The new ES400 enterprise digital assistant from Motorola has the potential to change the rugged mobile computer industry. Motorola has taken an interesting approach with this device. It isn’t as small as a PDA or smart phone but it is the smallest rugged mobile device that we have seen in the industry.
The ES400 mobile computer does pack a lot of features in a small form factor: cellular radios, Windows Mobile 6.5 operating system, 600MHz processor, 256MB/1GB memory, and more. Motorola’s list price is under a $1000, so it is very affordable and attractive from a pricing stand point. We are being told that the device should be able to ship in October. Motorola has an ES400 micro-site with a video, product tour, product photos, and specifications.
Even though this device is being positioned as a rugged device, if you look closely you’ll see the drop specification meets Military Standard 810g 4ft. drop specification and 3ft. drop to vinyl covered concrete. That is not a drop specification that we see often with devices in this space. We usually see drop specs ranging from 5ft to 6.5ft drops to concrete. Also, the ES400 has an IP42 seal rating, which only gives protection against small tools and wires (not dust) and against rain.
I have had an ES400 in my hands and it does fit nicely in the palm and does operate easily. One of my biggest concerns was that Motorola would be utilizing the camera to scan barcodes. Motorola had done this with the MC35 and it did not work well at all. This time when I tested the ES400 scanning performance, I was pleasantly surprised. Would I want to scan hundreds of barcodes a day with this device? No, but if I needed to scan 20 or 30, I could see the ES400 working just fine. Although, I have not tested the scanning capabilities on poorly printed barcodes or damaged barcodes, which are often seen in the “real world”.
The ES400 mobile computer will be a game changer in the AIDC industry. It will be interesting to see how the other manufacturers respond. The ES400 is trying to bridge the gap from smart phone to rugged device; do you think it will?