We bring you today a first presentation on a new device, which we didn’t have physical access to yet, but feel that this info should be shared with our readers. We are trying to get a sample unit to publish a proper review.
Datalogic is an Italian company with a global presence, and it’s an European leader on barcodes and RFID readers, photo-electric sensors, and mobile devices for information gathering, in the automation industry.
Datalogic announced a new device that caught my attention, the ELF. I’ve searched for more information, and ended being invited for a webminar on this industrial Windows Phone / PDA. I do love rugged devices, mainly because my off-road hobbies and working in the construction business. And this ELF seems to be asking for that kind of fun!
So, ELF is a rugged device, for professional and industrial use. Nobody would consider this device for a daily “normal” use, for its size, weight, and some of the features are perfectly unnecessary for the consumer, and the (probable) price tag to match… yet, DRN felt that it would be interesting to show a device of a class where “our” Windows Mobile, together with Windows CE, are the main players.
According to VDC Research, it’s easy to see that these two Microsoft products rule the industrial market, and Windows Mobile is rapidly gaining on CE. Below, a comparison between 2007 data and the 2012 projection, on devices similar to ELF.
So, what is the ELF, exactly? It’s a PDA with Windows Mobile as we know it, rugged to resist water and falls, with a physical keyboard (optional QWERTY or numeric), with 1D and 2D barcodes reader, and/or RFID sensor.
Some technical data, taken from Datalogic website:
Ergonomic, compact and robust
Microsoft Windows Mobile 6.5
UMTS HSDPA mobile radio for voice and data communication
Summit embedded 802.11 a/b/g radio for enterprise-class mobile connectivity with CCX V4 certification
Bluetooth® wireless Communications 2.0 EDR for simultaneous connections with lower power consumption
High performance Laser or Wide aspect 2D imager both with Green Spot patented good read confirmation
Integrated HF RFID reader
3 Megapixel autofocus Camera with Flash
256 MB RAM / 256 MB Flash memory
XScale™ PXA 310 @ 624 MHz processor
User-accessible micro SD memory slot (SDHC)
Ruggedized with 1.5 m (5 ft) drop to concrete resistance and IP64 protection class
Wavelink Avalanche® device management
Other interesting details:
3000 mAh battery (optional 5000 mAh)
Scratch resistant screen
Micro USB with host capability (can take a mouse, memory pen, etc)
Easy development of specific software
Starting with the features that distinguish ELF from our normal PDA, it’s the possibility to read barcodes and other graphical stamps, assuring compatibility with most of the international and local standards.
To make the reading even more easier for the user, a green light is projected on the barcode to confirm a good read, so the user don’t have to look at the code, the screen, back to the code, and so on. The readers can be set to stay on for a fixed time, avoiding the need to press the scan button for each new read, making all the process easier and quicker.
The optional RFID module reads the close magnetic field, allowing for an even simpler way of data collecting.
This kind of device can be seen useful for several professional tasks. Any logistic and delivery service nowadays use this devices to manage all the process, from the warehouse to the final address, including GPS routing and even the accept signature on the screen. Other common uses include big stores and warehouses, and any environment with the need to deal with large inventories. In restaurants this can also be seen as a way to take orders, sending them wirelessly to the kitchen, and printing the tab in the end.
Development of specific tools for specific tasks is also very important on this market. Besides the “normal” developing tools, like C++, .NET and JAVA, Datalogic offers SDK and Wavelink management tools for an easier and more integrated way of building software solutions, deploy them and maintain.
Another interesting detail, using the barcode reader as soon as the user takes the ELF out of the box: all the normal and time-consuming configurations can be set by simply reading a set of barcodes in the device’s manual.
In any other way, the ELF will operate like any other Windows Phone, and the specs should allow for a pleasant experience.
Conclusion and links
As stated before, DRN hope to present a complete test on this special device. It will not be on the short list for the next buy of many of the readers, but we believe that many professionals could see in ELF an interesting solution for their professional needs.
More info on ELF microsite.
This article is published in collaboration with PocketPT.net.