Tag: mobile inspection

Will Microsoft Make a Tablet Come Back?

Earlier this week all the tech blogs were ablaze with news about Microsoft Windows 8.  I personally read about 6 – 7 articles about their new operating system.  Before you get too excited, it’s not ready yet and will not be ready until some time next year (and I suspect later next year).  Yesterday Microsoft released a developer preview for software engineers to download and start playing around with.  By far the best article, and the one I agree with the most was entitled “Sorry Apple, Windows 8 ushers in the post-pc era“.  The author captured my exact feelings about the current state of tablets right now.  Good for certain tasks, not for others.

Good for Inspection Software

The current generation of tablets are great for tasks that are intended to be conducted in the field as well as casual computing and note taking.  Job site audits are a great example of a task that works great on a tablet device.  In general, inspections and quality assurance tasks are something that works very well with tablets.  That being said, wouldn’t it be great if you were using your tablet to run your safety inspection software and then you could have full PC functionality to work on that whitepaper or proposal?

Bad for Writing Essays

Have you ever tried to write a long document on a tablet computer such as the iPad?  It just isn’t that suitable for that type of task (in my opinion).  Sure, some people will argue that you can get a keyboard for it and some sort of app for Word documents, but it’s not ideal for power computing.  Let’s assume you could squeeze out a simple Word document.  How about running Photoshop?  Not happening.

What Windows 8 could (hopefully) represent is 1 platform to rule them all.  A great tablet user interface and a form factor that would allow me to run all of my full featured applications is something I would pay for in a heart beat.  It may be just what Microsoft needs to get back in the tablet game.

Device Preview: Samsung Galaxy NOTE

As you can probably tell from my blog posts, I LOVE new gadgets. With the world of field service devices coming very close to the consumer side of things, many consumer oriented devices can transition well to mobile inspections. I’d like to introduce you to the Samsung Galaxy NOTE. The most noticeable feature is the screen size. At 5.3 inches, this thing is huge but still small enough to carry around for everyday use. Despite its large screen the phone is only 0.38 inches thin and weighs 6.3 ounces. That is key for this superphone-tablet hybrid. Also inside this beast is a dual core 1.4Ghz processor for blindingly fast power and an 8MP camera for awesome pictures.

The feature that will have the biggest impact is the stylus. Even though it doesn’t need a stylus, the stylus can be used for writing notes and adding detail to pictures and calendar items. This has the potential to become the greatest dual purpose device for mobile inspections now that most companies prefer to give employees one device instead of two. Take a look at the promotional video from Samsung below.

R.I.P. HP iPAQ 210 – The End of a Legend

I realize the title of this blog may be seem a bit dramatic to some of our readers.  The HP 210 is a “legend”?  Really?  Well, saying that the 210 is a legend may be a bit of a stretch, but the iPAQ family of products as a whole should definitely be considered legendary.  Years before the word iPhone was familiar to the general public, HP was cranking out PDAs for our mobile computing pleasure.  The iPAQ was one of the last PDAs with no phone capabilities released by HP.  The reason that I consider this device a legend is because of how many safety inspections our customer recorded on the device.

Good Looks

HP iPAQ 210

I know that picture does not look good to you because you are staring at your slick Blackberry or iPhone on your desk while reading this blog.  Take it from me, when this device was originally released (I believe in 2007) it’s shiny black bezel and chrome accents made me feel like it was a slick device.  Not to mention, it was a great looking upgrade from the older HP iPAQs.

Full Featured

Nice screen, fast, SDIO slot for expansion – the HP iPAQ 210 had it all.  The 210 was powered by a Marvell XScale PXA310 624 MHz CPU with 128 MB of RAM and 256 MB of ROM.  Bluetooth and 802.11 b/g provided some easy wireless options.  ActiveSnyc over Bluetooth was a life saver in many trade shows and presentations.  All of this at a price under $500 made this device an amazing bang for the buck.

Served its Purpose

The HP iPAQ 210 is officially discontinued, and we are no longer selling it.  This device has served us well over the years.  Our customers have recorded thousands of fire extinguisher inspections, sling inspections and safety audits.  The ability to add an RFID reader to the top SDIO slot made this device even more useful.  We have many other devices to take the place of the 210 (such as the Motorola ES400), and are starting to look at other platforms as well.

3 Tips to keep your Motorola ES400 Running Smoothly

One of the most popular devices here at Field ID is the Motorola ES400. From its easy to handle from factor to its price point, companies that use inspection software love it. Being semi-rugged and having an interface similar to existing phones, this device sells itself. Unfortunately, like all technology, it sometimes becomes slow and will decide on its own that today you will get nothing done. To avoid this frustration below are a few quick tips to keep your ES400 running like a well-oiled machine.
  1. Reboot your device at least once a week. Performing a cold boot (pressing keys 1, 9 & Power simultaneously) clears the flash memory and shuts down all programs. This is a good way to refresh the device.
  2. Close open programs. If your device is a bit sluggish but you don’t want to restart your device, open up the Task Manager and close the programs that you don’t need at the moment.
  3. Optimize battery performance. To make your battery lasts longer set the sleep time in the power settings to make the screen dim or suspend when not in use. Also you can turn off the Bluetooth, WiFi and Phone radios by going to the Wireless Manager as these drain your battery quite a bit.

Intrinsically Safe Devices and how they Increase Safety

Intrinsically Safe Logo

In field service a rugged mobile device is a key investment. But what if your environment is hazardous? What then? To meet this need there are devices that meet standards to prevent combustion.  These devices are termed as Intrinsically Safe. What this means is that these devices are especially designed and tested to ensure they do not initiate an explosion due to arcing contacts or high surface temperature of equipment.

The most common classification that intrinsically devices in North America fall into are Class 1 Div 1 and Class 2 Div 2. Devices in these classes are protected against causing ignition in an environment where ignitable gases, vapors or liquids are present.

As you might have guessed, intrinsically safe devices are going to cost you more, but you can’t put a price on safety. We have a lot of Field ID users using intrinsically safe devices to conduct audits and safety inspections in sensitive locations such as nuclear facilities and offshore oil rigs.  There are some devices that are built specifically for this purpose like the i.roc.  There are some manufacturers that will take an existing device (like the Motorola MC75A) and make it intrinsically safe.

No matter what your operating environment is there is a device available for you to use for your mobile inspections.

Unboxing the Motorola ES400: A New Field ID Handheld Device

New to our office is the much anticipated ES400 by Motorola. The goal from Motorola was to make an enterprise device with a form factor that could pass as an everyday smart phone. The ES400 has a 600MHz processor, QWERTY keyboard and a IP42 rating. With a built-in bar code scanner and camera, it is a great all-around device.

A full review will be forthcoming but here is the unboxing and our first impressions of the device.

The Motorola ES400 Enterprise Digital Assistant – A Great New Inspection Device

Checkout this great new handheld from Motorola. We are hoping to get our hands on one soon!