We’ve not been fans of mobile Compia Rugged PDA’s here , I’ll be straight up about that and the reasons for it. In our tests the devices tend to be a little bit rough and ready, there are some glaring issues with the current M3’s we don’t like and the distribution model is totally skewed towards certain resellers making for an un-even playing in the UK which in turn means customers are not getting an impartial view when talking to these guys. It makes for a closed shop and creates a hidden risk for customers which we don’t like here. It’s not transparent.
Having said this we’re always open to giving second chances here and as such are particularly eager to see the new M3 Orange and if it addresses any of the )technical faults at least) that the older M3’s had.
I’m not going to regurgitate the spec for you, if you want to see it it’s here: http://www.m3mobile.net/product/m3orange01.php What I will do is put our spin on what has happened here.
Firstly it is interesting to see that the M3 Orange looks like it might have included everything in the device this time rather than making it a fully modular type of affair. Older M3 Sky’s allowed you to literally take out all the modules including BT, WiFi, GSM, HSDPA, Scanner, so its niche for us was about providing a super inexpensive device that had everything stripped out. This isn’t the case here so we have always found that the M3 has been on a par with even Motorola devices on price when specced up to the same level so if this is the case we’d expect this device to be a lot cheaper. If it’s not then we’re going to have trouble selling it.
There are few welcome changes on this device though. The GPS module (I am told) is brand new and will fix in under 15 minutes, thank god for that one!! There are qwerty and numeric keyboard options and finally there is an extended 3300mAh battery that replaces those nasty old little 2000mAh ones that were not good to anyone!! There is also the same RFID reader built in to certain models so you can still have the same spec device with the RFID module. I personally worked with this RFID reader 3 years ago and found it to be pretty slick.
Interestingly they had stuck to a QVGA screen. There are absolutely no issues with the using the newer topology VGA screen with the CPU so I am guessing that this will be to reduce cost.
Other than that there’s not a lot new about this device which brings pro’s and cons with it. The PXA320 806MHz platform will bring stability and a sound performing platform but at the same time there’s nothing really new or special here. Whilst it has made a leap for M3 Mobile, it’s only just playing catch up with everything else out there now.
I’ll leave you with this. Over 75% of the costs of any Rugged PDA solution come after you deploy so whilst the up front pricing for the M3 Orange will be important, they also have to get far better at service and support. This is what I mean when I talk about an unfair playing in the UK for this device. It has made people selling the M3 into a non impartial scenario for some customers and the service and support for these is simply not up to scratch compared other manufacturers. If M3 Mobile can get the price of the M3 Orange, their distribution channel leashed in and the service and support issues sorted out then it could have just walked back in the room. If not then we see at least 1 new device per month in this category these days and it might not have done enough to stay in a very different market to last year. Watch this space.
The Rugged and Mobile blog.