Honeywell Dolphin 70eHoneywell just announced a new mobile computer to hit the enterprise market in a big way. The Honeywell Dolphin 70e is a response to a rapid increase of BYOD at businesses and managing the multiple devices needed to keep employees working efficiently on the road or within the four walls. Also I think they really wanted to announce a new Dolphin in Miami. Maybe they can even land their announcement on page one of Google results for “Miami Dolphin.” Maybe.

The Dolphin 70e continues a conversation enterprise mobility companies have had since consumer devices caught up in terms of performance. An iPhone is remarkably powerful and will do pretty much the same stuff as a more expensive enterprise device. However, if you drop your iPhone, your Samsung Galaxy 3, your Moto Droid Razr HD, odds are the screen will shatter and you will no longer be having a good day. And that’s part of the tradeoff with consumer electronics, they’re affordable, powerful, but not durable.

With the Dolphin 70e, you get a similar design to a smartphone but with the durability necessary for mobile field service, route management, or any mobility application out there. The press release only says it can withstand drops to concrete. I’m not going to make a claim on from what height, that’d be foolish.

However, and this is a big deal, the Dolphin 70e is rated at IP67 seal specifications. It’s completely sealed from dust, so no random dust accumulation behind the screen, that’s nice. That second number, the water-related specification, that means it’s sealed against drops into like buckets of water. I’m not sure how often people like to dunk phones into water, but they can with the Dolphin 70e. Given how often friends have “lost” phones to the terrors of rain and gimlets, this seems like a great feature for a lot of people.

And because it’s from Honeywell Advanced Imaging and Data Capture, no Dolphin would be complete without a barcode scanner jammed into it. The Dolphin 70e has a 2D imager built-in, I’m assuming it’s the Adaptus they just announced a couple weeks ago. Even if it’s their older Adaptus 5.0 imager, it should be great for scanning barcodes.

The Dolphin 70e will be available with Windows Mobile or Android OS depending on your needs. So if you have infrastructure & software already established in the Windows Mobile environment, you’re set. But if you are looking at moving to Android, or you want to see how awesome the Android version of RedBeam is, you’re still set. According to the announcement it should be available February 2013, just in time to be a Valentine’s gift for a clumsy loved one.

[Press Release – Honeywell’s New Rugged Enterprise Hybrid Device]

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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.

Unitech PA690

September 21, 2011

Unitech PA690 Mobile ComputerA couple weeks ago, our rep from Unitech came by to show off some of their newer products, including the Unitech PA690 mobile computer. The PA690 is built for mobile field services, delivery, and route management, and has some great features to make life easier while on the road.

What I really like about the PA690 is the larger than normal screen. At 3.8″ diagonal, the screen is pretty big, giving you a native resolution of 800×480. So now if you’re checking turn-by-turn nav or an auto-updating map, you can see a little farther down the road without having to zoom out. Also, with signature capture apps for like delivery verification, you end up with more space, great for showing a fuller item breakdown or maybe a picture of Ted Danson.

Windows Embedded Handheld 6.5 (I think that’s Windows Mobile 6.5) runs on the PA690, so you get a modern looking phone OS plus compatibility with legacy Windows Mobile software. You might need to double check that the software’s designed to run on dynamically-sized resolutions, otherwise it may look chunky or weird. A lot of legacy mobile apps were built with QVGA (320×240) resolutions in mind, so they don’t necessarily scale properly. It’s a thing. It happens.

Not only did Unitech beef out the screen to unheard of proportions, but they kept the PA690 pretty sturdy, so even out in the field it’ll keep running strong. The rugged body is built to withstand drops of about 6 feet to concrete, so falling out of holster or off the hood of a truck won’t slow it down. An IP65 seal keeps out dust and low pressure jets of water, and the unit is built to operate in temperatures from 14° to 122° F so neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night will keep the PA690 from fulfilling its data management duty.

The PA690 is powered by a Marvell PXA320 processor rated at 806 MHz with 256 MB RAM and 512 MB of flash storage. There’s also a microSD slot in case you need to load larger inventories, route schedules, or the complete works of Foghat. Slow Ride is pretty great to listen to on road trips.

There are two major designs for the PA690, one for general data management, and another with an emphasis on mobility. Both come with Wifi and Bluetooth, fantastic for shipping/picking or ensuring employees have the most current data at their fingertips. There is also a version of the PA690 ideal for use outside the four walls, adding in a GPS radio and 3.5G GSM/GPRS communications.

Motorola ES400

June 1, 2011

Motorola Solutions have been trying to hit the mobile field sales/mobile manager crew for a while, with their last iteration being the MC35. Technology apparently didn’t meet their needs, because the 1 megapixel camera was woefully underpowered for good barcode scanning, and the device itself wasn’t exactly the fastest on the market. However, the fantastic price point and ability to freak out only a little after a whiskey spill made them a hot seller for us. Motorola’s new foray into this market, the ES400, is leaps and bounds above the MC35 and should be a great fit for mobile sales forces.

The first thing to note about the ES400 is that it’s just a little bigger than a Blackberry, so you can stuff it in a suit pocket and keep a smooth look. I feel my best when I look smooth, and I imagine I’d sell better if I looked smooth as well.

The ES400 is powered by a 600 MHz ARM 11 processor, with 256 MB of RAM and 1 GB of flash memory built in. If you need more storage, there’s a microSD slot that supports cards up to 32 GB. Slap some Foghat on that SD card and now you have tunes while you’re out on the road. You could also keep updated client data files, daily sales routes, and other assorted important data if you prefer.

Barcode scanning on the old MC35 was difficult for anything but standard UPC barcodes, and even then it was frustrating to find the sweet spot. The ES400 upgrades from a weak 1 megapixel imager to a 3.2 megapixel autofocus color camera, so reads are quick, reliable, and devoid of performance-based stress on part of the user. It also sports a user-adjustable red LED aiming beam, so you can get a better idea of the optimal reading area.

All models come with GPS, 802.11, and Bluetooth radios, as well as a soft-switch GSM and CDMA cell radio. So now rather than hauling a Garmin, work phone, and mobile computer, you can take the ES400 and have it in one small device. The soft-switch between GSM and CDMA is pretty rad; you get greater coverage than with just one of the networks, making it easier to get route updates on the road. Although I guess now you have no excuse for a midday nap when you’re “out of coverage”.

I’ve talked up a lot of what makes it great, but there are some sacrifices made. Unlike it’s burlier MC55/MC65/MC75 cousins, the ES400 is not durable enough to withstand really abusive behavior. But again, this is for a mobile sales force, not field service employees. The drop spec is a resistance to drops of 3 feet, so slipping out of a pocket isn’t too big a deal. It’s also not quite as well sealed, with just an IP42 seal specification. The odd splash here or there, or maybe a little dirt on the device could be okay, but I definitely wouldn’t use this in a car wash. Though I would like to see an advertising campaign involving high end durable products being used in extreme circumstances. Or a Moto rep trying to scan car VINs while they’re getting washed.

So if you’re looking for a relatively inexpensive way to capture data on the road, or even within your business, the Motorola ES400 is a smart choice. It comes with a one year warranty, and is a great step between consumer phones and heavy duty mobile computers.

Motorola Mobile Computers

February 4, 2011

In the past couple years, Motorola’s moved from the very different MC50 and MC70 mobile computers, now offering the MC55, MC65, and MC75. And while they look relatively similar, there’s a bigger difference between them than one being ten more than the other.

MC55: The MC55 is kind of the entry level mobile computer in terms of features, but is still a great fit for inventory management or data collection “within the four walls.” I’m really feeling comfortable with corporate jargon, so to translate, the MC55 has WiFi and Bluetooth communications capabilities, but lacks cell phone radios.

You also get the option of the laser barcode scanner or the 2D imager, so you can trim down costs by getting a unit that just has what you need and that’s it. There’s also an optional camera if you happen upon the ultimate there I fixed it situation and must capture it.

MC65: Of the three, the MC65 is the most versatile. You get the Bluetooth, you get the WiFi, but you also get a soft-switch cellular radio in there. So you can switch between CDMA or GSM networks without having to swap cards or reboot the mobile computer. Now even if you’re in the boonies, you have a good chance of getting enough bars to order a pizza.

The MC65 is a little stronger than the MC55 as well, able to survive bigger drops and dirtier environments. You also get a faster processor and more RAM, so loading apps or searching databases is a little snappier.

These units all come with the Blockbuster 2D imager, which I’ve mentioned as being the bee’s knees previously. It’s a fast scanner, I can see why it’s going into most of Motorola’s new products.

MC75: As the beastly big brother of the lineup, the MC75 beats out the other two in terms in of raw performing power. You can get a cell phone radio in the MC75, but unlike the MC65 you have to choose a single network.

Like the MC55, the MC75 comes with either a 1D laser barcode scanner or blockbuster 2D imager built in, and the option of a camera. The wide variety of MC75 options lets you pick the model that has the features you need & little else, saving you some cash.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the major differences between the product lines.

Product MC55 MC65 MC75
Durability IP54, 5′ Drops IP64, 6′ drops IP54, 5′ drops
Cell Network None GSM and CDMA GSM or CDMA
Scanner Laser or Imager Imager Laser or Imager
RAM 128 MB 256 MB 256 MB
Processor 520 MHz 600 MHz 800 MHz

So not only is the MC75 twenty better than the MC55, it’s better suited for high demand computing, field mobility, and applications that have very specific requirements. The MC65 is the one-size-fits-all option for mobile computing, and the MC55 fits at home within your business for data capture.

Motorola MT2000

April 6, 2010

Hey it’s been a while since I made a post. Like over a month. That’s not a good way to build a readership. But here it is, some new gear from our friends at Motorola. The MT2000 is an upgrade and replacement over the old Phasers, and it seems to try to bridge the gap between barcode scanner and batch data collector.

There are two flavors of the MT2000, the MT2070 which is batch and bluetooth, and the MT2090 which has an 802.11b/g radio built in. You also get your choice of laser scanner, 2D imager, or a high density 2D imager, so you only have to pay for the barcode scanning you need and nothing extra. As fantastic as the laser barcode scanner is, I definitely recommend the 2D imager. Motorola’s made great strides in their 2D imaging technology, and the MT2000 definitely shows the fruits of their labor. This is the same imager that’s found in the DS9808, a presentation scanner fast enough to keep up with grocery store scanner/scale combos. It’s pretty badass.

The MT2000 has a similar design to the Phaser, looking like something you’d imagine Commander Riker would be using to shoot aliens. Phaser is definitely an apt name for the product. It’s pretty comfy to use, and the balance of the device prevented wrist strain during extended scanning. Motorola also beefed up the durability on the MT2000, giving it a drop resistance of 6-feet to concrete and a “sneeze-proof” IP54 rating.

Overall, the unit has a good design and should fit in well at retail establishments or warehouses alike. It runs Windows CE 5.0 Core with a default barcode/quantity application installed by default. While in bluetooth mode, the MT2000 can send barcode data individually or in batches to your computer, and can filter by location.

I spent the better part of two weeks working with a MT2090, which is the WiFi flavor of this line, and I can definitely see it fitting into businesses that may need to do batch scanning but need a bit more than a Honeywell Voyager BT in memory mode or an Opticon OPN2001. By default, our version sent data to the communications cradle and on to whatever text field happened to be active. Batch data can be delimited by tab or comma, so a combination of a MT2000 and Notepad can make it easy to build CSVs for receiving or even creating purchase orders.

All in all, it’s a good unit. I did try to disable the built-in software, in hopes that I could boot into Windows CE by default, but was unable to do so. This could make it a little bit more difficult for developers to get their software onto the MT2000, but according to Motorola, MCL is also supported, so if you are developing within MCL you should be set.

Motorola MobileVisor

February 26, 2010

A couple years ago I made a post about the Motorola ScanVisor, a slick way to do quick Moto barcode scanner comparisons. Anytime you can find out the real actual differences between the LS9208 and LS9203 more than one has a tilty base has got to be a good day for buyers. Moto took this idea and applied it to their mobile computing line, so now there is the Motorola MobileVisor, and I think that’s fantastic.

Purchasing a mobile computer is an incredibly expensive ordeal and should never be taken lightly. Personally, I’d be really hesitant to drop two grand on something unless I knew for certain it was right for me. So with the MobileVisor, you can compare the MC55 and MC75 and see a solid breakdown of the differences, far more than “This one is black and this one is gray.” You can learn all sorts of crazy stuff, like that the MC5590 has a 520 MHz processor while the MC75 rocks out at 624 MHz. And I just now realized those mobile computers are faster than the iMac I used through most of college.

And much like the ScanVisor, MobileVisor lets you breakdown product listings by your industry, so you can look for the right mobile computer to use in a truck that hauls petrochemicals, or the health care mobile computer that is ideal for doctors who perform only appendectomies. Totally spelled appendectomies correctly on the first try. Count it.

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