Rugged PDA’s with RFID

The job of the Rugged PDA is ever-growing as more and more technology is packed into them and with RFID solutions growing rapidly, it’s as important as ever, as a rugged reseller, to know which ones can support a built in RFID reader.  Here we look at Rugged PDA’s with RFID.

Firstly a 30 second overview of RFID.  Yes its very complex, yes you do need to be empirical and any rugged reseller who knows RFID at all will know this.  RFID projects rarely work by selecting equipment discreetly and the tags, software, Rugged PDA and expertise should all come as one happy solution for the least risk and most efficient platforms that will pay off for you in the future.

RFID comes in 3 flavours.  Low Frequency (LF), High Frequency (HF) and Ultra High frequency (UHF).  In a nutshell LF was where it all started and despite being wrongfully talked about as old and superseded by HF, this is not true.  There are still many areas a LF solution will outperform an HF one.  HF however is the newer short range standard that has been adopted and this is where you’ll see most hardware manufacturers developing in.  Both LF and HF are short in range, we talk in inches here not feet!  UHF are the longer range RFID readers that can do well over metre length scanning in the right environment and with the right tags.  This is a very, very short description of RFID just for the purposes of this post.  If you thought Barcodes were complex then RFID is way more complex than that in reality but a good expert will know exactly what to do for you and the right solution can save you £1000’s every month.

RFID Manufacturer choices

If you need a robust RFID solution then a special mention needs to go to manufacturers that can offer you this.  Psion, Intermec, Skeye and Motorola all excel in this area and offer end to end solutions for your hardware that have been proven and tested time and time again.  Where the requirement is anything but simple its worth looking at these manufacturers.  For a little investment up front, you get far better solutions in the long term with devices, tags and solutions all certified to work together.

UHF devices

So on to the devices!  Due to the nature of UHF it is only found in a few specialist devices.  The reason is the large aerial required and the battery power needed to run a long range RFID scanner.  Due to this there are still some very unique and old devices being used but here we’re going to stick to what we would consider more mainstream devices.

Skeye’s Allegro is one of the best out there in the mainstream devices, it has a good aerial, it’s a nice scanner to use and the company will work with you on your project with no fuss at all.  Motorola has a UHF version of its MC9090-RFID series which is a typically decent product aswell as a brand new UHF version for the MT2000 and Intermec do a great product called the IP30 that will allow many of its Rugged Handhelds to just snap in to it.

UHF is costly and slightly cumbersome with lack of choice in devices but it will give the most flexibility in your solution and the longest ranges.

LF/HF Devices

This is where the business of RFID is growing most rapidly and where most Rugged Handheld manufacturers are committing their spend.  Its also the standard where you’ll find all the cheap nasty kit that doesn’t work on Ebay!!  THe best options here are:

Ganedata GX8010 and GSmart, these devices can simply change the 2D scanner module for either an LF or HF RFID scanner, very flexible and a decent scanner too.

Pidions BIP-6000 can also change the barcode scanner for an HF RFID Reader, which again is a decent reader.

Psions Workabout has a choice of LF or HF readers and the NEO range has a clip on HF reader that is arguable not a snapon!

Lastly the M3 from Mobile Compia or M3 Mobile or whatever they call themselves these days has another very elegant and very good RFID reader version that leaves the Barcode Scanner in-tact.

Snaps ons

Some manufacturers offer a snap on solution that is worth mentioning too and I have listed these here.  Benefits of a snap on are that you can share them, they are swappable so you might not need the same amount as Rugged Handhelds and you can buy them separately after the fact.  Con’s are they can get lost, they often make the solution more expensive and complicate matters slightly.

MC75 – HF snap on which I have personally worked with on a few projects.  It’s a very good reader.

Psion IKON – Another HF reader based on the same tech as the Workabout series.

Janam XM series – These have a neat HF reader that we have tested and found to work pretty well but not quite as well as the MC75 and Psion kit.

Lastly there is also now a brand new UHF reader for the Motorola MC55 and MC65 range which we feel will be a major hit.  We’ll talk more about that in a later post.

This list is by no means exhaustive but I just wanted to give people a lead into what we provide here and what has the best flexibility when it comes to RFID reading.

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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