So with the Motorola ES400 reviewed and now out, I thought it would be nice to spend this week looking closer at the ES400.  Here we start with a Q & A clear up a lot of questions we are getting about this semi rugged PDA and how it is being positioned by Motorola now that the dust has settled.  I’ve answered some of the key questions here as honestly as I can and because I am asked almost on a daily basis now.

Is the Motorola ES400 Rugged?

If I got a pound every time this was asked…  This is a symptom of how this device is being marketed and who is trying to sell it.  Firstly the ES400 IS NOT rugged, it is semi rugged.  Anyone telling you its rugged doesn’t know what they’re on about and this is a symptom of the channel Motorola have used to “Pump” this device out through.  It should not be used in environments where you need a rugged PDA as it will last 5 minutes.

Is the LCD screen really small

Yes, it is and the qwerty keypad is very tight and certainly not capable of being used with gloves on.  There are far better devices that have 3.5″ screens and I am getting so fed up with seeing people’s faces drop when they see the LCD on this device!!  See alternatives below.

Does it have a barcode scanner?

The barcode scanner uses the camera, just like the MC35 did.  Like all Camera based barcode scanners, it is not great, not great at all and with some expertise and configuration that we can do here it is at best useful for adhoc scanning solutions.  It is especially difficult in changing or low light conditions and 1D barcodes are very susceptible to misreads which can your whole mobile solution at risk.

Yes it does have a fancy red line that is projected from a light beneath the camera, it’s there to help aim only, it’s very faint and to me, it just clarifies who this device is being aimed at.

What about the Finger Print reader?

Works exactly as the old iPAQ one, in fact looking at the assembly it looks like the same part to me.  If you leave the device in the sun or anywhere remotely warm, like in front of heater grills in a vehicle then it bleeps incessantly at you until you switch it off.  I just forced myself to use it for a week as part of a blog series coming soon and I couldn’t wait to get rid of it!!

If you put your workers in the field relying on this then it places your security at greater risk not reduced risk.

Can you buy the device on contract with O2?

Of course I hate admitting this because they can offer the ES400 at a price no reseller can, at least up front.  See the next blog in the series about this.

Can you get the ES400 with WM6.5.1?

No you can’t.  For those of you who don’t know, WM6.5.1 is the stylus friendly version of WM6.5.  WM6.5.3 is the finger friendly version.  A lot of applications including some market leading field mobility apps will not run on WM6.5.3.  Check before you buy with your reseller, if this is O2 then good luck with that!!

Can you get the ES400 with Android

No you can’t!  Try a Pidion BM170 instead which can come with certified Android 2.1, WM6.5.1 or WM6.5.3 on it.

Are there any Alternative devices with advice on them?

Absolutely.  The best semi rugged PDA we sell full stop is the Pidion BM170.  It goes toe to toe with anything and is a superb device.  Want something cheaper than the little Pidion BM150R is a lower specced version of the BM170 but still a very capable device for way less money.  More rugged?  The smallest fully rugged PDA at the same price is Ganedata’s GX8010.  It’s a great little Rugged PDA with a few Achilles heels that are being ironed out soon.  If you want something with a numeric keypad then Airo’s A25 works well too if a little bit large for some.

Read more later in the week.

Why does my reseller sell the Motorola ES400 in a different manner to other Rugged PDA’s?

I’ve done another blog on this too and its here: The trouble with the Motorola ES400.  Basically it’s not a Rugged PDA, it’s a mobile phone and a s such it is a very different product with very different positioning.  Beware is all I can say at this point!!

I’ll be adding more questions soon.

The Rugged and Mobile blog.