We blogged about the Pidion HM40 some time ago but since receiving our demo pre-release device a few weeks ago now we’ve had a good chance to not only talk about the HM40 but the market and category of rugged PDA’s it sits within.
Small Rugged PDA
To be honest we’ve always been slightly flummoxed by the Small Rugged PDA category and if you talk about them to distributors and fellow competitors you always find the customer doesn’t quite get them either and sales figures show this! To be in this category, you need to have a small screen, 2.8″ seems to be the order of the day. Full built-in barcode scanners are mandatory and as the name suggests, these are full rugged PDA’s but…well smaller really! With this in mind lets take a first look at the little rugged PDA and see where we feel it will fit in.
Firstly the spec is pretty good, in fact it’ll be the best you can get in the rugged market when it’s released with a 1GHz Samsung CPU, which we’re told is going to be the new mainstay platform for Pidion as they release devices this and next year. Now add a 256MB RAM, 512MB ROM, QVGA screen, choice of scanners and keyboards and it’s not going to really light any fires but we do think this device has a few tricks up it’s sleeve that just might wake this category up a little bit!
The Opticon H21 is where this category has always happened. For some reason Opticon have always enjoyed the small end of the market down here with their H19 and H21 devices. Intermec have had a go with their CS40 device but the problem with both of these are that they ‘re way too expensive and in my view too highly specced for this end of the market.
Why HM40 and not Cs40 or H21?
So what is it that makes the HM40 different? Well firstly we think the spec is about right for this device, scrimping and saving where it needs to like in the QVGA screen (There will be a VGA option after launch) and from first discussions about the price we know it’ll make the device by far the cheapest in this category. In fact Pidion are most worried about the price and how their semi-rugged BM170 will cope with it so this is a clear indication that the price is able to get very low.
All new Pidion devices will have Android as an option on them so this will also give a clear USP to the growing band of end users looking to pursue Android for their mobile platform. Now I don;t know of another small rugged PDA with a numeric or Qwerty keyboard option in the market just yet so this will definitely be a key USP for the HM40.
The device will be sold in various configurations. Now again after talking top Pidion about this it’s not yet 100% clear however there will be more options than available ow with current competition so we’re hoping to see a barcode scannerless option, WAN-less options and the configs will grow as the device beds in.
Now don’t let anyone else fool you. There is still no official price on the Pidion HM40, we still don’t have the official accessory list and the “in the box” kit is still unclear as we go to press today. However what we do know is that the HM40 will be the cheapest small rugged PDA in the market when it launches. If it’s not, it’ll just blend in with the rest and customers will ultimately buy an ES400 or smartphone.
if the price is right and Pidion take a few risks with the options then the blended spec of the HM40 and the Android / WEH6.5 OS options could just crack this market. The price and the possibility of a scanner-less option could also steal sales back from Semi-rugged devices like the Motorola ES400 which we feel has been mis-sold, mis-understood and has very poor performance/ruggedness from our experience.
Take no risks and this will just be another small rugged PDA that customers will fail to understand and that will sell in low numbers.
The Rugged and Mobile blog.