Small Rugged PDA Group Test – Features/USPs/Benefits

So this article is 2nd in our series of 4 Small Rugged PDA group Test blog and today we’re going to just take a look at the overall features, benefits and how the devices feel.  Very “What Car!”

In the Hand

Size is important in the Small Rugged PDA class, but it’s also about how these PDA’s feel and work in the hand too and I have to say that every one of these devices felt different when using and holding them.  The Honeywell and CS40 are the smallest and lightest and felt like most like smartphones, the bump on the Dolphin 6000 isn’t really noticeable but the missing volume and any side keys on the CS40 were.  The chrome on the CS40 looks nice but why make it look nice when the text all over the back of the device makes it look shabby?

We only have a LF RFID version of the GSmart to test with so it has a big bump on the back of it but we know the std version of this is still a deep device and the most bulky device here but it also feels the most rugged and honest too.  It won’t fit into a pocket like the other 4 but you do feel like it’s a real Rugged PDA.

The H21 feels the largest here, despite not physically being the largest and it also had the most awkward keypad in my view although the qwerty keys were easier to type on than the CS40’s.  It misses dedicate scan buttons on the front face though like the others which in devices this size I think are more useful than on the side, where user expect the Windows Mobile dedicated keys like volume, camera and power.

The DOTH-300, despite being the largest on paper was surprisingly slim, slipped into the back pocket of my jeans easily and actually felt smaller than it should have.  It’s getting to get a small but dedicated fan base here I can tell you that!

Perceived Ruggedness

Now all of these devices are rugged, have drop specs and IP ratings but I have to say some devices just  feel more rugged than others.  The GSmart is clearly the toughest here, its plastics are rugged, buttons are large, simple and feel they will last a 3 year fight and it really is a Rugged PDA shrunk down.  The DOTH-300 comes in a close 2nd with big buttons again, nicely finished but hard plastics and a recessed screen; It just felt tough too.  The H21 and CS40 come next.  The H21 has a rubbery skin to it which I liked and our demo device seems to be keeping fresh,  The buttons though are poor with our demo device breaking after 3 months use.  The CS40, despite being the most expensive device here clearly uses what I feel are thinner/cheaper plastics.  The Dolphin 6000 is also clearly the least “tough” device here.  It uses shiny cheap plastics, feels the most flimsy (but not flimsy against a smartphone)  but then again its half the price of the CS40.

Price

Intermec’s CS40 tops the bill here, you won’t get much change out of £800 when you’re done.  You do get a choice of keyboard and a fully featured device though with 2D barcode scanner.

The H21 and GSmart come in next at around the £700 mark for very similar specs to the CS40 but you can spec down the 2D scanner for a 1D in both devices and the GSmart can have this removed or replaced with RFID.

Dotel’s DOTH-300 can be specced down to about £500 without the Barcode scanner and you can go a good £150 less than this if in base spec as you can spec out pretty much anything in this device so it really is a great alternative to a semi rugged or smartphone solution now.

The Dolphin 6000, is a clear winner here at £330 but you do have to buy a charge cable on top of that for about £25.

Size

Best described in the image below.  They’re all small compared to a Motorola MC65 which is considered a lightweight fully rugged PDA to us here.

Service

The DOTH-300 and GSmart can be serviced by us here, you won’t get better and faster repair services than us for anything, just ask our customers about that.  The Honeywell has a decent set of service products and despite being the “Cheapest” device here, the little Honeywell has an established and excellent repair and service system to rely upon.  Intermec’s service has been pretty poor recently for us, we’re making changes to make it better but for some reason RMA’s with Intermec are taking 5+ days to even get logged right now.  When the devices eventually get sent, they tend to be handled OK.  THe H21 still does not have a recognised Manufacturer lead service product which I think really hurts the device.

What we rate…

  • 2400mAh (3600 option) Lithium POLYMER batteries as std on DOTH-300.
  • The demo apps on the Dolphin 6000 are awesome, it’s the easiest device here to get playing with.
  • LF, HF and UHF RFID options on the DOTH-300 & GSmart.
  • Grippy casing of H21.
  • Scanner on CS40 is the best here.
  • Simple RH/LH keyboard layout on GSmart.

 What we hate…

  • Small 1530 mAh battery on Dolphin 6000, we hear that the Honeywell guys are telling people that the device “sips” power and doesn;t need anything bigger but we’ll be the judge of that in our benchmark tests next.
  • Guitar “Pic” stylus on DOTH-300 is not to everyone’s taste, although there is a full stylus available.
  • Buttons on H21.
  • USB and Micro-USB connectors will break on H21, CS40 and GSmart.

Features to note

The Dolphin 6000 is seriously cheap in this class and does this by using an MTK Chinese CPU and main board, along with a cheap 1D scanner but it does work as a package, the scanner is pretty decent and it’s not a slow device to use by any means and is going to rattle this market without doubt because people are looking for cheap that works.

The Doth feels so small in the hand but it’s extra size makes it feel like a small rugged PDA but with all the benefits of a larger one, the 2400mAh std battery os also bang on the money in this class.

Yes you can have any colour on the GSmart as long as its yellow!!  seriously though they will change the colours for larger orders,

The case on the CS40 is just cheap and nasty, chrome on the front, loads of text all over the back…Kind of like putting make-up on a sheep!!

Conclusions so far

Every device here brings something different but I think on balance of the above so far the Honeywell Dolphin 6000 and the Dotel DOTH-300 get the link juice for this blog.  They are showing that you can make a lower priced Small Rugged PDA and by using a bit of initiative keep the quality and features high.

This will all remain to be seen as we take a look at the performance of each device in our next blog in the series… the benchmarks.

The Rugged and Mobile blog.

3 Responses

  1. JOCLADA

    Well done Dave & Co. Great review. Really interested to learn how the Honeywell 6000 fares in the next tests. It shall definitely be on my short list as replacements are required.

    • ruggedandmobile

      Hi Joseph

      Its Dave here! Many thanks for that, yes we are getting so many new devices right now it’s unreal, but be sure to check in when we do our benchmarks on these soon. THe Dolphin 6000, despoite being very budget, is actually a pretty nice device.