The MC5590 is well suited for applications requiring a handheld computer with image capture or barcode reading capabilities, and feels rugged enough to survive in all but the harshest environments. Companies may have to invest in other Motorola products such as management tools to get the best out of the unit, however.
Rugged; Qwerty keypad; built-in peripherals; management agent support.
Relatively bulky and heavy; pricey compared with consumer PDAs.
£995 (list price)
Motorola's MC55 Enterprise Digital Assistant is a ruggedised handheld computer designed for enterprise applications such as field service operations, warehouses and healthcare. As such it is larger and heavier than consumer-grade devices, but is designed for a longer lifecycle and ships with vertical-oriented features such as a barcode scanner.
Launched in March, the MC55 is based on version 6.1 of Microsoft's Windows Mobile platform, and has a 3.5in 240 x 320 touch-screen similar to early Pocket PC devices. It has a 520MHz XScale PXA 270 processor coupled with 128MB Ram and 256MB Flash storage.
The MC55 is split into two basic models: the 5590 with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth for communications; and the 5574 which additionally features a cellular radio for wide-area networks and a GPS receiver.
Both models are available with a Qwerty or numeric keypad, and a 1D laser barcode scanner or a 2D imager. Both options are available with or without a 2-megapixel camera with flash.
We looked at the MC5590 model, which makes up for its lack of cellular capability with a more capable Wi-Fi adapter that covers 802.11a/b/g specifications. Our review unit also had the Qwerty keypad, the camera (at the rear of the case) and 2D imager (pointing out from the top of the case).
The MC55 is considerably heavier than most smartphones and PDAs at 315g, but it is designed for greater ruggedness. It exceeds the US military's MIL-STD 810F standards, which means it can survive a drop on to concrete from 1.2m. It is also sealed to IP54 environmental protection specifications.
The device has a 2400mAh lithium ion battery pack, which is roughly double the capacity you would see on a consumer device, intended to provide enough power for all-day use. Behind the battery is a combined holder for a SIM card and Micro SD Flash card, protected by a rubber cover.
For customers not so concerned with ruggedness, rival models such as the SoMo 650 from Socket Communications offer similar capabilities, but at a lower purchase price.
Despite its size and weight, we found the MC55 fairly easy to carry around thanks to a simple hand strap stretched across the rear that means you do not have to keep a constant tight grip on it.