Motorola adds HSDPA to tough handheld

By Peter Judge, Techworld.com |  Mobile & Wireless, HSDPA, Motorola

Motorola has added fast HSDPA to its line of rugged enterprise handhelds, in a new model, which it says will give workforces continuous connectivity.

As well as fast data, the MC75 also has GPS navigation assisted by cell-tower location, it can read bar code data, and has a good enough (two megapixel) color camera to capture A4 or A5 documents. It also has a full VGA screen, instead of the QVGA screen on previous semi-rugged MC-series devices.

This makes it suitable for markets such as roving service engineers where the MC range is already doing well, despite a high purchase price, according to Andy McBain, U.K. product manager for Motorola's enterprise mobility business. "Customers have tried the shiny consumer devices, and the total cost of ownership doesn't add up," he said. "There are other rugged devices from companies like Intermec and Psion, but there isn't a player with all these features in one device."

The MC75 costs from US$1,800, though a "fully loaded" device would be as much as $3,000. It is guaranteed to be serviceable and replaceable for four years, and is hardened, but not as tough as its "really rugged" devices, like the MC9000 and the cellular MC70, which have done well with delivery companies and similar applications, selling around a 1.5 million units between them. "Last year, customers bit the bullet and went for mobile applications," he said, claiming that Motorola's EMB division grew twenty to 25 percent, with a 50 percent increase in WAN device sales.

In 2007, Motorola made a robust-but-not-rugged version of the MC70, and the MC75 now extends this to HSDPA mobile broadband - it also has Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. It runs Windows Mobile 6, but not yet version 6.1.

"The device is in beta with five customers in Europe, and we already have demand for the final product," said McBain.

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