Can the Janam XM66 Walk the Walk?

This weekend I’ve been busy looking at a few rugged PDA’s but more on them at a later date. One of these was one of the first Janam XM66’s to hit UK shores and although I have some fantastic kit undergoing testing here tonight, this little rugged PDA was the one I most wanted to see.

Why? Well the XM65, which I believe will continue to go on sale until further notice maintaining the Windows Mobile 5.0 option, was a great device. If I was talking cars then the XM65 was the Lotus Elise of the car world. Small, fast, reliable (for a sports car), not highly spec’d but it gave lots of bang for your bucks!

Wisely Janam have decided to evolve not revolutionise with the XM66. The new model comes with the following updates:

  • Brand new Freescale i.MX31 ARM11 @533MHz processor making it extremely fast
  • Double the RAM with 128MB DDR SDRAM
  • Double the ROM 128MB NAND
  • Larger standard 2000mAh battery (upgraded from 1880mAh) making giving the Janam even better all day usage
  • WLAN 802.11b/g and a/b/g radio options
  • Bluetooth 2.0 (was 1.2) more secure and reliable PAN
  • USB 2.0 for quicker cradle synchronizing Windows Mobile 6.1 for the latest software

First Impression

The XM66 is in exactly the same form factor than the XM65. In fact it’s identical other than the odd button colour here and there. It still feels small and light, but is large where it counts. The screen, although still QVGA is still crisp and bright and the scan buttons are still perfect for a PDA shaped device. My partner here loves this device simply because her hands can easily reach the scan buttons unlike a lot of Rugged Devices.

It’s also instantly fast. Whether it’s the new freescale processor and DRAM or what, it is absolutely lightning with IE, mobile Excel and even Word loading up almost instantly. Very, very impressive.

The stylus is also worth a mention too. It’d lovely and fat, almost the size of a pen and it’s a pleasure to use. All it’s missing is something to tie it to the device.

In the box you get the device nice solid, heavy cradle, a handstrap and all cables you’ll need to power and sync.

Market Position

So let’s get this out of the way. There is no GSM and there is no GPS! Those are for “field rugged PDA’s” and the XM66 is not primarily aimed at this market. This is for “within 4 walls” and the Cisco strength WiFi re-enforce this. Windows Mobile 6.1 means it will be easy to port software onto it and the little device will continue to impress and perform in this area.

However, I continue to get calls from people who want to use this in the field, in a type of rugged PDA manner so I see the Janam XM66 being used everywhere.

Specification

The specification is high. At first glance the processor and ROM/RAM combination seem weak but I can confirm that it is one powerful little device once in use.

Everything else is good, not fantastic. There’s no VGA screen, no 512MB RAM, no qwerty option for the keyboard but the key is that it’s good enough where it needs to be and you can rely upon the XM66 to do the job at hand.

The battery on the other hand is another story. Again on paper its 2000mAh which is decidedly average, below average compared to some devices. And yet, the Janam has sat here and beat almost every other device in our battery test.

Playing constant video at full screen brightness, the XM66 battery lasted almost a full 6 hours, meaning we’re confident this will deliver all day usage, just like the XM65 did. In fact if you have particularly intensive needs then there’s an extended 3800mAh battery that should be more than enough for most needs.

There is a direct PDA charge socket which we like to see so you can charge the XM66 directly, not needing the cradle.

Design

What can I say, it’s a Rugged PDA! Nothing special here other than the size. It’s nice and slim, very light still keeping the crown of being the lightest device in its class and all buttons (there are 3 scan buttons) are where you need them. The pictures below show the Janam along-side my iPhone which should give most of you a good impression of the small size for a Rugged PDA.

Scanning and Data capture

The scanner is very good and you can specify the XM66 with or without a 1D or 2D barcode scanner. Like all Janam’s the scanner uses Honeywell’s “Adaptus” scanning engine and it really delivers. Scanning was fast and accurate, you could scan barcodes at any angle and considering the scanner is 2D ready so a simple firmware update enables 2D barcode scanning and I was very impressed overall. I’m not sure if it has the same scanner as the XG100 but this seemed faster so I’ll be checking that out.

I’ve always liked the Adaptus scan engine and this scanner is no exception. It’s just plain good!

Ruggedness

THe XM66 comes in IP54, drop spec of 1.5M which keeps it where it needs to be and certainly enough for a device like this. You can drop it whilst up a ladder and it’s by and large waterproof. It still has that slightly lightweight feel about the plastics but I personally think that this is down to the physical lightness of the device rather than anything cheap and nasty going on.

Support

Janam’s support is comparable to the best and you can in fact tailor it if you needs something special like on site presence. We hear great things about Janam support and the JanamCare range of service packs offer something for everything at a very affordable price.

In the cradle

The cradle is great. Surprisingly heavy and solid feeling for a device of this level and it’s very sturdy. There’s space for a battery and PDA to charge and it does the job nicely. However there is one gripe I have. Actually cradling the device takes a bit of practise as the Rugged PDA needs to “click” into place and it doesn’t just slide into its position like other cradles.

You do get used to it but I do wonder how many uncharged XM’s workers will see after not realising they weren’t cradled properly.

Price

I was really eager to know what the new price would be, not because it’s the most important aspect of the device, but because it does put it in a bracket where it’s almost unbeatable. The good news is that the price has remained largely the same, so the rationale of the XM66 will be in tact keeping this a very powerful proposition for the right customer.

Drawbacks

So, cradle aside, the XM66 seems to be everything we expected and more but it’s not all good news. Firstly there’s still no vehicle cradle option. Secondly, no qwerty keyboard and Thirdly, no GPS. Hang on I hear you say! The XM66 is not and never was meant to be a field device so why does it need this? The answer…well we do sell these into the field. Not everyone wants to sync over GPS. Also with the MC35 now gone isn’t this the perfect time to fill the space with a device like this? It could be everything the Motorola device wasn’t!

Conclusion

The XM66 has a few gripes but it scores massively where it needs to. In my humble opinion it more than keeps it crown in its sector and I’m pleased to say that Janam have kept everything that was good about the XM65, whilst carefully updating what needed updating. Taking price into consideration makes this an altogether fantastic Rugged PDA and it gets a big thumbs up from us here at Rugged and Mobile.

Final Scores

Design/Usability: 8/10

Scanning: 8/10

Specification: 9/10

Options: 7/10

Ruggedness: 7/10

Support: 9/10

Price: 10/10

Total : 59/70 (84%)

The Rugged and Mobile blog.

About The Author

Dave's one of the founders of Raptor, his rants are memorable, his thoughts are stimulating and his heart is set on helping, entertaining and making things like mobile, Android, ruggedness, 3D printing and IOT simple.

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