Did I mention before that I’m not a Windows Mobile fan? Ever since I escaped from WM phones to join the Apple Fanboy Club, I’ve always hated having to go back to WM for industrial applications.
The good news is that with the rise of web based applications and the need for something other than a tiny display, the Windows Mobile rugged handheld devices are getting some new competition from tablet form factor devices. Better yet, these new applications are much more software agnostic than in the past (all that is needed is a decent web browser) so new operating systems are getting a look in.
Motorola led the way with their Rugged Android based tablet, the ET1 and Unitech has now stepped in with the TB100 tablet, also using Android.
The TB100, being a more recent introduction, uses a later version of Android – 3.2 compared to the 2.3.4 in the Moto tablet. Both are a bit behind though (as seems to have always been the case with Windows Mobile devices as well) since Google has recently announced Android 4.1.
In any event, Unitech seems to have come up with a pretty decent tablet at a slightly lower price than Moto’s offering. A fast processor, 1GB of RAM and 16GB of built-in memory are a good start.
I like the 7 inch display size. I’ve never bought an iPad because I think its larger size makes it a too cumbersome to carry around all the time – if and when I buy a tablet for personal use, it is way more likely to be close to the 7 inch size. I think Moto and Unitech have both got it right with this. The TB100 has a slightly higher resolution, although how much that would be noticeable in use remains to be seen.
Both Moto and Unitech offer WLAN and Bluetooth connectivity on their devices – the Bluetooth being the most practical way to connect barcode scanners, although both offer USB ports as well that could be used. Unitech has the edge with a WWAN option, allowing data connections outside of the local network.
It’s great to see another Android device appear for the industrial market. With its Gorilla glass display, IP65 rating and being tough enough to throw around, the TB100 looks to be a good contender.
Which would I buy the ET1 or the TB100? Good question! I don’t believe either is made in the US – would be a simple choice if one was. I’d say that at the moment, the edge is with Unitech – newer Android and mobile data connectivity appealing to me.
Of course, these are first generation models and there are bound to be new more capable versions in the not too distant future. It will be interesting to see how this market develops.