Motorola MC2100

December 15, 2011

MC2100 Mobile ComputerThe MC2100 is Motorola’s recently announced mobile computer, looking to place itself between the MC1000 and MC3000, and I think it’s a great choice for retailers needing powerful inventory management at an affordable price. The low end mobile computer market has a lot of options, but many run a proprietary OS or cut out key features & functionality in an effort to make the price point more appealing. Thankfully, the MC2100 fits well into this price range without cutting out needed functionality.

The MC2100 runs Microsoft Embedded CE 6.0, which I guess is the next step in Windows CE. There’s been a pretty solid naming shakeup since Windows Mobile split into Windows Embedded for handhelds and Windows Phone, but it seems like everything is settled by now. Anyway, Microsoft Embedded CE 6.0 gives you support for legacy Windows Mobile/Windows CE software packages.

Windows CE is powered by a 624 MHz Marvell PXA320 processor with 128 MB of RAM and 256 MB of Flash. While it’s not the biggest and fastest mobile computer on the market, the MC2100 is going to make short work of database management for most businesses. For additional storage, a microSD slot supports up to 32 GB cards, for big databases, preformatted files, or 10,000 copies of Rebecca Black’s “Friday” in mp3 form. If you’re into that sort of thing.

For barcode scanning, the MC2100 gives you your choice of 1D laser scanner, linear imager, and 2D imager. The linear imager is a new addition from Motorola, and is pretty beefy. From what I’ve heard, you can get an effective scan range of 30″ on regular UPC barcodes with the linear imager. It should definitely cut down on having to haul products off shelves during inventory audits. The laser scanner and 2D imager are the same fantastic scanners Motorola’s been building since the dawn of time, so no matter which model you pick, you’ll have no trouble scanning barcodes.

Motorola really designed the MC2100 for retail inventory management, asset tracking, and receiving, not necessarily for heavy industrial environments. But for the 95% of us who don’t work in torrential downpours, sandstorms, or the arctic tundra, the MC2100 is still a tough product. The body is sealed to IP54 standards, meaning windblown dust & splashes of water won’t get in and harm sensitive electronics. It can also survive drops of about 4-feet to concrete, so it should be fine if it accidentally is knocked off a table or out of a pocket, but I definitely wouldn’t want to throw it to a coworker.

It does come in two flavors: the MC2100 and the MC2180. The MC2100 is the batch scanning device, and lacks a touchscreen interface and 2D imager option. The MC2180 is the more full-featured of the two, giving you Bluetooth and 802.11b/g/n WiFi, a resistive touchscreen, and greater data capture with 2D scanning.

Both are great options and definitely have different applications. The MC2100 would be a great fit for smaller retailers needing batch inventory counts but not doing shipping/receiving, more like simple data entry and management. If you need a bit more functionality, like up-to-the-minute inventory updates, or you’re scanning shipping labels or the PDF barcode on a state ID, the MC2180 is the product for you.

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