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Things move incredibly fast in the mobile device arena. When the Motorola ES400 Enterprise Digital Assistant was released almost a year ago, Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 was not yet shipping, and was therefore not available as a platform for Motorola's smallest rugged mobile device to date.
Instead, the candy bar-style device uses Windows Mobile 6.5.3 Pro, which still looks like it would be most easily controlled by a mouse. Pity. Because when held up against the finger-friendly smart phone operating systems of today, using a stylus seems down right prehistoric. Then there's the ES400's 600MHz ARM 11 processor, which next to the dual-core Hummingbird 1GHz processor found in the latest Samsung Nexus S mobile phone, seemed sluggish and was often unresponsive to touches.
Still, the idea behind the ES400 was to enable the enterprise to provide its workers with a single device to perform any and all tasks that might be required. To that end, Motorola did a splendid job, both with hardware and software. The ES400 delivers a ton of functionality in a rugged and durable device that will make an ideal development platform for solution providers servicing health care, retail, field sales and service and many other industries.
For devices on the job, durability is critical. The ES400 is rated to withstand multiple drops and tumbles (MIL-STD 801G), and is built to repel dust, moisture and rain (IP42 ingress protection rating). Longer lasting devices reduce total cost of ownership and increase worker productivity and customer satisfaction. Even better is not to drop the unit at all, which testers believed was aided by the unit's rubberized grips all around.
A 3.2-megapixel auto-focus camera doubles as a digital imager and bar code scanner, capable of reading and decoding 1D and 2D codes. A dedicated scan button interrupts any application that's currently running and pops up a video window and shines its LED light on the code being scanned. Testers were impressed with the camera's ability to automatically focus quickly on the subject, and scan and decode the bar code. This is accomplished all within two to three seconds. The application that's doing this, called DataWedge, is disabled by default, as is the bar code reader itself. Both are activated in the Settings app.