champion products they know nothing about and palm off all the post sales services back in to the Manufacturer.  Big companies treat people like numbers and it;s the smaller resellers who have worked hard to adopt products that are forging the way ahead now, innovating, customizing and providing superb service all round.

Tomorrow we’ll do PDA showdown to see just how well “cheap” stands up against 2 well-known PDA’s!

The Rugged and Mobile blog.