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Digital Task Management




16 August 2012


Our annual roundup of key suppliers and their latest developments

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Some of the latest rugggedised handheld computers


This first part of our handhelds guide focuses on fully-rugged industrial-style handhelds. In m.logistics 57 we will be covering smaller-format rugged and semi-rugged devices and industrial PDAs.



Suppliers with a UK production or marketing base


Advantech MARS-1030
Advantech’s MARS-1030 is powered by a Marvell PXA255 processor matched to Windows CE 4.2 operating system (reportedly chosen for maximum compatibility with third-party software). It can be bundled with Wi-Fi 802.11b and GPRS wireless communication options and a 1D/2D barcode scanner. Users can add their own modules through the built-in SD, CF or PCMCIA slot.

There is an optional pistol grip and single dock accessories and a 4-slot battery charger. The MARS-1030 has IP54 certification and 5ft drop resistance, making it a suitable device for retail, warehousing, logistics and similar applications.

The H35B is RFID-ready and has HSDPA (3.5G) communications, 802.11b/g, Bluetooth, RFID/HF/LF/UHF, barcode scanning and GPS. There is a 3.5cm transflective QVGA TFT LCD display, and a Marvell PXA 270 624 MHz processor. Ruggedness levels include 5ft drop performance and IP65 dirt and water ingress protection.



Belgravium Boston
Belgravium is celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2012.

The latest version of the company’s Boston 8500 series includes a model that is certified for use in explosive environments such as oil and gas operations and pharmaceutical manufacturing. The ATEX certification means it complies with EC Directive 94/9/EC.

The 8550i maintains the robust credentials of the 8500 series in a new lighter casing. It has a magnesium alloy chassis that provides good torsional strength for the internal circuitry. It is matched with a high impact-resistance polycarbonate outer casing and high impact rubber bumpers. It is rated at IP65, and can survive multiple drops on to polished concrete.

It incorporates durable, hard-capped printed keys, with the 29-key numeric keypad designed to be ideal for a gloved hand.

Data collection options include scanning, voice and RFID. The scan key is positioned for scan-intensive environments and to cope with standard-range, long-range and extra long-range. There are six user-defined keys.



Casio IT90000
Casio’s IT-9000 series comprises six models, all designed for operations that require printing on the spot, including use as a mobile point-of-sale (POS) terminal, issuing of electricity, gas, or water meter reading slips; and printing of sales invoices and bills issued at a visit site, plus receipts for customers.

The IT-9000 comes with an integrated print thermal printer and near field communication (NFC) reader/writer designed for contactless smartcards and radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags.

It features a 9.4-cm (3.7-in) VGA Blanview LCD screen with touch panel that delivers good visibility both indoors and outdoors yet is said to consume far less power than conventional LCDs.

It meets IP54 dust and splash resistance standards, and can withstand drops of up to 1.5m.

Options include a C-MOS Imager for scanning 1D and 2D symbologies, a magnetic-card reader, 3G wireless WAN capable of high-speed downlink packet access (HSDPA), GPS capabilities, and a colour autofocus digital camera.

The IT-9000 can read data that has been recorded on cards or tags, and scan barcode symbologies printed on labels or other materials.

It includes device management software that allows data to be erased remotely over a WWAN network, while the NFC reader/writer can be used to verify an operator’s login credentials using a contactless smartcard. Secure Access Module (SAM) slots are available on board for use if even higher security is required.

Buyers of Casio’s ergonomic ultra-tough DT-X8 can now get RFID as a factory-fit option, as well as support for contactless smartcards and NFC. The device can also be preloaded with Wavelink’s Avalanche, Terminal Evaluation and Industrial Browser mobile management products.

The ultra-tough DT-X8 has an IP67 rating and is drop-tested to 3 metres. It also has exceptional battery life – up to 25 hours.



Datalogic Skorpio
Datalogic says its newly-launched Skorpio X3 handheld can be used for a variety of applications in the retail arena, such as assisted sales, inventory and stock management. It comes with a high-visibility 3.2in colour graphic display that presents the user with a larger viewing area thanks to its casing design. Its drop rating is 1.5m.

Thanks to its inclined scan engine, the company says users are able to scan 1D and 2D bar codes without the need to move their wrist, reducing operator fatigue to minimum. The Skorpio X3 also incorporates Datalogic’s Green Spot technology, placing a green spot directly on the code for good read feedback.

There is a choice of three different keypads: a 50-key or 38-key alphanumeric and a 28-key numeric.

There is a micro USB connector for direct charging of batteries using any standard power supply found in the cellular phone market.

Datalogic’s Falcon X3 device remains available, and has just had a firmware upgrade.


DAP Technologies

DAP M4000 range
DAP’s M4000 is the bigger brother to the company’s M2000 rugged computer, both designed for the warehouse environment. Like many of the current generation of rugged handhelds, the M4000 is built on a modular platform, so components can be changed should needs vary.

It has a Marvell PXA270 520MHz processor and runs the Windows CE operating system. There is 128 MB of SDRAM and 1GB of flash ROM. Communications include GPRS and Summit Radio wireless LAN 802.11b/g.

The unit is sealed to IP65 standard and engineered to withstand multiple 1.5 metre (5 ft) drops.

The M4000 comes with a 3.5in 256K colour LCD touch screen with LED back lighting and a choice of alphanumeric or alphabetical keyboard, which can be swapped if needs change – as can the scanning engine, which can be 1D laser or 2D imager. RFID functionality and GPS are optional.

There are four programmable function keys and four scanner trigger buttons – two each on the left and right sides – which are said to offer a good ergonomic fit to the user, saving the need to adapt to the device. It also can be equipped with a removable pistol grip, or vehicle-mounted.

It comes with a two-year warranty as standard.



Honeywell 99EX
Following Honeywell’s acquisition of LXE last year, its product range now includes some familiar LXE rugged computers, including the MX9 and Tecton.

Honeywell says its flagship Dolphin 99EX rugged handheld computer, launched in 2011, is proving popular for a wide range of mission-critical data capture tasks. It incorporates several features to help future-proof the user’s investment, including a 3.75g radio for faster voice and data communication, assisted GPS for faster location fixes in areas where GPS signals are poor, and a very fast 1.0GHZ Texas Instruments processor matched with 1GB of discrete NAND flash memory and 256MB of RAM.

It runs Windows Embedded Handheld 6.5, which is now the standard operating system on Dolphin rugged mobile computers, including the 6500 series. But support for CE5.0 will also continue.

The 99EX has a high IP67 rating against water and dust ingress and is said to cope with 1.8 metre drops to concrete, and has survived 2,000 1-metre tumbles.

Light, proximity and motion sensors help conserve battery life and improve ease of use. Battery life can be up to 16 hours, thanks to Shift-Plus battery management.

The company’s own Adaptus imaging technology now incorporates motion tolerance and the ability to read codes in any orientation and at longer distances.

The Tecton has a slim centre-section for a good ergonomic grip and includes a cold-storage configuration with programmable touch screen and scan window defrosters, and a cold-tolerant backup power source said to hold a charge longer in environments as low as minus 30 deg C.

The Tecton sports the fast 806MHz version of Marvell’s PXA 320 processor, with 256MB of SD RAM and 256MB of flash memory. There is also a 1GB (optionally 4GB) SD memory card. There is a choice of Windows Mobile 6.5 and CE 6.0 operating systems.



Intermec 70 series
The 70 Series consists of four ultra–rugged products built on a single platform, with one computer architecture, common system software and one set of peripherals to reduce infrastructure complexity and cost. Every 70 Series mobile computer comes pre-loaded with Intermec’s ScanNGo client to expedite device staging operations.

There are two large-format models. The CK71v is designed for in-premise operations in manufacturing and warehousing, while the CK71 is aimed at intensive scanning operations including parcel delivery.

The EA30 2D scan engine incorporates an advanced aiming system and motion tolerance to improve first-time data capture rates, while the EX25 near-far scan engine increases distance and speed of data capture. There’s a five megapixel colour camera, which combined with document scanning software (eMDI) allows scans of A4 delivery documents. The wireless connection is an 802.11n dual-band WLAN radio.

Rugged credentials include resistance to drops from up to 2.4 metres (8ft), survival after 2,000 tumbles and a virtually watertight IP67 sealing (units can be submerged in a metre of water for 30 minutes and still resist water ingress). The 3.5in VGA Corning Gorilla Glass touch-screen panel is said to combine the scratch resistance of a glass screen with the flexibility of polycarbonate, and Intermec predicts it will last twice as long as previous screens. The laser-edged hard-capped keys are wear- and fade-resistant.

An important innovation with the 70 Series is the FlexDock Modular Docking System, which aims to streamline charging and reduce the need to replace docking systems when it’s time to refresh the estate. You can tailor the dock to meet specific needs; for instance, it will support a single type of mobile computer or battery, a mix of mobile computer types, or even a combination of mobile computers and battery packs, all within the same dock. Device bases provide multiple options for data communications and / or charging, and a common interface between cups and bays allows flexibility within a single dock base.



Motorola MC9150
The pistol-grip 9190-G computer is the latest model in Motorola’s long-running 9000 series, and features a higher-resolution display, better scanning performance and more scanning options than its predecessors. The original version was launched in 2004, and there are now 1.6 million in service, says Motorola.

There is a 3.7in backlit screen and a choice of six interchangeable keypads. A Marvell PXA320 806MHz processor with either Windows 6.5 Embedded Handheld or CE 6.0 provides the computing power.

There is 1GB flash memory and 265MB RAM with a user-accessible SD card slot with support for up to 32GB of memory space. The 802.11a/b/g radio connects to both 2.4GHz and 5GHz WLANs, and offers support for voice-directed applications and Bluetooth 2.1 with EDR for wireless connections to printers and headsets.

Scanning options include 1D scanners, 2D imagers and speciality imagers for reading PDF-style codes and high-density barcodes. Interactive Sensor Technology (IST) on the 9000-series computers supports motion-based applications, including dynamic screen orientation, power management and free-fall event logging, helping to maximise efficiency and battery life. Battery indicators allow users to see the charge level as well as battery health.

The MC9190 has an IP64 rating, drop rating of 1.8m (6ft) and passes the 2,000 tumble test.

Motorola’s 9500 computer for field service operations is ultra-rugged with IP67 sealing and 6ft drop-test performance. It has configurable integrated WWAN, WLAN and GPS antennae with 3G capability. Power is provided by a Marvell PXA320 806MHz processor.

There is a choice of keyboards, all designed to allow one-handed operation. The 3-megapixel auto-focus high-resolution digital colour camera can be used with either the scanner or imager

The unit features Motorola’s Mobility Platform Architecture (MPA) 2.0 to help porting of applications from other Motorola computers.

The MC3100 and MC2100 are the value computers in the range, with slower PXA320 624MHz processor and lower ruggedness ratings, although they still cope with 1.4m drops to concrete and have IP54 sealing. Their tumble rating is 500 at 0.5m.

Both have fewer scan engine and radio options. Even so, the MC3100 can capture 1D and 2D barcodes, still images and documents as well as supporting direct part marks on specific configurations. An RFID tag integrated into the device allows it to be tracked on-premise.



Psion XT15
Psion has had a busy year so far. Hot on the heels of two major product launches, the XT15 and RT15, came the news that the company was being acquired by Motorola Solutions. However, it is too soon to talk about integration, so we are listing the company separately here as usual.

One attraction for Motorola may be that Psion’s strategy for its Omnii-based devices is that all upgrades and additional interchangeable modules will be developed by its 200 developer partners as well as by itself, all connected through its online community, www.IngenuityWorking.com.

The Omnii XT15 is sold with a "re-purposing" programme. After the first year of ownership, the company will convert existing devices to cope with different requirements. As an example, it could switch a 2D barcode scanner module for an RFID reader module.

There is a wide range of configurations; for instance, there are eight interchangeable keyboards. Among key features is the rugged, upgradeable display (a 3.7in transflective 640 by 480 pixel colour touch screen), which is said to withstand 1.25 joule impact with zero degradation to touch.

The XT15 comes as standard with accelerometer, digital compass and GPS – features that Psion argues are essential to effective remote device management and increasingly in demand from software developers.

The XT15 features a Texas Instruments AM3715 Sitrara ARM processor running at 800MHz, coupled with 256MB of RAM and no less than 1GB of flash memory. The operating system is Windows CE 6.0 or CE Embedded Handheld 6.5.

The 5000 mAh high-capacity lithium ion smart battery provides an impressive battery life between charges. Psion claims it will last up to 20 hours, even when you’re scanning or using wireless.

Expanded wireless connectivity includes 3.8G HSPA+, 2G EDGE, 802.11b/g/n and Bluetooth, with various quad-band and five-band telephony and data options. Scanning options include laser modules from Motorola, Honeywell and Intermec, plus imaging options. There is also an optional 3 megapixel camera.

The dust and water ingress rating is IP67 or IP65 depending on configuration, and the drop rating is multiple drops from 2 metres to polished concrete.

The RT15 is similar to its bigger brother, and has the same wide choice of keyboards, display and operating system. The processor is again an OMAP3 800MHz Texas Instruments unit.

The RT15 is slimmer and not quite so rugged, offering an IP65 dust and water ingress rating, and a 1.5m drop rating rather than 2m.



Skeye Allegro
German handheld manufacturer Höeft & Wessel now has a UK sales operation. Its Skeye range of rugged mobile computers includes the Integral and the Allegro. The Allegro is designed for one-handed operation on intensive scanning applications, and along with a conventional 2.8in colour display, it is also available with a 3.5in landscape display.

The processor is the 806MHz version of Marvell’s PXA 320 CPU, matched to 256MB RAM and 1GB flash memory. The Allegro is one of the first rugged devices to be available with Android 2.3 OS (Windows 6.0 is the other option). Auto ID options include standard and long-range 1D laser scanner and 2D imager. Communications include 802.11a/b/g WLAN, Bluetooth, HSPDA/GPRS and an optional GPS receiver.

Rugged credentials include an IP65 rating for the Allegro and IP54 for the Integral. Drop test performance for both is 1.2 m multiple drops to concrete, although an optional protector casing extends this to 1.8 metres.

The Integral has a 3.5 display and a choice of 15- and 19-key numeric keypads and 34-key alphanumeric. It comes with Marvell’s PXA270 624MHz processor and Windows CE 5.0 operating system. There is an integrated backup battery which stores data in RAM, and a 3,500 mAh double-capacity battery.

WLAN is 802.11b/g, and GPRS and Bluetooth are also included. Data capture is by means of a laser scanner or 2D imager.



Suppliers working with UK distributors or resellers

4P Mobile Data

Kestronics is the main UK distributor for Italian manufacturer 4P Mobile Data. The FDA 600 range now includes the 600-POS with integrated chip-and-pin magnetic-card reader facility certified to PCI PED, EMV Level 1 and Level 2 and clamshell thermal printer. It can cope with 1.2 metre drops to concrete.

The FDA 600 has a 3.5in QVGA touch screen with LED backlight. Processing power is provided by Marvell’s PXA270 50MHz CPU. There is 64 MB of flash memory and 128 MB SDRAM memory. The operating systems in Windows CE 5.0. Communications options include HSPDA/GPRS, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and RFID.



The BIP-1500 rugged device is the latest in the Pideon range from Korean manufacturer Bluebird. It has an integral 2in or 3in printer, yet still achieves an IP54 rating and 1.5-metre drop ratings. There is a card-entry PIN pad and fingerprint scanner and it is certified to PCI PED2 and EMV levels 1 and 2. The processor is Marvell’s PXA320 with an 806MHz speed rating, matched to Windows Mobile 6.5.

Other features include GSM/HSDPA (3.5G), 802.11 b/g, Bluetooth and integrated GPS. Further options include 2in or 3in thermal printing, 1D laser scanner or 2D CMOS imager and a 3 megapixel autofocus camera. For secure payment and transaction functionality, you can have a built-in PIN pad with MSR, IC and RF card reader, or built-in fingerprint scanner with MSR and IC card reader.

More rugged is the BIP-700, with IP65-rated sealing and drop performance of 1.8 metres. It has the powerful 806MHz version of Marvell’s PXA320 processor and can run Windows CE 5.0 or Mobile 6.5. WLAN capability is 802.11 a/b/g radio, and you get 3.5g WWLAN. There is a 1D laser scanner, 1D long-range laser scanner, 2D imager and 3.0 megapixel autofocus camera. The 2.8in touch screen can be used for digital signature capture.



Taiwanese manufacturer Cipherlab’s CPT 9600 terminal runs on the Windows CE Professional platform. It has a Marvell PXA270 520MHz processor with 1GB flash ROM and 128MB SDRAM, and comes with integrated GPS, WWAN, WPAN and WLAN. There is a built-in RFID reader/writer and 2-megapixel digital camera with LED flash, plus a choice of linear imager, 2D imager or laser options. The 9600 has a 3.5 inch VGA touch screen. The 3.7-volt battery is said to last 10 hours in WLAN mode.



Janam XG100
US manufacturer Janam has upgraded its XG100-series pistol-grip range. The XG100 features Honeywell Adaptus imaging technology and CMOS area imager, making the device 1D-ready and 2D-capable with firmware upgrade. The XG105 comes with Motorola’s latest SE96X-series laser scan engine, which reads barcodes as far as 17ft (5.2m) away. The battery for the XG100 is located in the grip to help with weight balance, and there is vibration confirmation of a successful scan.



Unitech’s HT660 rugged handheld range now has a faster Samsung 6410 667MHz processor, and has an SDHC expansion slot that supports up to 16GB of memory. It runs Windows CE 6.0. Summit WLAN 802.11b/G radio is incorporated, along with a laser scanner and Bluetooth 2.1+EDR. There is an optional pistol grip for intensive scanning operations. The 2.8in QVGA backlit screen is matched to a backlit 37-key alphanumeric keypad. It has IP54 and 1.5-metre (5ft) ruggedness ratings.



Taiwanese manufacturer Zebex has gone the jacket route to add modularity. The jackets can include scanner integration, RFID reader and GPRS, GPS and WLAN communications. There’s a 3.5in TFT QVGA colour display with touch panels. The operating system is Windows CE 6.0 or Professional OS, and a Marvell PXA 270 520MHz processor provides the operating power.

It has an IP54 rating and can handle 1.5 metre drops to concrete. 


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