So, are there any Motorola ES400 alternatives out there, well in fact there are a fair few.  The semi rugged PDA market unquestionably growing, it’s a little bit confusing and there are a few devices of note out there that you should definitely consider when buying a semi rugged PDA.

We’ll go through the most popular devices we sell here, a few new ones and dip into the fully rugged PDA area a little bit too because some of you customers should really be considering these, especially at the pricing we can now attain here!

So why consider an alternative to the ES400?

The Motorola ES400 is a semi rugged mobile phone.  Its Achilles heels are the small LCD screen, the qwerty keyboard which is too small and too fiddly, the micro USB cable is on the side, not rugged but still means you can’t use any of your existing mini USB components and we also think it has too many gimmicks in it like the Red line scanner and a finger print reader that seems to cause us more problems than it solves.

If you want comparable but better

For roughly the same money the new Pidion BM170 solves many of the above issues for you.  It’s a PDA format semi rugged PDA, with a 3.5″ LCD screen, better CPU, 3 choices of Operating System (WM6.5.1, 6.5.3 and Android) and it has a 20% bigger battery.  This is the semi rugged PDA of choice at the moment for us.  It’s also properly semi rugged with a 1.5M drop spec (not 1.2) and is positioned as a semi rugged PDA, not a semi rugged phone.  It also comes in a non GSM/GPRS version.

If you want something cheaper

Well the best selling semi rugged PDA we sell is the Pidion BM150R, which is exactly the same style as the BM170 but it has a reduced spec (520MHz CPU, 128MB RAM, QVGA LCD, 2400mAh battery, WM6.1) but all the important components are present like 3.5″ LCD, camera, WiFi, BT, GPS, big battery, plethora of accessories.  This small rugged PDA is the most like for like replacement to the old HTC P6500 or O2 Mantle and it has sold fantastically the past year.  Again its fully semi rugged with a 1.5m drop spec and it also comes in GSM or non GSM versions meaning the range costs from £300 up to £400.  It’s a real bargain.

If you want something waterproof

This is technically rugged now but there are still 2 phones that are worth a mention.  Firstly Motorola’s DEFY (£300) is an IP67 android smartphone.  It offers something different and again as long as you need a mobile phone its something you should consider. Airo’s A25 is also something that people consider as it is decently specced, has an Intrinsically safe model, has a great GPS chip and is one tough little rugged PDA for £500.  Only service, support and generally low sales let this device down.

OK, so is there anything fully rugged for this kind of price?

Yes there is and if you are willing to compromise on RAM, CPU and screen size then the GaneData GX8010 (HH8010 in rebranded form) is the answer.  It’s the smallest fully rugged PDA on the market, has a built in 2D barcode scanner and we ‘re still talking around the £500 mark and its due a RAM/CPU upgrade next year.

I also think the new Intermec CS40 is worth a mention as, whilst it’s nearer the £700 mark it has a superb, brand new spec, is from a fantastic rugged PDA manufacturer and if size matters then this will be a very dependable device.

The best all round Rugged PDA at the moment has to be the Pidion BIP-5000.  This rugged PDA puts a slim, lightweight but fully rugged PDA in your hands for less than £600 with a currently unrivalled spec.  This is fast starting to outsell anything in the Rugged PDA space.

There we go, lots of choice and as usual come talk to me if you need any more advice at all.

Dave

The Rugged and Mobile blog.