Yesterday we looked at Small Rugged PDA’s, today we give our top 5 Semi Rugged PDA picks.

A semi rugged PDA usually forgoes its barcode scanner, its IP rating but keeps it’s drop spec so they tend to be as dropabble as lighter rugged PDA’s but in reality you have to take that with a pinch of salt.  The key here is that a Semi Rugged PDA will be a massively more risk free buy than a Smartphone.  it will out tough, out live, out roadmap and out support a Smartphone with its eyes closed and as such the Semi Rugged PDA has carved itself a niche in this ever growing Mobile hardware market.

Semi rugged PDA’s have to also be competitive on price with Smartphones and most of our top 5 you can have for almost, if not under smartphone money. Heres our current top 5 sellers:

1. Pidion BM170

The Pidion BM170 is growing in popularity fast and here it’s now out selling the ES400.  The main reasons are that is gives users what they want with a large 3.5″ screen, PDA format, multiple OS’s including WM6.5.1, WM6.5.3 and Android 2.1 and its superb XScale driven spec.  GSM/HSDPA versions and non WAN versions mean there’s a model for your needs.  We’re also testing Pidion’s new beta camera barcode scanner and have a video on here showing it holding its own against the ES400 so it’s fast becoming the complete article for our customers.

2. Motorola ES400

The Motorola  ES400 replaced the MC35 and for some this didn’t come soon enough.  However when the MC35 was launched everyone had Blackberry’s, the iPhone was launched since making the small, slightly awkward to use qwerty keyboard and small 3.2″ screen a “Marmite” decision for some customers.  It’s small though, well made and the extended battery version is a very competitively priced PDA at £430.  It’s still probably the most “smartphone” like device here in terms of picking it up and using it and it does come with a Datawedge driven camera based barcode scanner.  If you’re looking for a durable smartphone then this could be it, but it’s beaten into 2nd place as a semi rugged PDA for line of business solutions.

3. Pidion BM150R

This has been a stalwart, trusty device for many years and in my opinion it was ahead of its time when launched.  Like the BM170, it has a full spec, just a little aged now with a PXA270 heart but the GPS and 128MB ram still make this the choice for those on a budget and WM6.1 is welcomed by those not wanting to port to troublesome WM6.5.3 OS’s.  The BM150R also comes in PDA WAN-less versions right up to a choice of GPRS or HSDPA versions.  In this company it’s very affordable from £250 to £400, tried and tested and it’s still in many solutions world-wise.  Just be aware that we’re talking with Pidion about possible end of life dates for this now.

4. Partnertech OT-100 & OT-200

Hang on a minute, this is fully rugged I hear you say?  Well that may well be but we don’t think it’s quite designed for that kind of market.  The shiny almost iPhone-esq 4.3″ flush screen is really not going to fair that well if used by Engineers but it does have a place in hospitality, has a unique form factor and is semi-rugged priced at £450 and £550. As such is sits well as something where only data is needed (HSDPA for the OT-200, LAN only for OT-100), if you want something shiny, fairly inexpensive and it’s important that it looks a little bit special.  Well specified, if only this had GSM/voice on the OT-200 it would sell in far higher numbers.

5. Trimble Juno

This device whilst great on paper never really took off with us here.  It’s well specced, but it’s flaws were that it only had HSDPA data capability (No voice) on launch , it’s WM6.1 not WM6.5 and whilst Trimble are renowned for rugged high quality PDA’s this just isn’t up to it in our view, feeling slightly tinny compared to the rest of the devices here.  The inclusion of voice now on the trimmed down SD only range is welcomed but it’s also still very expensive at £800+ which would almost buy you 2 Pidions or Motorola’s in this list, or a fully rugged Intermec CS40.

That’s it for Semi-Rugged PDA’s there are new devices coming out all the time in this category, and we’;re especially eager to mention the new MH132 from Getac which is much-anticipated so be sure to come talk to us if you want any more advice.

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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