Varlink’s Meet the Manufacturer event is firmly established in the field service calendar. Mark Glover attended the event, held at Leicester City Football Club, to see the latest rugged devices and meet those who play a key role at the...
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Varlink’s Meet the Manufacturer event is firmly established in the field service calendar. Mark Glover attended the event, held at Leicester City Football Club, to see the latest rugged devices and meet those who play a key role at the gathering...
In 2016 and against all odds Leicester City Football Club provided one of the great stories and, indeed shocks, in world sport by winning the English Premier League. When the Midlands team finally lifted the championship trophy at their home ground, The King Power Stadium in May that year, few could believe their achievement, the feat made all the more remarkable that only 18 months prior they were eyeing a potential relegation to the league below.
As a long-suffering football fan - I support West Ham - Leicester’s plight gave us smaller teams hope; that the goliaths of Manchester City and Chelsea can be overcome; that it’s not all about rich chairman and money; that fairytales do come true. You’ll have to forgive my tenuous diversion here. I’m conscious the focus of this piece is not football but on discovering the venue for Varlink’s Meet the Manufacturer (MTM) event would be the King Power Stadium - an event my editor sent me to cover - then you’ll allow me the misty-eyed opening paragraphs.
That said, in service, there is much talk of disruption and how companies should look to challenge what’s gone before in order to evolve and stay ahead and in a way, Leicester’s title winning season could be seen as the ultimate ‘disruption’ to the league’s status-quo and rigid hierarchy, and while the team haven’t joined the elite ranks of super clubs (Manchester City, Chelsea etc.) they are now firmly established as a Premier League side both financially off the pitch and with their performances on it.
Disruption meanwhile in hardware, specifically hardware in service is not as frequent, which doesn’t mean it’s not evolving; far from it. Service software providers – quite rightly - are extremely reticent in altering their hardware foundation as Mike Pullon CEO of Varlink explains. “A company that writes software for a niche, field service opportunity, whatever it is, is actually far more focused on their own business and the need to change is often driven out of necessity rather than any great desire,” he says. “When you’re writing your software, you’re enhancing your software, you’re taking care of business, you’re looking after your customers. The last thing you want to do is change the hardware platform you use.”
Mike founded Varlink in 2005. The company, a leading distributor of barcoding and data capture and EPOS products, feeds the service industry with rugged devices and hardware. Now in its 14th year, the firm’s annual MTM event serves to bridge the gap between customer and manufacturers, which today includes, among others, Zebra, Honeywell and Data Logic. Given the longevity of the event, I ask why it is so important for customers to see and experience the devices on show.
“Where do they go for their knowledge?” he asks. You go to the internet, you look at some websites and you actually find one product looks much the same as another. You don’t get a chance to feel the weight, feel the quality. It sounds really basic, but you know, until you hold one of those devices...where are the buttons positioned? How tactile is the screen? What’s the robustness? What’s the resilience? What are the charging options? So there are no UK shows that bring as many specialist, some might say niche, manufactures together.”
Mike suggests marketing emails and tweets replacing conversation between manufacturer and a specialist systems company, particularly those in niche verticals – which service tends to operate in – is missing the mark, creating a space for the event. “The communication between a hardware manufacturer and a specialist systems company, somebody providing for a particular vertical, has become stretched,” he says.
“There’s an assumption that email communications are going to carry the message about product, technology, opportunities to a customer base that’s just waiting for that communication. The last few years we’ve seen the slimming down of that conversation.”
Among the larger, big-name manufacturers such as the aforementioned Zebra, Honeywell and Datalogic and Janam Technologies. They produce operating system platforms and rugged hardware which they distribute to a reseller or software house to tailor, for example, a picking or delivery task. Robert Hurt is the firm’s EMEA General Manager and we find a quiet corner, among the beeps of demos and buzz networking, to discuss the company’s philosophy.
“Our approach is to provide people with a business tool that will work for as long as we can possibly keep it going,” he says, “and we’ll provide a service for as long as we’re able to obtain the components in order to do that. The differentiation for us is about providing a level of service.”
Compared to their consumer counterparts, rugged devices have a longer life. Failing batteries which are built in to ubiquitous Samsung and Apple smartphones are the common cause of failure and ring fence the two year turn around in buying habits. Having removable batteries in rugged devices means hardware can last a lot longer and keep the service technician active with the same device. “If you’re out on the road, you might not get to base for a couple of days,” Robert explains. “So we have removable batteries, which means you can take a spare battery and pop in this replacement battery. You can’t do it with an Apple phone and you can’t do it with a Samsung phone because it’s sealed giving it a limited life. We are still servicing and supporting devices we installed 10 years ago. They’re running simple business applications such as receiving a task and taking a signature, but it does the job.”
Janam do the vast majority of their business with re-sellers, who are a key demographic of visitors to MTM. I ask Robert how important the event is to the firm. “Every meeting, every conversation is worthwhile,” he tells me, “Everybody you meet is somehow connected to the industry, either as a supplier or as a customer or a reseller. We’ve been coming for as long as I’ve been at Janam. It’s always an interesting venue and an enjoyable thing to do.”
I shake hands with Robert, turn off my dictaphone and sip the final dregs of my coffee. Heading for the exit, I catch a glimpse of the football pitch, a bright, lush green that looks as smooth as a bowls lawn. Robert’s right. This is an interesting venue and I’m already looking forward to next year’s MTM event. For now, though, I’ll continue to believe that my team West Ham might one day perform the same miracles as Leicester and I have Varlink to thank for giving me that hope!
Sep 12, 2018 • Features • Hardware • XM75 • Enterprise Mobility • field service • field service technology • Handheld Computing • hardware • janam • rugged hardware • Service Management • Drop Test • Field Service Hardware • PR Rating
We recently gave Janam’s XT100 handheld computer a full Hands-On review and now we turn our attention to its sibling the XM75 which shares mostly the same specifications but comes in a different form factor...
We recently gave Janam’s XT100 handheld computer a full Hands-On review and now we turn our attention to its sibling the XM75 which shares mostly the same specifications but comes in a different form factor...
In March earlier this year, Janam announced two new handheld computers to their range - the XT100 and the XM75. Inside the guts of both devices are almost identical but there are some slight differences and of course, the XM75 occupies a different form factor, more geared towards data input with a 24 key numeric keypad and also a purpose-built trigger handle available as well.
Having given the XT100 a rigorous hands-on review when it launched we thought we should also get it’s sibling into our offices to compare the two and to see which workflows each device would be more suited to.
What the manufacturers say:
Pocketable, Powerful Tough.
Janam’s XM75 rugged mobile computer makes it easy to capture business-critical information accurately and efficiently. As one of the only devices specially designed for input-intensive applications, the XM75’s compact form factor combined with larger keypad design delivers the ideal solution for organizations that want an easy-to-use keypad and large touchscreen in the same device.
The XM75 is sealed to IP67 standard against dust and immersion in up to 3 feet of water. It can withstand multiple 5’/1.5m drops to concrete per MIL-STD 810G across a wide temperature range...
Pocketable and powerful, the XM75 supports the enterprise-ready Android operating system with Google Mobile Services and meets all the requirements of the most demanding environments, including transportation, logistics, route accounting, direct store delivery and field service.
Weighing only 10.5 ounces, the XM75 is one of the lightest yet most rugged devices in its class and is packed with advanced features to boost productivity, streamline operations and improve the customer experience. Offering 4G LTE, Wi-Fi, GPS and Bluetooth, the XM75 provides lightning fast and reliable access to voice and data applications inside the enterprise and out in the field.
The XM75 is sealed to IP67 standard against dust and immersion in up to 3 feet of water. It can withstand multiple 5’/1.5m drops to concrete per MIL-STD 810G across a wide temperature range. A standard 2-year warranty provides customers with both peace of mind and the level of service they require, at no additional cost, with optional Comprehensive Service plans available to those that want to further extend their mobile computing investment.
The XM75 does pretty much what you would expect of it - for those that read our previous review of the XT100 for all intents and purposes, it is an XT100 with a keyboard instead of just the capacitive screen.
This does, of course, make the device’s footprint slightly larger (76.83mm x 166.01mm x 29.27mm for the XM75 vs 70mm x 136mm x 17.4mm) which subsequently, of course, adds additional weight to the device as well and it comes in at a full 3oz heavier than the XT100 making it about 30% heavier.
"The device is far from in heavy even when strapped into the trigger handle (which is itself surprisingly light) and both in and out of the trigger we found the device to be ergonomic and comfortable..."
That said the device is far from in heavy even when strapped into the trigger handle (which is itself surprisingly light) and both in and out of the trigger we found the device to be ergonomic and comfortable.
All in all the XM75 feels very much as it is intended to, a robust yet relatively lightweight handheld designed with the factory, warehouse or field worker in mind.
But ist there more to the differences between the XM75 and XT100 other than form factor?
In terms of processing power, the two devices are identical with bot the XM75 and the XT100 having a 1.2 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon™ 410 quad-core. In terms of the market for similar devices as to the Janam offerings, these offer a fairly standard amount of processing power.
They both also come with 2GB RAM and 16GB ROM as standard. Again this sits pretty much in the middle of the pack in terms of similar devices and is definitely suitable for a number of field service applications.
Also, the memory in both devices is expandable via a user accessible Micro SD slot with SD and SDHC support – which can become a very useful option for engineers who need to record a lot of data, or even for those who work in offline environments regularly where locally storing asset maintenance information to aid a first time fix could be of benefit.
The XM75 is currently running Android 6 (Marshmallow) - which is a perfect option for industry, focused devices and as such is also on the XT100.
"The XM75 is currently running Android 6 (Marshmallow) - which is a perfect option for industry, focused devices and as such is also on the XT100..."
Whilst the latest consumer devices are now running Android 8 (Oreo) and some even beginning to see Android 9 (Pie) - in a world of enterprise the need for a robustly road-tested OS is hugely important. Marshmallow is currently the most advanced iteration of the OS that also has the stability required for enterprise-grade computing so a sensible option for both devices.
The Ins & Outs:
As with another of Janam’s handheld computers former flagship device the XT2, Neither the XM75 nor XT100 have a huge array of physical input options – but this can’t really be avoided in a device of such a size.
However, both devices benefit from good ergonomic design of in terms of the placement of hard keys are configurable but whose primary role would be most certainly be engaging the dedicated barcode scan engine (Honeywell N6603 2D Imager) which incidentally was both fast and effective in our tests of the XM75.
Of course, one of the major differences between the two is that the XM75 also has the optional trigger handle which offers yet another hard key and makes the device super easy for any role that requires a high volume of scanning.
The other significant difference between the devices then is also the 24 key numeric keypad which certainly appears to be well made, with the keypad having both a reassuring feel of durability to it as well as offering that important tactile feel that simply cannot be overlooked when a workflow involves inputting short text and numbers frequently within a workflow.
Another nice touch with regards to the keypad is that it is backlit. It is these little details that can make a huge difference if, for example, your field staff are working in a dark location - and it is the mark of a good manufacturer that doesn’t skip these small but important details.
When we reviewed the XT100 we pointed out that whilst the XT100 holds its head high with good rugged credentials albeit slightly less so than its sibling the XT2. The XM75 however, has the higher rugged credentials of its elder cousin.
"The XM75 also boasts of a higher IP rating than the XT100 with a rating of IP67 meaning that it is even less susceptible to water ingress than the IP65 rated XT100..."
Whilst the XT100 is capable of withstanding multiple drops at a respectable 1.2m the XM75 has been tested at the higher drop height of 1.5m and in our testing, it survived such drops without a scratch. In fact, we even tested it in and out of the trigger handle and throughout our entire series of tests it only ever came out of the handle once - a good sign is given that the XM75 will almost invariably be used primarily within the handle.
The XM75 also boasts of a higher IP rating than the XT100 with a rating of IP67 meaning that it is even less susceptible to water ingress than the IP65 rated XT100.
When it comes to operating temperature ranges both the XM75 and the XT100 operate within a range of -20 to 60 degrees centigrade – which means that even in the most inhospitable environments the device should function effectively, and in terms of humidity they are both is non-condensing up to 95%. Finally, the capacitive touchscreen boasts toughened Corning Gorilla Glass 3 to further add to the devices robust credentials.
In terms of battery life the SM75 again just edges out the XT100 with its 4100mAh rechargeable Li-ion battery compared to the XT100’s 3000mAh 3.8v rechargeable Li-ion battery.
"Both devices should be capable of seeing out most field service engineers working days, especially if the device is placed in an in-vehicle charging cradle in between jobs..."
This is of course, likely to be the result of Janam taking advantage of the slightly larger form factor, but it certainly does make a difference. We found that the XM75 held battery life across an 8 hour day of reasonable to heavy usage considerably better than the XT100. When we reviewed the XT100 and ran it through our tests the battery was finished the day on 14%. The same tests for the XM75 saw the battery level at the end of the day at 27% so this is certainly a factor to be considered if your field workers tend to work longer hours on occasion.
That said, both devices should be capable of seeing out most field service engineers working days, especially if the device is placed in an in-vehicle charging cradle in between jobs. However, for those engineers who are required to spend long days in one location, a four-slot battery charger is an optional accessory.
When we reviewed the XT100 a few months back we praised it as a solid mid,-market handheld computer that was particularly elegant and comfortable in hand and was remarkably light for a rugged device.
Similar things could be said for the XM75 although when it comes to roles where there is a large amount of scanning or field completion then the XM75 becomes the choice between the two. Similarly, if your field staff are in slightly more rugged environments, the XM75 just edges its close sibling with slightly better-rugged credentials.
However, both are a solid choice for field service organisations looking to empower their field workers with handheld mobile computers powerful enough for the job, rugged to survive yet with a light footprint.
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Janam Technologies LLC, a leading provider of rugged mobile computers that scan barcodes and communicate wirelessly, announced today that it has been named 2018 Manufacturer of the Year by Varlink.
Janam Technologies LLC, a leading provider of rugged mobile computers that scan barcodes and communicate wirelessly, announced today that it has been named 2018 Manufacturer of the Year by Varlink.
This marks the second consecutive year (and third time overall) that Janam has won this prestigious award.
Varlink’s Manufacturer of the Year award honors partner excellence and Varlink’s thriving relationship with a mobile computing manufacturer. The award recognizes a supplier that demonstrates year-over-year business growth and the ability to always deliver innovative products and superior service and support.
Earning the Manufacturer of the Year award is a testament to the strength of Janam’s relationship with Varlink and the added value the company brings to the mobile computing market. As a top performing business partner, Janam plays a critical role in Varlink’s ability to deliver best-in-class solutions to its customers.
Varlink presented long-term partner Janam with the Manufacturer of the Year award during its recent Meet the Manufacturer event. This exciting annual event brings together leading hardware manufacturers with IT resellers, solution providers and system integrators to explore the best ways to address enterprise customers’ business challenges.
Partnerships prosper when both companies are committed to excellence. Our strong relationship with Varlink is a driving force behind the significant business growth we have both achieved over the past yearAs a leading Value Added Distributor of mobile computing hardware, Varlink is committed to helping manufacturers like Janam expand their reseller base and grow their business in the U.K.
Robert Hurt, General Manager, EMEA, Janam Technologies comments “Partnerships prosper when both companies are committed to excellence. Our strong relationship with Varlink is a driving force behind the significant business growth we have both achieved over the past year. Janam is honoured to be recognized two years in a row by Varlink for our unwavering focus on innovation and for delivering highly-competitive offerings.”
Meanwhile, Mike Pullon, CEO, Varlink added “Varlink recognizes that the service that we give to our customers is heavily reliant on the relationships that we have with our vendors. Our Manufacturer of the Year award goes to a vendor that has excelled in developing our relationship. We were delighted to present an award to Janam in recognition of their commitment to building an outstanding partnership and for bringing Varlink into significant opportunities that they have cultivated.”
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Varlink, the York-based mobile computing and data capture specialist distributor, is pleased to announce Janam’s newest rugged mobile computers, the XT100 and the XM75, and are now available on its website.
Varlink, the York-based mobile computing and data capture specialist distributor, is pleased to announce Janam’s newest rugged mobile computers, the XT100 and the XM75, and are now available on its website.
These devices give end users the choice between touchscreen only and touchscreen and keypad functionality, providing more flexibility for organisations that require a purpose-built device for its mobile workforce.
Offering more features and functionality, than any other device in its class, the Android-based XT100 device exceeds its competition. Delivering the latest enterprise-grade technologies in an enticing package, the XT100 has an extremely attractive price point. Packed with the power and performance of an industrial rugged mobile computer, the pocket-sized device has a 4.3” display and sleek smartphone-like design, making it stand out against visually bulky mobile devices.
Withstanding multiple 1.2-meter drops to concrete and obtaining a sealed IP65 rating for protection against water, dust and extreme temperatures, the XT100 is built to survive in demanding environments. The rugged mobile device provides reliable performance in every industry including, field service, warehouse, distribution, hospitality, retail and delivery.
Weighing only 298g, the Android-powered XM75 is one of the lightest yet most rugged devices in its class, as well as being packed with advanced features to accelerate workflows in every industry.The newest addition to Janam’s XM series, the XM75, gives mobile workers both touchscreen and keypad functionality in the same device. The 4.3” display device optimises productivity for organisations that require a flexible industrial mobile computer for capturing and processing business-critical data.
Weighing only 298g, the Android-powered XM75 is one of the lightest yet most rugged devices in its class, as well as being packed with advanced features to accelerate workflows in every industry.
Pocketable and powerful, the XM75 meets all the requirements of the most demanding environments, including field service, warehouse, and transport and logistics. With an IP67 sealing as well as the ability to withstand multiple 1.5-meter drops, the truly rugged mobile computer is built to survive extreme temperatures, shocks and exposure to elements.
Both Janam’s new releases have a standard 2-year warranty at no extra cost, providing customers with both peace of mind and a high level of service that is essential when purchasing business devices. There is also optional comprehensive service plans available for customers that want to further extend their mobile computing investment.
Varlink is a truly trusted partner to their customers because they build relationships, not just opportunities. The company believes in going the extra mile to support customers’ needs, offering more than they could ever expect, from Marketing services to Flexible Finance Facilities.
They also offer expert advice, support and even keep clients updated on the latest developments in the market. Offering all of the Janam device range, as well as the additional service plans and accessories, Varlink is the perfect solution for resellers when sourcing Janam.
For more information on Janam’s XT100 or XM75, visit our Janam product introduction page http://www.varlink.co.uk/fsn-janam-the-right-choice/
For pricing information, please contact the Varlink sales team on 01904 717180 or visit our website www.varlink.co.uk
View the full Janam range https://store.varlink.co.uk/janamrange
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May 15, 2018 • Features • Hardware • Gen2Wav • Panasonic • Reviews • XT100 • XT2 • field service • field service management • Field Worker Mobility • Getac • Hands On Review • HandsOn • janam • rugged
Our Hands-On review series returns as we continue to evaluate the best mobile technology designed with the field service engineer in mind. In the first review of 2018, we’ve got our hands on Janam’s XT100 - the stablemate of the XT2 which...
Our Hands-On review series returns as we continue to evaluate the best mobile technology designed with the field service engineer in mind. In the first review of 2018, we’ve got our hands on Janam’s XT100 - the stablemate of the XT2 which we found to be an excellent unit when we reviewed it back in September 2016...
The launch of Janam’s new rugged mobile computer the XT100 looks set to continue on the path that the company began walking along when they launched the XT1, which introduced a more modern form factor to their product line up.
When Field Service News reviewed the XT2 back in September 2016 we concluded that “all in all the XT2 is a fantastic option for any field service technician, it is a lightweight device and the programmable buttons could greatly improve work-flow in some areas. However, the XT2 is especially suited for those field technicians working in an environment where a fully rugged device becomes essential.”
So 18 months on how does the latest iteration of the XT range shape up?
What the manufacturers say:
Power. Performance. Price Advantage.
While smartphones have grown more popular in the enterprise, organizations still struggle with their poor fit and high failure rates when deployed in demanding work environments. Today’s mobile worker requires a rugged, purpose-built device that is capable of reliably and securely running line-of-business applications in the palm of the hand.
Eliminating the pitfalls and hidden costs associated with deploying consumer-grade devices in the enterprise, Janam’s XT100 rugged touch computer delivers the best of both business and personal. With more features and functionality than any other device in its class, the XT100 delivers the latest technological advances to organizations of all sizes at an extremely attractive price point.
As alluded to above when we last reviewed a device from Janam we were indeed highly impressed.
The XT2 had built upon the solid foundation that Janam held in their other rugged mobile computing ranges (notably the XM and XP ranges) by introducing a device with high-end specs both in terms of its ruggedity and its processing power that was housed in a form factor which adopted much of the feel of a consumer device.
Janam were by no means the first rugged manufacturer to follow this route with Getac, Panasonic, and Xplore amongst others, all following the trend of producing devices that blurred the lines between rugged and consumer – certainly from an aesthetic perspective at least. Indeed, there are strong arguments behind the reasoning for this shift, which in the main centre around an uptake in adoption rates amongst engineers when the devices they use in their working lies are similar to those that they use in their day-to-day consumer lives.
That said, with such a trend emerging amongst rugged manufacturers the need for Janam (or any of their peers) to ensure that their new range didn’t just look and feel good, but that they also maintained their credentials both in terms of the rugged value of the device as well as it’s potential use within an enterprise sector that values long battery life, high performance and perhaps most important of all reliability in mobile computing devices, was of huge importance.
This was very much in our thoughts when we reviewed the XT2, and the device passed all of our benchmarks with flying colours and on initial glance the XT100 acts and feels very much in a similar vein.
For a rugged device the XT100 is light. Really light.The XT100 does have a smaller and lighter footprint than its stablemate (which itself was able to boast of being lightest in its class when we reviewed it at launch.)
Janam appear to prefer to avoid comparing their devices with smartphones, referring to the XT range as the rugged touch computers, so they may not thank me for this, but in terms of the device in hand, the difference between the XT2 and the XT100 is most easily described as the difference between a phablet such as the Galaxy Note or iPhone Plus compared to a regular sized smartphone - with the XT100 falling into the latter bracket.
For a rugged device the XT100 is light. Really light.
At just 7.5 ounces (213 grams) the XT100 is lighter than both the Gen2Wave RT1600 and the Ruggex Rhino 3 (despite having a bigger screen than the latter as well). The profile of the phone is certainly chunkier than a regular consumer device of course, which is largely due to the inclusion of a dedicated barcode scanner but also to mention being sturdy enough to survive multiple 1.2m drops – which we will explore a little later.
Having booted up the device for the first time the device was quick to launch and the menus responsive and quick to access as we would have anticipated based on the performance of the XT2 in the previous review.
So how did the device fare during our hands-on review?
In terms of processing power, the XT100 comes with 1.2 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon™ 410 quad-core, which is pretty much in the same ballpark as the XT2’s MSM8916 CPU @1.2GHz. In terms of the market for similar devices as to the XT range these offer a fairly standard amount of processing power. It’s certainly true that this is still a wee bit short of devices such as Panasonic’s FZ-N1 (which runs a Qualcomm® MSM8974AB 2.3GHz Quad Core for example) but the XT100 should certainly be powerful enough to cope with the majority of field service related software that might be required for a service engineer’s day-to-day tasks.
The XT100 also comes with 2GB RAM and 16GB ROM as standard, unlike the XT2 where whilst these specs are available they are an upgrade option (from a 1GB/8GB standard option).
Again this sits pretty much in the middle of the pack in terms of similar devices and is definitely suitable for a number of field service applications. Also, as with the XT2 the memory is expandable via a user accessible Micro SD slot with SD and SDHC support – which can become a very useful option for engineers who need to record a lot of data, or even for those who work in offline environments regularly where locally storing asset maintenance information to aid a firsttime fix could be of benefit.
The XT100 is currently running Android 6 (Marshmallow), which is a perfect option for industry, focused devices. Whilst the latest consumer devices are now running Android 8 (Oreo), in a world of enterprise, the need for a robustly road-tested OS is hugely important. Marshmallow is currently the most advanced iteration of the OS that also has the stability required for enterprise-grade computing.
Additionally, there were two important inclusions in the Marshmallow iteration of the Android OS which could provide important benefits for use by field service operatives which were not included within the previous version of Android (Lollipop).
This makes Marshmallow a strong platform for field service organisations where the need for a mobile device to last the duration of a service engineer’s often long working day is essential.The first of these is an improved battery management feature, which utilises two solutions to extend battery life. These are Doze - which automatically puts your phone to sleep when not being used and App Standby which reduces the amount of battery drain form seldom-used apps.
This makes Marshmallow a strong platform for field service organisations where the need for a mobile device to last the duration of a service engineer’s often long working day is essential.
The second development in Marshmallow of interest in the context of the field service engineers is the ability to migrate data and applications to a MicroSD card. As we referenced earlier the XT100 has MicroSD memory expansion options which can be useful for field service engineers working offline or who are required to record a lot of supplementary data, so improving the functionality of file management is another welcome introduction to the Android OS.
In addition to this Marshmallow also remains the most widely used Android OS in the world of consumer devices as well according to the Android developer community website (last updated February 2018) so there is also the added benefit of the interface being likely to be familiar to end users which will also have big benefits on user adoption rates.
The Ins & Outs:
As with the XT2, the XT100 doesn’t have a huge array of physical input options – but this can’t really be avoided in a device of such a size. However, in terms of the physical inputs, the key essentials are all included and there are a number of excellent inclusions in terms of data capture functionality that mark out the XT100 as a well thought out device designed to be fit-for-purpose.
To begin with the basics, there is a 3.5mm headphone jack, which is, of course, is a hugely important inclusion, especially as remote support or engineer to engineer communication, is becoming increasingly common. There is a micro USB 2.0 port, which is there for charging and data syncing although the XT100 is also capable of wireless charging as well.
One of the core USPs and strengths of the whole Janam range is that their devices are designed for the industry and with their end-users workflow in mind.There are also two cameras, which are additionally useful for both data collection and video conferencing. The rear camera is 13MP and the front-facing camera is 4MP – which whilst neither being particularly groundbreaking in terms of resolution, are both absolutely fit for purpose.
However, one of the core USPs and strengths of the whole Janam range is that their devices are designed for the industry and with their end-users workflow in mind.
The XT100 has two additional hard keys (three including the power key), which by default trigger the XT100’s built-in barcode scanner which is the Honeywell N6603 2D Imager – which in our tests responded extremely efficiently and reliably.
Another inclusion which is hugely beneficial specifically for the field service engineer is the inclusion of a NFC/RFID reader (which reads Reads ISO14443 Type A; ISO14443 Type B & ISO15693; MIFARE UltraLight; MIFARE UltraLight C; MIFARE 1k/4k/Plus; MIFARE DESFire;MIFARE DESFire EV1; NFC in the 13.56MHz range). Again, within our tests, we found the XT100 was able to identify and read tags with easily and we had a 100% success rate during our tests of this functionality, finding the reader to have a good sensitivity.
Both of these inclusions are important as amongst other benefits they can allow the field service engineer to easily log spare parts moving in and out of the van – and given that tracking parts inventory remains a considerable challenge for many field service organisations, all solutions that can improve efficiency in this area are of course highly desirable.
Finally, there is a Pogo Connector at the bottom of the device, which can be used for charging within a cradle such as a vehicle dock.
When it comes to connectivity the XT100 supports the latest 802.11a/b/g/n/d/h/i/k/r/v protocols so accessing strong wi-fi connectivity speeds should be no issue and within our tests, the device was able to reach 50Mbps. The XT100 also supports EDGE/GPRS/GSM, WCDMA and LTE for 4G mobile internet and when tested with a moderate to strong 4G signal the device reached 18Mbps.
As one would expect with a device designed for the enterprise XT100 has robust security protocols (IEEE802.11; WEP; WPA/WPA2; PEAP/MSCHAPv2; EAP-TLS).
The XT100 also features Bluetooth 4.1 so can be paired with additional tools in the field including potentially Android Wear-based smartglasses, a keyboard for data input and of course Bluetooth headphones should the device be utilised for field service engineers receiving remote guidance.
Additionally, the device offers Qualcomm GPS which supports GLONASS so the device offers precise location tracking in the vast majority of locations across the globe, which can be invaluable to the field service organisation with regards to updating asset information as well as the adoption of geo-location functionalities within a field service technician’s workflow.
In terms of its ruggedity, the XT100 holds its head high with good rugged credentials albeit slightly less so than its sibling the XT2.
The XT100 is capable of withstanding multiple drops at 1.2m. The device also came with a clear hard plastic case to add additional protection from drops and knocks and survived our own drop testing with no issues.
The XT100’s IP rating is perhaps one area which is ever so slightly disappointing as having delivered the XT2 to an IP67 standard previously, Janam have opted to make the XT100 at the lower rating of IP65.
What this means, in reality, is the XT100 is impervious to dust ingress and largely resistant to water ingress although it is not fully submersible in water as an IP67 device would be. In reality, an IP65 rating should be sufficient for most field service environments although given the XT2’s more robust rating the difference should be noted and taken into account for those companies working in naturally wet environments such as perhaps certain waste management or water-based utilities sectors.
When it comes to operating temperature ranges the XT100 -20 to 60 degrees centigrade – which means that even in the most inhospitable environments the device should function effectively, and in terms of humidity it is non-condensing up to 95%. Finally, the capacitive touchscreen boasts toughened Corning Gorilla Glass 3 to further add to the devices robust credentials.
In terms of battery life, the XT100 comes with a 3000mAh 3.8v rechargeable Li-ion battery.
After an 8 hour day of reasonable to heavy usage the battery was at 14% so the device should be capable of seeing out most field service engineers working days, especially if the device is placed in an in-vehicle charging cradle in between jobs. However, for those engineers who are required to spend long days in one location, a four-slot battery charger is an optional accessory.
As with the XT2, the XT100 is, first of all, a fantastic looking device that feels great in hand and is sure to feel instantly familiar for end users.
For most tasks that a field service engineer would be likely to use on the device, the XT100 should have more than enough power under the hood to be up to the task.Whilst the XT100 doesn’t have quite the same protection against water ingress as the XT2 it should certainly be a rugged and robust enough device for most field service environments, with the possible exception of those engineers who will be working in potentially wet situations where the likelihood is that the device could be dropped and submersed into water.
In terms of processing power, the device is at a reasonable mid-range and performed well within our own tests, responding quickly with multiple apps open and offering strong connectivity to both Wi-Fi and 4G signals.
Whilst it is not at the very highest range of computational power within its category if your engineers are required to use an intensive CPU hungry app then one might question whether such a small form factor would be correct for your engineers anyway. However, for most tasks that a field service engineer would be likely to use on the device, the XT100 should have more than enough power under the hood to be up to the task.
As with other Janam products the XT100 is clearly designed with the end users workflow in mind and the rapid performance and ease of access of both the NFC/RFID readers and the barcode scanner make this a great option for those engineers who are moving a lot of parts stock in and out of the van each day.
By introducing the XT100, Janam have taken the blueprint of excellence that they have established with the XT range as a whole and created one of the smallest rugged devices suited for field service to date.
The XT100 is an excellent addition to the range and certainly worthy of consideration for any field service organisation looking to update the mobile computing options with a sleek, lightweight yet robust device – this holds especially true for organisations that are currently running an older Android solution as the transition should be fairly seamless.
As we’ve alluded to across the article the similarities with the XT2 are as one might expect wide-ranging and the XT2’s slightly better-rugged credentials might still make it the pick for those organisations hose engineers are working in the most testing of environments, but what Janam have done with the introduction of the XT100 is deliver a device of similar standard to the impressive XT2 with an even lighter footprint giving field service companies another excellent additional option to choose from.
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As we see consumer-grade devices becoming increasingly more ruggedised with many high-end devices now being IP68 certified is there any need for field service companies to continue to invest in more expensive equivalents offered by specialist...
As we see consumer-grade devices becoming increasingly more ruggedised with many high-end devices now being IP68 certified is there any need for field service companies to continue to invest in more expensive equivalents offered by specialist rugged manufacturers?
As high-end consumer units become better rated (for example high-end Samsung phones have been IP68 for some time now) the question arises will rugged eventually die out as a category of mobile devices?
Tom Kost, Director of Product Marketing at Xplore Technologies is someone that firmly believes this won’t be the case.
As high-end consumer units become better rated the question arises will rugged eventually die out as a category of mobile devices?“Absolutely not,” he states. “There are dozens of companies offering what they call “rugged” devices and hope that those 6 letters will win the sale. Yet, a mobile device that claims to offer rugged protection via the addition of a Gorilla Glass screen or external rubber casing will never come close to offering the protection, power and performance of a device that’s engineered to be rugged to the core.”
“Simply making an otherwise fragile consumer device waterproof or dustproof (IP68-rated) does not make it a viable option for heavy field use, as “consumer rugged” brands want you to believe. Water and dust are not the only hazards threatening device reliability, data security or even worker safety, all of which matter to field service organizations. Deeming a tablet, laptop or handheld PC that will be used in professional environments as “rugged” using a single spec is not just risky, but irresponsible,” he asserts.
Jackson White, Business Development Director at Getac takes a slightly more measured approach to the relationship between consumer and rugged devices.
“Consumer and rugged device manufacturers are learning from each other and the categories certainly are converging,” he argues.
Consumer devices are becoming thinner, lighter and faster and industry is now demanding a more consumer-like experience with the aim of achieving better communication and productivity in the field.“Consumer devices are becoming thinner, lighter and faster and industry is now demanding a more consumer-like experience with the aim of achieving better communication and productivity in the field.”
However, he to feels that when it comes to professional use in the field rugged manufacturers still provide the better solutions.
“While everyday consumers would undoubtedly benefit from their devices being waterproof, off the shelf consumer devices would not survive the rigours of an eight hour plus shift for a three year period for field service professionals,” he comments.
“We’re seeing rapid innovation from rugged manufacturers where they’re focused on reducing size, weight (through the use of composite materials, for example) and power consumption, all while retaining rugged characteristics.”
“Rugged devices used by field workers not only have to withstand drops, shocks, vibrations, spillages and in some instances, chemicals, but they also need to provide data security and the power and battery life needed to ensure a reliable experience, allowing organizations who have digitized their processes to benefit from gains in efficiency and productivity.”
“Devices designed for mobile workers use batteries which are more powerful and can last eight to 10 hours. Connectivity is better with optimized antennas, so field service personnel can access and input data quicker, and more efficiently.
Touchscreen technology has dramatically improved, for example, Getac’s proprietary Lumibond® technology allows screens to be easily read in both very bright and dull environments, and used with finger, gloves and protective clothing, or stylus, even in the rain.”
Rugged accounts for 28% of enterprise device access, according to ‘CCS Insights IT Decision Maker Mobile Technology Survey, 2016’, and this number rises to 50% in industries such as construction, transportation and utilities.
These thoughts are also echoed by Robert Hurt, General Manager, EMEA with Janam.
Rugged on its own, is not enough in a real-world field service environment. True ruggedness is not just about IP ratings or rigorous testing “Rugged on its own, is not enough in a real-world field service environment. True ruggedness is not just about IP ratings or rigorous testing to ensure it can withstand frequent drops, tumbles and shocks across a wide temperature range. Rugged mobile computers offer features that enable the device to optimally perform well beyond the life expectancy of a consumer-grade device,” he adds.
“Features like reinforced displays to prevent breakages, large capacity and/or removable batteries and robust radios to provide secure and reliable connectivity and seamless roaming, have a positive impact on productivity and the bottom line.”
“If an organization requires data capture, a consumer device will not provide true barcode scanning technology. While a smartphone camera can scan a barcode, it doesn’t provide the same performance you receive from a scan engine, and certainly will disappoint when it comes to reading damaged or poorly printed barcodes.”
“Rugged smartphones have a short lifecycle and are not designed to last several years in a business environment. Purpose-built rugged mobile computers offer longer-term investment protection, backed-up by multi-year service plans to get you back up and running quickly if a unit does get damaged. At the end of the day, a rugged smartphone cannot replace a rugged mobile computer that was specially designed to run line-of-business applications in the enterprise.”
The point around device life expectancy is, of course, a valid one, especially when we consider the mission-critical importance of field service operations. However, with the price of consumer units, especially from regions like China, becoming so much lower than a rugged device – could a case be made for adopting an approach whereby organizations simply stock up on additional cheaper units as back up rather than fewer more reliable, but more expensive rugged units?
“First off, a “rugged” tablet that is far less expensive that its competition is most likely far less rugged,” comments Kost.
“Consider the resources it will require to replace knock-off “consumer rugged” devices when they fail (and they will) along with the downtime losses that will occur while that worker is offline. This isn’t just about the sticker price of the replacement device, either. You have to factor the cost of labour required to re-order, re-configure, re-secure and redeploy the new device, all while your field worker is “down” and customers aren’t serviced.”
“Multiply that by 100 or 10,000 employees and you’ll see how hard it is to justify the few hundred dollars you may save per device up front on a “cheaper” device. Then factor the costs related to deploying the right workflow software, compatible accessories, and ultimately the security and maintenance of the entire mobility/IT solution for 3-5 years.”
It’s risky to do an upfront cost comparison for consumer and rugged mobile devices; rather businesses need to take a long-term view of total cost of ownership for a deviceWhite also concurs with this premise.
“It’s risky to do an upfront cost comparison for consumer and rugged mobile devices; rather businesses need to take a long-term view of total cost of ownership for a device,” he says.
“Despite generally being cheaper at the offset, consumer devices will quickly fail in environments outside of the office, which not only leads to higher replacement and service costs, but also to inefficiencies, disruptions in productivity, penalties from missed service level agreements but most importantly end-user frustration and loss of confidence in systems and process. While consumer devices tend to have a usable life of around 18 to 24 months, in testing field environments, this could be as short as a few weeks.”
“Rugged devices are built to last. For example, Getac devices are built from the ground up and components are assured for up to five years. In the unlikely event of damage, it offers a ‘bumper-to-bumper’ accidental damage warranty free of charge.”
“VDC recently reported that consumer devices are 3x more likely to fail within the first year,” adds Hurt.
“We’ve worked with many customers that initially deployed consumer-grade devices. After 6-12 months they came to us because the devices couldn’t survive – and the downtime and repair costs of the consumer device quickly ate up the initial savings associated with deploying a smartphone. Not only did these customers experience crippling downtime, but they couldn’t get the same level of service and support that comes with purchasing and deploying a rugged mobile computer.”
“Cheaper devices don’t offer all the features and functionality enterprises require, nor do consumer manufacturers offer the same range of optional accessories workers need to support various applications,” he adds.
You may pay a bit more in the short term for a purpose-built device, but you save in the long term when you take into consideration the costs associated with device downtime and frequent replacement costs“You may pay a bit more in the short term for a purpose-built device, but you save in the long term when you take into consideration the costs associated with device downtime and frequent replacement costs when the consumer device simply can’t survive the rigours of the enterprise.”
With this in mind, it would appear that whilst having hardware that is fit-for-purpose is an important factor in why field service organizations continue to turn to rugged manufacturers, the true value in working with an enterprise level hardware provider is as much about their understanding of your workflows and needs as it is about their hardware.
“Many technology resellers and OEMs are simply going to deliver a package to your door and walk away, leaving you to figure out the “solution”. That’s why you must partner with a true enterprise-level mobile solution provider that understands the specialized needs of your industry and business and knows how to overcome common pain points,” Kost comments.
“They can expertly identify which mobile components are compatible with your current IT environment. And, they are best-equipped to integrate the entire mobility solution in a way that bridges legacy and future systems without disrupting workers and workflows. For example, at Xplore, we think beyond the platform to ensure every component of our rugged mobility solutions – from the core of the rugged computer to the mounting hardware, connectivity, security, software and accessories – is compatible with customers’ other tech systems and complementary to workers’ existing business processes and the physical work environment.”
It is this ability to understand workflows that White believes is the key differentiator between consumer and specialist providers also.
“Rugged manufactures can add value by having a deep understanding of specific industry workflows practices and process. It’s also important for them to work closely with customers to understand individual requirements so devices can be customized accordingly,” he comments.
Hurt is also on the same page here as well. “Companies like Janam work closely with a broad range of customers, resellers and ISVs and understand the requirements to support workflows across industries. We specially design our devices to survive all day, everyday use in tough environments. We work closely with our customers to deliver a device that meets the specific needs of their organization, as we understand that the consumer “one size fits all” model doesn’t work for companies running demanding line-of-business applications.”
However, making the decision to opt for rugged devices over consumer is only the first step in identifying the devices right for your field engineers. The rugged sector, though niche, remains highly competitive. So what should a company look for in a rugged hardware provider?
“You need to choose a solution provider that not only has the technology, but the resources, agility and know-how to quickly solve your complex business problems,” explains Kost.
You need to choose a solution provider that not only has the technology, but the resources, agility and know-how to quickly solve your complex business problems“You should never feel as though the hardware provider is trying to shoehorn in a device, and be wary of those that push ‘one-size-fits-all’ mobile computers or mobility bundles. Also, confirm platform expandability. Ensure the device can support OS, storage and memory upgrades. This provides operational flexibility and extends the life of the current software, security, and back-office systems, lowering the cost of IT training/support.”
“Businesses should consider a number of factors when choosing a hardware provider to work with,” comments White.
“Sector knowledge and experience with the ecosystem associated with the device are key as is the ability to customize and tailor devices. Warranties and after sales care are also extremely important,” he explains.
“It’s also important to find a hardware provider that is interested in a long-term partnership – not a quick sale,” Hurt adds. “We find customers want to work with someone that picks up the phone and is there to help resolve issues in real-time. Downtime equals frustration and loss of revenue – so look for a supplier who will be on hand, with local service, for the quickest turnaround.”
“Lastly, look for a hardware provider that works exclusively with best-of-breed partners that share a commitment to integrity, flexibility and responsiveness, especially when so many providers have lost sight of these vital attributes,” he concludes.
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Mar 26, 2018 • Features • Hardware • LabelMate • Lorien LIghtfoot • Mike Pullon • Zebra • Gen2Wave • hardware • Honeywell • IntelliTrack • janam • Jonathan Brown • Robert Hurt • rugged • Rugged Mobile • SBV • Varlink
Varlink, the specialist Mobile Computing, Auto ID and EPOS Distributor, held its 2018 Meet the Manufacturer (MTM) event on 15th March at Whittlebury Hall, Northamptonshire, where partners had the opportunity to meet resellers and to demonstrate...
Varlink, the specialist Mobile Computing, Auto ID and EPOS Distributor, held its 2018 Meet the Manufacturer (MTM) event on 15th March at Whittlebury Hall, Northamptonshire, where partners had the opportunity to meet resellers and to demonstrate and display their latest products and services. Now in its 13th year, MTM has become a key date in the diary for resellers and suppliers alike.
This year the event was sponsored by Janam, a leading provider of rugged mobile computers. Janam unveiled two new products at MTM, including the XT100. The XT100 rugged touch computer eliminates the pitfalls associated with deploying consumer-grade devices and packs the power and performance of a rugged mobile computer in a slim smartphone design to meet the diverse needs of mobile workers across field service. This device provides more features and functionality than any other device in its field.
Robert Hurt, Janam General Manager EMEA, said of the event: “This year’s MTM was especially successful for us. The event presented us with an excellent platform to debut two new rugged mobile computers to the reseller/ISV community. We value our partnership with Varlink and are thrilled with the opportunities MTM delivers each year.”
Gen2wave also showcased their new UHF RFID and Barcode Readers – the RPT50 and RPT100, which are now available from Varlink. Both products are compatible with various host devices, with a long-lasting battery and slim and lightweight feel. The RPT100 is an ultra-rugged device with an IP68 rating and reading distance of up to 9m. With a stand-alone batch mode, up to 1000 RFID/barcode tags can be collected while off the network.
In addition to leading hardware vendors, MTM2018 also featured Varlink’s Alliance Partners who offer complementary products and services giving resellers the chance to enhance their overall solution.Also on show was the Zebra TC25 rugged smartphone, featuring a point-and-shoot scanner and all-day power with the snap on PowePack. This device is built for work with a 4.3in Gorilla Glass display and an IP65 rating.
In addition to leading hardware vendors, MTM2018 also featured Varlink’s Alliance Partners who offer complementary products and services giving resellers the chance to enhance their overall solution.
It was a bumper year, featuring 25 exhibitors and a record number of delegates in attendance. Honeywell’s UKI Distribution Manager, Erin Townsend, commented: “MTM is always a successful and well-run event. MTM presents great opportunities to meet new partners, catch up with existing partners, and showcase our latest exciting devices to the channel.”
While Datalogic’s Channel Manager, Johnathan Brown said: “We thought it was a great event that everyone at Varlink should be very proud of. We had an excellent experience and thought it was most worthwhile.”
This year’s event was organised by Varlink’s newly established marketing team, led by Head of Marketing, Lorien Lightfoot. The team is uniquely structured; each member of the team has a wealth of experience in graphic design, email marketing and digital marketing, allowing them to focus their efforts on specific verticals, and develop expert knowledge of each industry’s needs.
Customers are at the heart of Varlink’s Marketing operations and the development of industry specialists within the team allows them to better support their resellers in their own marketing efforts, providing branded materials, email campaign support and even advice on social media marketing, not to mention the comprehensive Product Reference Guide, which has just been released for 2018.
All in all, MTM18 was a huge success with exhibitors from long-standing Varlink brands, such as Zebra and Honeywell, to newcomers who made their MTM debut, like Labelmate, SBV and IntelliTrack. The business outlook for 2018 looks rosy for all Varlink’s partners, says CEO Mike Pullon:
“MTM is a testament to how much we value our relationship with both manufacturers and resellers and is always an indicator of how well Varlink will perform across the year. 2018 is set to be a record year for Varlink. With significantly increased stock holding and new products launching from some of our key brands, the company is making huge strides towards a year of significant growth.
Are you a Reseller?
To join Varlink’s reseller community please click here.
Are you a Field Service Executive?
If you are interested in any of the products mentioned in this article for your own business, please click here to be put in touch with a Varlink solutions provider.
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Janam has recently announced the launch of its XT100 series of rugged touch computers. Packed with business-critical features that enterprise organizations require, the XT100 surpasses its competition by delivering the latest enterprise-grade...
Janam has recently announced the launch of its XT100 series of rugged touch computers. Packed with business-critical features that enterprise organizations require, the XT100 surpasses its competition by delivering the latest enterprise-grade technologies in a stunning package, all at an extremely attractive price point.
The new XT100 eliminates the pitfalls and hidden costs associated with deploying consumer-grade devices in the enterprise and provides more features and functionality than any other device in its class. A standard 2-year warranty provides customers with both peace of mind and the level of service they require, at no additional cost, with optional Comprehensive Service plans available to those that want to further extend their mobile computing investment.
Key features include:
- Sleek smartphone design
- Android operating system
- 1.2 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon™ 410 quad-core processor
- Brilliant 4.3" touchscreen with Gorilla Glass 3
- Superior 2D barcode scanning
- Integrated RFID and NFC
- 1.2m drops to concrete
- Sealed to IP65 standard
- Lightning-fast 4G LTE voice and data
- Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
- Removable and rechargeable battery
- Wireless charging with optional accessory
The XT100 datasheet can be found here and our own Editor-in-Chief, Kris Oldland is currently road testing the XT100 so look out for our HandsOn review coming soon!
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As we continue our series evaluating the latest rugged devices to come onto the market we look at Janam’s new entry into the rugged tablet market, the XT2. Traditionally a rugged handheld computer manufacturer, how has their expertise translated...
As we continue our series evaluating the latest rugged devices to come onto the market we look at Janam’s new entry into the rugged tablet market, the XT2. Traditionally a rugged handheld computer manufacturer, how has their expertise translated into what is arguably their most consumer-looking fully rugged device yet as they step into the increasingly popular form factor of smaller rugged tablets...
What the manufacturers say:
Productivity and resource utilisation are critical to the success of any mobile workforce. Janam’s XT2 rugged touch computer enables mobile employees to work smarter and more efficiently – ultimately improving operating results and increasing customer satisfaction.
Weighing only 10 ounces, the XT2 is smaller, lighter and faster than other rugged mobile computers in its class and equipped with a brilliant 5-inch colour display with Corning® Gorilla® Glass 3. With an impressive smartphone like design, the Android™-powered XT2 is equipped with the latest technological advancements, including 4G LTE wireless connectivity for lightning fast access to voice and data, dual-band 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi and high sensitivity GPS.
The XT2 is a purpose-built device designed to foster more collaboration across mobile workforces. High-performance 1D and 2D barcode scanning, as well as RFID and NFC reading capabilities, ensures organisations can address a full spectrum of data capture needs with one device. Integrated 8.0MP/2.0MP front and rear-facing colour auto-focus cameras enable customers to capture high-resolution photos, signatures and more.
The XT2 is sealed to IP67 standards against dust and immersion in up to 3 feet of water. It can withstand multiple 5’/1.5m drops to concrete per MIL-STD 810G across a wide temperature range.
The last time Field Service News got our HandsOn a device from Janam (The XM5) our one criticism was that whilst the device ticked all of the boxes in terms of relative processing power, ruggedness and functionality, it still had a slight air of yesterday’s device about it.
In fairness, as we pointed out at the time, this was less about the XM5’s profile and more about the form factor itself. It was a great example of a device within the traditional handheld computer form factor, but in an age of tablets and smartphones, the traditional looking handheld, especially fully rugged variants, just look that little bit dated.
We have seen a growing trend in recent years for rugged manufacturers to start emulating the sleeker lines of consumer devices where possible as long as they aren’t sacrificing ruggedity.
That said however, there is also an argument that a device that has more of a ‘consumer feel’ about it is potentially more likely to engender faster adoption rates. Indeed, we have seen a growing trend in recent years for rugged manufacturers to start emulating the sleeker lines of consumer devices where possible as long as they aren’t sacrificing ruggedity.
Gen2Wav and Honeywell have both recently released products that are fine examples of fully rugged devices that do just this and Panasonic’s soon to be launched FZ-F1 will also be in a form factor that is as close to a smartphone as it is a tablet and such devices make a good comparison for the XT2.
The device is lightweight and sleek. Despite being referred to as a rugged touch computer, it has more of a feel of a large smart phone and when we look at it alongside other rugged smartphones, it is a fine example of what can be achieved in terms of a slim and sexy form factor in a rugged device.
The XT2 has a reasonable Quad-core Qualcomm MSM8916 CPU @1.2GHz which whilst not being the fastest on the block (Panasonic’s FZ-N1 runs a Qualcomm® MSM8974AB 2.3GHz Quad Core for example) it is certainly up there with the majority of similar devices within the field.
The XT2 operates on up-to 2GB RAM with 16GB ROM which is somewhere in the middle of the pack and definitely suitable for a number of field service applications - the memory is also expandable via a user accessible Micro SD slot with SD and SDHC support
The XT2 is currently running Android 5 (Lollipop) which is a common standard for industry focussed devices.
Lollipop is now tried and trusted and enterprise secure. There is unlikely to be an issue with any applications devised for it and equally introducing it into the IT mix shouldn’t be too much of a headache in terms of both implementation and a security protocols as the OS has been around for sometime now.
Whilst Android 7.0 is now appearing in the latest consumer handsets and Android 6.0 is now fairly prevalent in the consumer world, in terms of the UX , whilst there is some difference in terms of functionality, visually the difference between Lollipop(5) to Marshmallow (6) is very small.
Therefore, the benefits of Lollipop in terms of stability make sense whilst the fear of the OS taking the shine off the consumerised feel of the XT2 are also minimal.
The Ins & Outs:
Whilst the XT2 doesn’t have the world’s greatest amount of Input/Output options (which is to be expected in a device with such a light footprint) it does include all of the key essentials.
Where the XT2 has a distinct advantage over many rugged smartphones/mini tablets that aren’t designed with industry in mind is its inclusion of a dedicated bar-code scanning engine
Where the XT2 has a distinct advantage over many rugged smartphones/mini tablets that aren’t designed with industry in mind is its inclusion of a dedicated bar-code scanning engine (Zebra SE4710 1D/2D imager) as well as the ability to read all NFC types and RFID tags in the 13.56 MHz range.
Coupled with four programmable power buttons, which are likely best put to use to trigger the barcode scanner and this could be highly advantageous for field engineers whose role includes swapping out a large number of parts.
In terms of connectivity the XT2 supports Dual-band 802.11a/b/g/n and is Cisco certified which covers most of the available bases and should allow for good Wi-fi connectivity speeds regardless of the signal it is using. In addition to this the XT2’s Wi-fi security protocols are also robust. The device also supports EDGE/GPRS/GSM, WCDMA and LTE for 4G mobile internet.
The XT2 also features Bluetooth 4.0 so can be paired with additional tools in the field including potentially Android Wear based smart watches or glasses as well as a keyboard for data input.
Additionally, the device offers Qualcomm® IZat™: Gen 8 support for three bands concurrently (GPS, BeiDou and GLONASS or Galileo) which can be invaluable in the field both in terms of updating asset information as well as geo-location functionality, to a precise degree.
It is when we look at the rugged specs of the XT2 that the device really stands out as a great example of what can be achieved in such a sleek form factor.
The fact that it is dropped directly onto concrete, instead of two inches of plywood as required for MIL-STD 810G, also adds further to its rugged credentials.
In terms of drop resistance the device is tested against the standard 1.5 meter MIL-STD 810G drop tests onto concrete from all angles across a wide range of temperature ratings. The fact that it is dropped directly onto concrete, instead of two inches of plywood as required for MIL-STD 810G, also adds further to its rugged credentials.
The XT2 also has an operating temperature range of -20º to 60º C so should be functional in even the most testing environments.
In terms of battery life the XT2 comes with a 3000mAh battery as standard but with the option to upgrade for a 4000mAh version also available.
Whilst in theory this should be enough to see out most engineers working days and in our own testing the battery lasted a full day with moderate to heavy usage, there is also an extended battery kit available.
The XT2 is especially suited for those field technicians working in an environment where a fully rugged device becomes essential.
Although the processing power isn’t quite at the very top end of its category, there is still plenty of power to run the vast majority of apps a field service technician would likely need - it’s certainly no slouch and responded quickly in our own tests.
All in all the XT2 is a fantastic option for any field service technician, it is a lightweight device and the programmable buttons could greatly improve work-flow in some areas. However, the XT2 is especially suited for those field technicians working in an environment where a fully rugged device becomes essential.
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Enabling our field engineers with the right tools for the job is critical to success for any field service organisation. To help you find the right device for your mobile workers, Field Service News is road-testing a number of the leading devices...
Enabling our field engineers with the right tools for the job is critical to success for any field service organisation. To help you find the right device for your mobile workers, Field Service News is road-testing a number of the leading devices on the market. This time around we turn our attention to the XM5, a rugged handheld computer from Janam...
What the manufacturers say...
The XM5 mobile computer redefines productivity and is built to withstand the rigours of heavy duty use in the field.
It combines the latest technological advancements in mobile devices with a sleek and rugged design to provide the power and flexibility that enterprise and government customers demand.
Equipped with 4G-ready WWAN and 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi communications, the XM5 ensures mobile workers will be able to access voice and data anytime, anywhere. Additional features include the choice between a 1D/2D imager or 1D laser scanner, as well as integrated RFID and NFC reading capabilities, front and rear facing cameras, Bluetooth and smart battery power management.
The XM5 mobile computer survives repeated 5ft drops to concrete across a wide operating temperature range, is sealed to IP65 standards and is UL-certified to provide ultimate reliability in extreme and hazardous locations.
In a world where consumer smartphones and tablets are being used more and more frequently by field service companies, the form factor of a traditional handheld computer such as the Janam XM5 can’t help but look ever so slightly dated.
This is not so much a slight on the XM5 but more so on the Handheld form factor itself. However, it’s important to remember that being industrial devices, rugged handhelds are built for functionality not fashion. For example, whilst most smart phones offer barcode scanning ability, the functionality is cumbersome compared to a fit-for-purpose device such as the XM5.
Indeed, the XM5 itself is a sleek and lightweight example of the form factor, whilst remaining undeniably a rugged device capable of withstanding its fair share of bumps and knocks. The XM5 comes with a rear strap that makes holding the device comfortable and it’s 3.5 inch brilliant VGA TFT display was bright and easily read in daylight.
[quote float="left”]“You get the feeling that the XM5 is all about reliability and even when first getting to grips with the device, you get a sense that this is a device that won’t let you down...”In the hand the device feels a lot lighter than it looks and, weighing in at 305g, it is about a third heavier than a high end consumer phablet such as Samsung’s Galaxy Note 4.
However, thanks to the aforementioned rear strap such a difference is negligible. The device itself has a profile on par for the form factor with its 2.5cm depth being similar to that of Zebra’s MC45 and Handheld’s Nautiz X4 but the challenge again for any handheld computer is comparison with smartphones such as the Caterpillar CAT S30 which with a depth of 1.3cm has a profile almost half that of the XM5.
The build quality on first impressions seems high and the hard rubber casing features grooves that provide a comfortable grip on the device. Button placement is also sensible with access to the scanning function available in three separate places again conveniently placed to make the device easy to handle. The XM5 comes in two options for the keyboard, either numerical or full Qwerty. The unit we had for review featured the Qwerty layout and, whilst by definition the keyboard is of course incredibly small and a challenge for those of us blessed with stubby fingers, again the build quality is good and the keyboard has just the right amount of responsiveness delivering a satisfying click when buttons are pressed.
Whilst it’s never going to deliver the ‘wow’ factor for an field service engineer that a consumer device or even some rugged smart phones or tablets might do, you get the feeling that the XM5 is all about reliability and even when first getting to grips with the device, you get a sense that this is a device that won’t let you down when you need it the most.
The one area where it does fall down though is the telescopic stylus that just feels that bit more fragile and flimsy compared to the XM5 itself.
In terms of processing power, the XM5 has a 512mb RAM with a 1GB of ROM and uses an ARM Cortex-A8 1GHz processor which again puts it on a par with similar devices such as the Nautiz X4 and more powerful than Zebra’s MC45 which has just a 256mb RAM with a 600Hz processor.
Such processing power should be sufficient to run most basic field service productivity apps that handle activities such as job completion and parts and inventory management whilst some of the more vertical specific CPU intensive applications would potentially struggle. However, in fairness, utilising such apps is not what devices such as the XM5 are designed for and in terms of its form factor it delivers as much of a punch under the bonnet as many other similar devices.
One of the big factors in the XM5’s favour is that it comes both in a Windows and Android flavour with both operating systems being able to run on the same hardware. In terms of Windows, the XM5 runs Microsoft Windows Embedded Handheld 6.5. This is starting to feel a tad cumbersome and dated compared to some more of the modern handheld OS, although Windows 8.1 is seen in many quarters as a not being a viable option for Handheld devices and Windows 10 development in this market is still in its infancy.
[quote float="right”]One of the big factors in the XM5’s favour is that it comes both in a Windows and Android flavour with both operating systems being able to run on the same hardware.Also remember Windows Embedded Handheld 6.5 as an operating system is proven and robust as well being built with enterprise security in mind. So, whilst not the slickest of interfaces, it again remains true to its cause.
On the Android version the device runs Jelly Bean 4.2. Again, this does feel that little bit dated compared to the more recent Android OS, with many devices (both rugged and consumer) running the latest OS of Lollipop 5.1
With most field service management vendors now including apps for Android (as well as IoS) these days the Android Play Store application makes getting the right applications on a device an easy task.
The Ins & Outs
When we look at the device ports, while somewhat limited by the available space the XM5 again comes with the usual suspects in terms of I/O for a handheld computer.
With a 3.5mm headphone jack with a unique locking mechanism (which can be essential for making voice calls in an outdoor environment), a mini USB slot for syncing and charging, and user accessible microSD card slot with SD and SDHC support, the fundamental basics are all there.
The XM5 also comes with a choice of 1D/2D imager or 1D laser scanner, which are accessed by one of three buttons which should allow for the quick and efficient scanning of parts in and out of a field service engineer's van.
In what is one of the key considerations for selecting a device suitable for a mobile workforce, namely delivering good connectivity options, then the XM5 certainly doesn’t let us down.
The device comes with strong mobile internet connectivity being both 3G and 4G capable as well as good Wi-Fi connections with 802.11a/b/g/n availability.
Alongside this the XM5 also comes with Bluetooth 2.1, Ublox GPS and assisted GPS and features embedded RFID and NFC - again both useful for parts monitoring within the field service space.
Security is also well covered with the XM5 meeting enterprise level EAP standards alongside WPA,WPA2 and WEP encryption.
This is where the XM5 really shines. It certainly a tough little cookie for sure.
[quote float="left”]Officially the device is protected from low pressure water jets from any direction, meaning it will survive outdoors in the rain as well as being washed down and for clean room environments it can withstand 85% concentration alcohol rub.With an IP rating of IP65 the XM5 is deemed to be completely protected from total dust ingress making it perfect for a number of environments such as building sites, warehouses and Middle Eastern locations.
The IP65 rating also means it can take a decent bit of drenching. Officially the device is protected from low pressure water jets from any direction, meaning it will survive outdoors in the rain as well as being washed down and for clean room environments it can withstand 85% concentration alcohol rub.
The XM5 is also tested to survive 5ft drops onto concrete. Indeed, having put this to the test ourselves, the XM5 survived numerous drops without even picking up scratch and given the stability in hand offered by the rear strap, it would certainly survive the rigours of all but the most demanding field service environments.
Finally, with an operating temperature ranging from -20°C through to 60°C again the XM5 should be suited to almost all field service operating environments.
With this combination of ruggedised features, the XM5 sits comfortably within its sector as one of the most robust devices available.
In terms of daily usage, the XM5 should be capable of lasting a full shift for most field service engineers as it ships with a 4000mAh rechargeable Li-ion battery, which the manufacturers claim will provide ‘extended battery life as a standard feature, not an optional one.’
In addition to this the XM5 boasts smart battery power management to eke out the very most from the battery.
As mentioned in the introduction, in an age where smart phones have gained massive traction within certain corners of the field service industry, any handheld is going to struggle to win the hearts of field service engineers when it just comes down to sleek modern looks.
One thing is certain though and that is that the XM5 can certainly handle itself in the great outdoors...
However, fortunately for Janam and other handheld computer manufacturers, there is far more to selecting a device than just the ‘wow’ factor and shiny good looks.
But in fact, this is perhaps being a little unfair on the XM5 - it is a decent looking example of the form factor, with a relatively small footprint, decent sized screen and is comfortable and light in hand.
From a processing point of view, again the XM5 can sit proudly amongst its peers and whilst it will fall flat for those engineers who are dependent on CPU hungry applications, equally it should be capable of meeting the demands of most field service applications.
One thing is certain though and that is that the XM5 can certainly handle itself in the great outdoors and when we look at its impressive rugged specs, its strong array of connectivity tools and its more-than-decent battery life, then you can see that the device is going to be unlikely to fail in the field.
A few minor gripes would be the flimsy feel of the telescopic stylus which could potentially be easily lost or broken and the touch-screen wasn’t the most responsive, resulting in a few applications being opened multiple times.
Also the fact that the device can run both Android and Windows on the same hardware could be a major selling point for those companies looking to switch from one platform to the other (generally Windows to Android).
Very much a device clearly designed for industry, the XM5 lives up to the Janam claim that they make business tools not toys.
Overall the XM5 is a good, solid option for companies looking to select a handheld computer over a rugged tablet or smart phone and the ease of scanning functionality, alongside the embedded RFID and NFC, would make this a great device for any field service engineer whose role involves swapping and replacing a lot of parts.