Motorola MC3100

July 14, 2011

Motorola MC3100Hey so the Motorola MC3000 is toast. It’s been replaced by the MC3100 which is 100 better. There’s more to it than that, but I like to think that model numbers directly relate to the difference in capabilities of products.

The MC3100 sports the same build types as the older mobile computer: Straight Shooter Brick Thing, Rotating Laser Turret of Doom, and Traditional Gun-Style. You get your choice of Windows CE 6.0 Pro or Windows Mobile 6.5 Classic, so it should be compatible with most mobile inventory/sales apps. A 624 MHz Marvell PXA320 processor powers the device, along with 256 MB of RAM and either 512 MB or 1 GB of Flash memory. There’s also an SD card slot on it in case you want to load the scanner up with Starland Vocal Band. Or picking lists.

For scanning, you get your choice of Moto’s laser scan engine (SE950) or their blockbuster 2D scan engine (SE4500-HD). The Rotating Turret model only comes with the laser scanner, I guess rotating imager technology doesn’t exist yet. For scan range, the laser gives you 15″ of optimal scanning on 100% UPC barcodes, and the imager can read the same barcodes from almost a foot out. As always, your mileage may vary depending on the density of the barcode.

Motorola built the MC3100 to be pretty durable, giving you similar capabilities to their high-end industrial line while not breaking the bank. The operating temperature for the mobile computer is -4 to 122 F. -4 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s just frigid. But the MC3100 will keep humming along at that temperature while you’re wondering who told you -4 isn’t that cold. It also sports an IP54 seal, so windblown dust won’t get inside the body, nor splashes of water from any angle. That combo could make it a good choice for cold storage inventory management, or maybe penguin tracking or something.

In all, the Motorola MC3100 offers similar durability to the high-end MC9000 while not costing nearly as much. Some bells & whistles are eliminated, such as long range scanning, cellular radios, or a heavier duty environmental seal, but you still get tremendous features for data management within the four walls.

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 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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