Mobile Computer Basics
Mobile Computers for every industry

Mobile Computing Devices are small enough to hold and operate in the hand and have the functionality of your applications typically found on a desktop computer. Mobile computing today allows users to take their applications outside the office. They provide a keyboard or touchscreen interface, (or both). Mobile Computing technology allows transmission of data, voice and video via a computer or any other wireless enabled device without having to be connected to a fixed physical link. For help finding the right device to match your operating system or application, contact us.

Mobile Computer Types
How often does your inventory need to be checked? How much time will it take? How closely do you need to track work-in-progress? Would a deeper insight into my stock help me to become more profitable? Your last question should be how much will this cost. If you purchase a device and software that cannot grow with your company, you have just waisted your time and money. As of 2019 many product manufacturers' have made the change to Android as their operating platform because of its ease-of-use and security.

Standard Mobile Computers
Standard Mobile Computers do not have Wi-Fi or WAN (cellular) capabilities they collect retail inventory information via scan or keypad, and hold it in a basic text file. The device is then connected to a computer and batch information is uploaded, giving them the name "Batch Devices." They are ready to use out of the box.

Perfect for new business, inexpensive and easy to use.

We recommend: AML-TDX20, Unitech HT630, Cipherlabs 8000

Phone Size Computers
Not to be confused with the popular consumer-grade cell phone, rugged mobile devices are designed to survive the work environment. With these devices you will have options for Wi-Fi, WAN, Bluetooth, and even GPS connectivity. Great for field workers, delivery drivers, site managers, or any application outside the 4-walls of your business. A phone-size mobile computer fill the role of a laptop, phone, and scanner in a single device to empower your employees with the information and connectivity they need wherever business takes them.

Easy, convenient and recognizable interface makes the phone-size mobile computer very popular. Powerful options for voice, data, images and GPS tracking.

We recommend: Zebra TC26, TC51, TC52, TC56, Intermec CN80e

Rugged Tablets
Manufacturers’ have responded to the demand for a Tablet form factor by offering Rugged Tablet Computers, not to be confused with your kids iPad. Similar capabilities as the phone-size computers only in a larger size with the ever-popular touch screen interface. Commonly used for loading docks, warehouse, outdoor use and becoming popular in the retail industry.

Easy user interface with touch screen and large display. Good for warehouse and retail applications.

We recommend: Zebra ET51, Honeywell EDA70, Unitech TB160

Full Size Mobile Computers
Not to be confused with the popular consumer-grade cell phone, rugged mobile devices are designed to survive the work environment. With these devices you will have options for Wi-Fi, WAN, Bluetooth, and even GPS connectivity. Great for field workers, delivery drivers, site managers, or any application outside the 4-walls of your business. A phone-size mobile computer fill the role of a laptop, phone, and scanner in a single device to empower your employees with the information and connectivity they need wherever business takes them.

Popular with manufacturing and warehouse operarions. Powerful options for scanning, rugged rating, interface and ergonomic use factors.

We recommend: Honeywell CK75, AML 7225, Zebra TC8000

Gun-Grip Mobile Computers
Not to be confused with the popular consumer-grade cell phone, rugged mobile devices are designed to survive the work environment. With these devices you will have options for Wi-Fi, WAN, Bluetooth, and even GPS connectivity. Great for field workers, delivery drivers, site managers, or any application outside the 4-walls of your business. A phone-size mobile computer fill the role of a laptop, phone, and scanner in a single device to empower your employees with the information and connectivity they need wherever business takes them.

Popular with manufacturing and warehouse operations. Powerful options for scanning, rugged rating, interface and ergonomic use factors.

We recommend: Zebra 9300, Zebra TC8000, Honeywell CK75

Wearable Mobile Computers
Not to be confused with the popular consumer-grade cell phone, rugged mobile devices are designed to survive the work environment. With these devices you will have options for Wi-Fi, WAN, Bluetooth, and even GPS connectivity. Great for field workers, delivery drivers, site managers, or any application outside the 4-walls of your business. A phone-size mobile computer fill the role of a laptop, phone, and scanner in a single device to empower your employees with the information and connectivity they need wherever business takes them.

Increases productivity of any pick-and-pack industry.

We recommend: Zebra WT6000, WT41N0, Unitech PA700

Vehicle Mount Rugged Mobile Computers
Not to be confused with the popular consumer-grade cell phone, rugged mobile devices are designed to survive the work environment. With these devices you will have options for Wi-Fi, WAN, Bluetooth, and even GPS connectivity. Great for field workers, delivery drivers, site managers, or any application outside the 4-walls of your business. A phone-size mobile computer fill the role of a laptop, phone, and scanner in a single device to empower your employees with the information and connectivity they need wherever business takes them.

Rugged Computers are used by Police Departments, Industrial workers and anyone who needs extra processing power and years of worry-free use.

We recommend: Zebra-Motorola-VH10, Honeywell Thor VM1, AML Paladin

 

Basics

 

1. Mobile Computer Communications
The infrastructure put in place to ensure reliable communication can take place. These would include devices such as protocols, services, bandwidth, and portals necessary to facilitate and support the stated services. The data format is also defined at this stage. This ensures that there is no collision with other existing systems which offer the same service.

2. Mobile Computer Hardware
A large variety of devices with different form factors provide unique choices for every environment, from sales floor to shop floor and delivery trucks.

3. Mobile Computer Software
There are two major software platforms used today. Windows Embedded, Mobile and CE was the first software in the market. Many companies have been using Windows for years. As of 2019 Windows CE will no longer be supported and many new mobile devices use Android Software. Mac OS software can also be used with Sled attachments such as the Honeywell’s Captuvo for Apple iPods and iPads. They are however not ruggedized for industrial applications.

 

Where to Start...

 

1. Determine what you need
What exact insight into your inventory will help you becoem more profitable? How closely do you need to track work-in-progress?  Your last question should be about the cost. If you purchase a device and software that cannot grow with your company, you have just waisted your time and money.

2. Mobile Computer Hardware
What formats do you need the device to capture (data, voice, images, GPS)? Connecting directly to the main data base with mobile devices on the floor can provide a true picture of your stock, and help avoid inventory mistakes. Would cellular connection make sense for constant voice contact or web connections?

3. Mobile Computer Software
Employees' biggest concern about their devices are the scanner and the capture ability. This speaks directly to the quality of the device you purchase and the quality differs between models and how they work with yoru network.
Should the scanner be built in or will you use a rugged scanner to transfer data to a separate device?  Do you need a 2D imager that can scan over 20 feet? How rugged must it be? Would an active light, sound and vibration alert help guarantee a good scan? Is your wireless connection WLAN, Bluetooth or Cellular?
What form factor will best work for your employees? Would a tablet increase retail sales by showing your customers on the floor what is in stock an where it is? Ordering a similar product online from the sales floor is becoming very popular. Do you do a great deal of pick and pack? Would a wearable mobile computer with ring scanner help? Would RFID or RTLS be an option for real-time vision into your inventory?

 

Operating Systems for Mobile Computers
 

DOS/ Proprietary 
This OS options is only found on Basic mobile computers and is very limited. Unlike the other operating systems, these normally only run specific software provided by the device manufacturer or applications you would write yourself in programming languages like Visual Basic or C++. XXXXBarcode Factory offers this software creation service! Most users with mobile computers use the supplied simple data collection software. The AML TDX20 includes an easy to use application generator you configure on a desktop PC to create simple apps for the mobile device.

Windows Mobile, CE and Embedded A Windows based operating system has been the standard for many years because of its flexible options for a mobile computer. Most users will use a 3rd party application to write their software. The range of available software for a Windows based OS covers every application from inventory tracking to mobile point of sale. Windows Mobile is the more common OS and is found more in applications that will be using WAN (cellular) capabilities. Windows CE is less resource heavy, cheaper, and is often the preferred OS for developers making their own applications. 

Android
Support for Windows CE is ending by 2019, leaving the door open for the Android operating system. Major manufacturers’ have planned ahead with their new products and research is important before buying. The interface is being demanded by the public and certain devices will now handle both Windows and Android. 

Wireless Connectivity 
Every mobile computer can store information locally in its memory, most businesses will take advantage of wireless connectivity on a device. The ability to review, and update information in real-time allows a business to act faster and more effectively, maximizing the productivity of your workforce and expanding their capabilities. Several connectivity option are available, one or all may be needed.

WiFi 
This is the most common wireless connectivity for mobile computers and just like your wireless network at home, as long as you are within range of the network, you’ll have access to network resources. Wi-Fi is the perfect solution for applications that are at a fixed site where you control the network infrastructure, like access points and switches.

WAN 
Wide Area Network (WAN) access is the same cellular technology you find in your cellphone. Mobile computers with WAN capabilities will be able to get online and/or make phone calls just like a smartphone does. The big advantage of WAN access is that your application can leave the constraints of a fixed network and get out into the world, allowing workers to receive tasks in the field, call-up resources (manuals, customer accounts, etc.), and send back orders to your main office all while on site. Unlike Wi-Fi, WAN radios are tied to a specific carrier-type. 

Bluetooth 
Bluetooth is a unique wireless technology that does not require network hardware to function. Its main purpose is to connect 2 devices to each other like a PC and a printer or scanner without cables. As long as both devices have Bluetooth capabilities they can wirelessly connect to each other. Bluetooth does have a limited range of about 33ft but requires very little set-up to use. With mobile computers, the most common use of Bluetooth is to connect to a printer wirelessly without having to deal with cables.

GPS 
Global Positioning System (GPS) is not exactly the same as the other wireless options since it is used only to get location information into the mobile computer. This is the same technology found in navigation systems in a car. GPS when it is combined with a WAN option it allows you to know where you’re located for functions like turn-by-turn directions, mapping, bread crumbing, and asset location tagging. GPS can help provide additional conveniences and information to field workers.

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