I’ve seen things change significantly in the warehouse barcode industry the past year. Whether it’s the growing popularity of tracking in the warehouse, the accessibility of data capture technology being more freely available to smaller companies or the plain and simple credit crunch, things have changed.

Once you could go out into a warehouse and all you could see were MC9090G’s, the odd Honeywell 9500 and Datalogic Skorpio and that was about it! It was a lush hunting ground dominated by a few manufacturers but now there’s a new boy (or is it a girl, I don’t know!) in town.

There’s no doubt about it, every time I hand our well used and battered Janam XG100 into the hands of a warehouse manager, MD or software developer, the response is instant and always the same. First you hear “Oh I like this, this is really rugged, but it’s quite light,” followed by a “How much is it?”, followed by a quick “really? and you get the scanner in with that?” We hear this so much that it’s earnt the Janam device a place on our website featured items.

Price

Lets get the price out of the way right now. The XG100 comes in 5 guises all RRP’ing under £1200 with different keyboards being the only option. The unit comes with a standard 7.4v, 2500mAh battery, with charger and power cord which further reduces the expense, when you consider an MC9090 Cradle option is around the RRP£200 mark.

Rationale

Now don’t get me wrong. I’ve been battering Motorola a little bit this week (and it will stop when I review the MT2000 coming soon!) and the MC9090 in any form factor is a good unit. But that’s what it is, just “Good.” It’s spec is mid-range, the design is aging and the device itself and it’s options are expensive. It has almost become the BMW 3 series of the range, with a high price tag, offering very little accessories as standard but with an options list as long as your arm. The rationale for a BMW 3 series, if you take away the brand image, just doesn’t exist.

The XG100 is like the new Mondeo. It’s inexpensive, comes with everything you need to get going, is actually very highly specified and comes with the all the options you will need. All for a great price point.

If you can just stop thinking “But its a Motorola!” for one instant then the XG100 looks like a tantalising device.

Specification

Why have the option when you can just get it all!

The Janam comes with everything you need for a device operating “Within-4-Walls” as standard.

Cisco certified b/g Wifi, Bluetooth 2.0 and USB 2.0 mean fast communicating with other devices or your network.

A Marvell XScale PXA320 624MHz with 256MB DDR SDRAM/256MB NAND Flash ROM running Windows CE 6.0 mean it has a pretty good engine to run your software fast and efficiently.

A choice of 5 42/52 keypad options mean you’ll find one that suits your business needs.

Probably the best feature is that, like the rest of the Janam range, the XG100 comes with a 1D scanner that is firmware upgradable to 2D so you don’t have to worry about the future of your barcoding needs. Just upgrade when you need to in the future.

Design

You instantly feel the balance and lightness of the unit when you pick it up which your workers are going to thank you for at the end of a busy day. In fact the only device that comes near is the Honeywell 9900, known for its ergonomics. However the XG100 still manages to feel rugged at the same time.

The battery sits in the grip which means you don’t get that common back tilt weight and the unit just feels like it’s not fighting your wrist.

Ruggedness

IP64, a drop spec of 1.8mtrs with a 2000 tumble (4000 hit) rating is good for in this market and gives the XG100 as much ruggedness as a device needs in the warehouse.

Data Capture

The scanner is pretty good. It uses the “Adaptus” technology from Honeywell which is a proven and well liked scan engine. and the results of scanning in all conditions was very good indeed. The laser aimer made aiming easy and a loud beep and visual indicator meant you always knew you hadn’t missed a scan, even in a loud warehouse.

The trigger was fine, felt very much like the MC9090 and it did the job. Perhaps a little more feedback would have been better but its a small point.

Speed of scanning was good. The Imager performed as well if not better than our 1D MC9090 but was not quite as quick as a Datalogic Skorpio we put it up against and it easily scanned barcodes from an angle. The lightness and balance of the unit meant it felt extremely comfortable in use too.

If it maintains this scan performance when scanning 2D then it would be extremely pleasing to use.

Support

Janam recently revamped its support products and not only are they comparable with any of the Manufacturers out there, but these come cheaper and they can be tailored up or down. You can extend the warranty or choose from JanamCare’s Premium or Premium plus products and there’s even a onsite option if you want that. Support is UK based it has a 2 day turn-around and we get rave reports on the support service itself.

Support-wise the XG100 won’t let you down.

Drawbacks

OK, we live a non-perfect world and the XG100 does have the odd Achilles heel.

For starters there’s no Long Range scan option which means scanning from a forklift could be an issue. Talking of forklift trucks, surprisingly the XG100 does not have a forklift cradle accessory either. We can provide these ourselves but non-the-less it’s surely a glaring omission?

The XG100 also only comes with Windows CE6.0. We just think having a Windows Mobile option, inline with the rest of the Janam range, would make the XG100 less of a risk when developing software for it. C.E. 6.0 is also based upon the newer WM7 code base so we just feel having WM 6.1 would have been a better choice but it’s a small nuisance on an otherwise excellent device.

Conclusion

The XG100 is a fantastic device. It’s superbly balanced, has a great Adaptus scan engine, is highly rugged and is inexpensive. Its very nearly everything you need in a Gun format Rugged PDA and for the price point could well be a serious contender for our Gun group test, coming soon.

Final Scores

Design/Usability: 9/10
Scanning: 8/10
Specification: 7/10
Ruggedness: 8/10
Support: 9/10
Price: 9/10
Total : 50/60

The Rugged and Mobile blog.