Motorola MC45 Versus Dotel H300 – Rugged PDA Showdown!

We haven’t done a Rugged Handheld PDA showdown for a little while and in fact never done a proper Motorola MC45 review either so with a spare Motorola MC45 and Dotel H300 sat on our loan device shelves, I thought I’d do a long overdue one for both of these devices.

Why the Motorola MC45 V Dotel H300?

Well the MC45 is sold as “a budget conscious rugged pda, without compromising quality” and at a guide price of £600 it does put it firmly in the budget range of most businesses looking for a rugged handheld solution.  The Dotel H300 is our King of the budget fully rugged at the moment so we wanted to find out just how it fares against the might of Motorola!

Spec – Winner Dotel H300

The Motorola MC45 first came out with in 1 spec, very much like the ES400, however a few more have silently found their way on to the price sheet, weirdly omitting items like WiFi saving more cost.  The general spec is pretty un-moving but that was the point with the MC45, “to product a budget priced PDA by removing or reducing the spec, so that quality was not affected.”  You’ll note I use quest there because with huge amounts of Motorola experience and expertise, I might not quite agree with some of the words in there!  The Dotel is freely configurable, you can even take the Bluetooth and GPS off the board and spec it up freely to include RFID, GPRS or 3G, SUMMIT or normal WiFi and more.

In the box – Winner Dotel H300

The Motorola MC45 incudes the device and a battery, it doesn’t even include anything to charge it with! On the other hand, the Dotel H300 includes choice of 2 sized batteries in the box (2400/3600mAh li-Polymer), a cradle, power supply and all leads, screen protector and 2 stylus types.  Yes if you want to just replace your device then we get that but that’s not what the everyday business is looking for in our view.  No comparison!

Price – Winner Dotel H300

So the MC45 is about £600, you’ll find it for £560-ish but trust me not many people are making money selling it at that price.  The Dotel in the same base spec as the Motorola MC45 as we can get to (the Dotel has a higher general spec) comes in a guide price of £630 but you have to add a charge solution to the MC45 which adds on £10 if you want the budget and non-rugged USB charger or about £60-70 for the rugged snap on.  The Dotel also has all the kit in the box mentioned above.

USP’s – Winner H300

Well the Dotel H300 has a great HF RFID solution, has 2 UHF versions, can be specced freely and is fully supported in the UK which is becoming a rarity these days!  They also have a modular snap on accessory system that works really well and they listen to feedback and change and add new apps and features to their growing SDK every month.

The Motorola MC45 really does not have any USP’s or innovative features that we can see because that’s not the idea with this device.  Its a cut down spec rugged pda designed to be inexpensive, giving the Motorola brand as a choice at the cost of features and spec.

Reliability – Winner Dotel H300

We’ve repaired Dotels right here for 18 months now from warranty up to comprehensive service models so we know how they perform.  We have seen just under 6% come back with what we would call warranty based faults in the last 12 months.

The MC45 is too early to tell, but judging on general and more recent Motorola performance, reliability in our humble view is not something that any of our customers would say their ES400’s have in bunches so we’d just say that in many of our customers experiences, the Motorola logo has not equalled instant quality on the cheaper Moto devices.

Service, Repair & Support – Draw

The Dotel H300 is an adopted product here at Rugged and Mobile.  We only adopt products that we can help innovate on, that we can ensure eliminate risk for our clients and that pass a certain quality level and that offer a more social and connected way to work.  Why would be peddle crappy kit from a digital era? we’d just lose money in the long run!  So we’d put our RAMCare packages, our expertise up against anything else on the market.

The Motorola service from the start service products are still the benchmark but they are very off the shelf for most customers and remove the relationship away from the reseller somewhat but they do work, are well oiled and we would say offer a product that eliminates the risk that day to repairs bring.

Warranty/out of warranty, we take an average of 5 days and £190 to repair Dotel H300’s, MC45’s we’ve had a few reports back from customers of £300 and 3-4 weeks time which is pretty typical for Motorola’s warranty service.

It depends what you’re looking for so we’ll call this one a draw.

Usability – Draw

You get 1 numeric keypad version with the Motorola MC45.  Now, I think that Motorola do generally make nice, easy to use rugged pda’s.  The buttons on the MC45 are in the right place, they’re nice to use, if a little bit close to each other and generally the device is light, small enough to use 1 handed and it’s just good to use.  The Dotel has 2 keypad options, with a qwerty and numeric keypad and the buttons are bigger, better spaced and there are more scanner buttons.  Don’t forget that the screen on the MC45 is smaller, good for some, not for others.  The scanners are equally good, with the opticon affair in the Dotel easily as good as the Motorola in the MC45.

Developer Friendly – Winner MC45

This is where the Motorola scores, however when you look online these days, there’s nowhere near the people talking and helping with their kit than there used to be.  Whilst the SDK is good, mature and full on the MC45 you are more limited.  However the MC45 does also have a raft of apps and features to help with productivity and this is where it scores its first win!

The Dotel H300 has a good decent SDK, its growing fast and there’s nothing wrong with it, it’s just not quite as good and full as the Motorola’s just yet and the bundled apps aren’t quite a s good to use.

So, brand is a powerful thing, it’s why people buy Audi’s and BMW’s when a Ford Mondeo is a better car than either according to the What car anyway!  Everyone buys with their hearts, whether for business or personally and this is why a Motorola rugged handheld PDA will always have appeal.  However just use your head a tiny little bit and you’ll find that there’s a lot of alternatives out there that are very good, if not better and I’ll just leave you with this thought.  Where are all the resellers and communities moving to?  I don’t see people advocating or flying the flag for the bigger brands these days?  So where’s all the expertise and knowledge going that’s the real stuff that will get you out of trouble when you need it?….I’m just saying….

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.