We first saw a “modular rugged PDA” with Motorola’s MC9500 but the Psion Omnii XT10 takes the modular concept a little bit further.
Psion are a funny animal, choosing an odd route to market with their IKON series, but where you can’t argue with Psion success is in the warehousing devices they offer. The Workabout Pro series is certainly a rock solid foundation with customers that love the devices and the vibrant refurb market is proof of this.
So the XT10 has a solid Rugged Handheld foundation to build on but why buy one of these instead of a trusty WorkAbout Pro 3?
Well firstly the Omnii XT10 is a modular Rugged PDA that’s adaptable both before and after the sale. This is a concept that I really do believe in as so many people simply don’t know whether they will need 2D scanning in the future, aswell as change their minds on keyboards and various other options that will only ever become apparent after a few months usage. So the modular concept is certainly one that’s going to be welcomed. There are also a fair few scanner options including a long range, 2D and auto range option that are very useful in warehouse environments when set up correctly.
Secondly the modular concept, if implemented in the right way, could mean that broken parts might well be user replaceable, making those of us who don’t have a service contract a better proposition if devices get injured or broken. You can buy the tools to remove the components, but we can’t see the LCD screens on the accessory list yet which is the biggest accidental repair needed on rugged PDA’s. I can just see many a warehouse manager “Borrowing” parts from other devices in an effort to do some general fault diagnosis on his own devices. Can’t be bad can it? Psion may have just given us all 30 minute call to fix without realising it!!
We can also see a social side to the device because Psion have a great opportunity to let users buy, sell or even swap 2nd hand parts as users flip and change their modules! May an idea for the future!
Spec-wise the The Texas OMAP 600MHz CPU is a nice chip, with dual cores and proving to hold its own against the Qualcomm and XScale crew. It’s nothing special but it certainly won’t let the device down and the 256/512 Memory is adequate but enough. You can pretty much spec in and out any of the usual options like GPS, Keypads and WiFi and this device is a far more flexible device to configure compared to some of the more rigid starting configs of some Psion devices. You can also spec either a brighter screen or a rugged protected LCD, both 3.7″ in size. Lastly the battery uses the same 5000mAh capacity as the IKON. Now we know this is the biggest battery on the market, but it is not necessarily the longest lasting as many factors will alter this. We currently have the Pidion BIP-6000 as king of our battery test beating the IKON hands down in our in house tests but the new SMART energy management on the XT10 battery and the OMAP processor will definitely improve on the IKON.
OK, so what the downside? Well the pricing is disappointing and looking substantially higher than the Workabout Pro range with RRP’s of £1500-£1600 compared to £1000. This is a major premium to pay for a bit of future proofing in my view so the jury will be out on this until we get feedback from some of our Psion customers.
Secondly its a Windows CE only device which we feel is disappointing in todays more “commodity” focussed software market that really demands Windows Mobile. So whilst its clear that the Omnii XT10 is aimed at the “within 4 walls” environment, it has the left the door open to the field mobility side but will CE hamper this a bit? I think it will?
I’ll end on a high note here though and say it is a very rugged looking PDA and if the Workabout Pro is anything to go by these will also prove to be a sound investment for years. IP65 and a drop spec of 2M is a very good indicator, although I would love to know what on to “polished” concrete means Psion!!! There will be the usual extensive range of accessories, you’d expect from such a device.
So in conclusion the Psion Omnii XT10 is a great concept and if the parts are made freely available then it could even change the market just a little bit. In practise however it might not quite be all its made out to be and even then there will be a price to pay for the flexibility that will limit the market appeal of the rugged PDA.
The Rugged and Mobile blog.