Motorola has introduced an enterprise PDA with a few twists that update the traditional rugged handheld format. The new device has a modular design allowing customers to swap out the wide area network (WAN) adapter, plus a motion sensor feature more commonly seen on consumer smartphones.
However, the new model's most important feature is the introduction of a universal accessory system that promises to simplify backroom inventory management for customers, according to Motorola.
Available to order from 18 September, the Motorola MC9500 builds on the company's existing MC9000 series of handhelds designed for field service engineers, sales force automation and retail environments.
Like those models, the MC9500 is ruggedised to survive outdoor use, but is the first device of its kind with modular WAN capability, according to Motorola product manager Kristy Lupis.
This offers greater flexibility in configuring the device, she said, as customers can buy the device without WAN capability and upgrade it later, while US customers can switch the device between GSM/HSDPA and CDMA/EVDO mobile networks as required.
"Customers do not always have an immediate need for WAN, so they can buy the device with Wi-Fi only and add the WAN subsystem at a later date as easily as adding a peripheral. You just remove the keypad and slot it in. There's no need to send the device back to us," Lupis said.
The MC9500 also has interactive sensor technology to support various motion-sensing applications, such as dynamically switching the display between portrait and landscape modes, putting the device to sleep if it is left face down, and logging sharp impacts to allow companies to see whether employees are treating the device too harshly.
Motorola said that it is looking to maximise backroom efficiency by introducing a universal accessory system and form-factor-agnostic cradling, so that customers can use the same docking cradle and peripherals with different Motorola PDAs.
"Future generations of Motorola handhelds will leverage the same hardware, and we plan to make adapters for existing devices," said Lupis.
Battery packs for the MC9500 feature push-button indicators to show the charge level, but which also show the health of the battery so that customers can determine whether it is wearing out and needs replacing.
The device also has a modular keypad that snaps on and off, enabling customers to choose from four types, including full alphanumeric and calculator or phone numeric layouts.
The MC9500 runs Windows Mobile 6.1 with a 3.7in touch screen and is based on a Marvell 806MHz XScale PXA320 processor with 128MB RAM and 512MB Flash memory. It also has a microSD slot behind the battery for Flash storage up to 32GB.
As well as the optional WAN module, the MC9500 has 802.11a/b/g Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and IrDA wireless connectivity. Data capture options include a 1D laser scanner or 2D imager, either of which can be combined with a 3-megapixel digital camera.
The rugged casing of the MC9500 is designed to protect against falls from 1.8 metres, and complies with MIL-STD-810G specifications, according to Motorola. It is also IP67 rated, meaning it can survive immersion in water.
As with Motorola's other enterprise PDAs, the MC9500 supports the company's Mobility Services Platform management suite.
Prices for the MC9500 range from $2,495 (£1,518) to $3,295 (£2,004), depending on the wireless module and data capture options selected.
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