"Your #1 Source for Up-to-date Barcode and AutoID Technology Information"
CODE. SCAN. SAVE.
|Motorola MC75 Review||Date: 09/05/2008|
The Motorola MC75 is the long awaited upgrade to the MC70 series mobile computer. A mid-sized mobile computer designed specifically for field mobility applications, the MC70 was released in 2006. Its popularity is reflected in over 450k units sold worldwide since its introduction. Motorola recognized the need to update the platform to include hardware required for future growth in the field mobility space.
Motorola MC75 Official Marketing
As with all new or revised Mobile Computers with an integrated barcode scanner, the Motorola MC75 incorporates changes that the manufacturer wants to emphasize - as evidenced in promotional materials. The long and short of the message is as follows:
Click here to download the Motorola MC75 datasheet.
As always, the official marketing materials don't necessarily give you an arbitrary comparison of the old vs. new. There's a big difference from reading marketing materials and holding the unit in your hand and collecting data with it.
The Wireless Network (WAN) Options
Symbol numbering nomenclature is complicated at best. Although the MC75 is the product line number, there are suffixes that designate the type of device. The major advantage of the Motorola MC75 upgrade is its ability to take advantage of the higher data rates of 3G (HSDPA 3.6) and EVDO (Rev A) cell networks. The nomenclature for the Motorola MC75 reflecting the specific WAN network options are below:
MC7506 - WAN / PAN (HPSDA - ATT)
The HSDPA (3g) versions were available in July, with Sprint version due in late August, Verizon and Alltel available in September. Of note is that the HSDPA version allows simultaneous voice and data communication. That means you can take a voice call while using a data connected application.
802.11 Wireless Lan (WLAN)
Bluetooth Wireless (WPAN - wireless personal area network)
Look and Feel
The ergonomics of the Motorola MC75 were expectedly underwhelming. The device is uncomfortable to hold, and it can still be a challenge to position your hand to comfortably hit one of the 3 scan buttons. With the extended capacity battery, the MC75 is almost painful in the hand. Its difficult to holster, operate and holster again. It doesn't appear that Motorola has and ergonomist as part of the Symbol MC75 team (or the MC90XX team). We wish they would hold any Honeywell Dolphin device, or even the Datalogic Scorpio. "How it feels" can be as important as "how it works".
The Motorola MC75 is available in a QWERTY and Numeric keypad. Unlike the MC90XX series, the keypad type is fixed and cannot be changed from the originally ordered configuration.
Processor and memory:
There is a user-accessible micro SD card slot built into the MC75. The device is still limited to 2GB of Storage Card capacity, so the use of SDHC cards is still prohibited. And, if you've ever loaded a 3rd party GPS program, you know that with a reasonable amount of map data on the card there will be little room for anything else. The access door for the micro SD takes up the same amount of space as it did on the old device, so we view the card slot as a disadvantage. You won't be able to use the SD cards you have laying around from your older units, and if you do data / application distribution on memory cards, you'll need 2 formats now if you're running MC70's and MC75's in the same deployment.
Data Collection (scanner / imager):
The MC75 can also be configured with a laser line scanner. Motorola upgraded to the SE950 scan engine from the SE800HP. The 800HP goes all the way back to the PPT8800, so it was logical to upgrade the engine as the MC75 benefits from the smaller footprint and lighter electrical requirements of the SE950. Testing the engines side-by-side, the performance of the SE950 is a noticeable improvement. It has greater overall range and speed of decoding as it scans at twice the rate of the old SE800HP. Performance on higher density codes is greatly increased, as is its performance on damaged codes.
There is no word from Motorola as to if and when the Lorax extended long-range scanner will be available.
That being said, the camera performance is what you'd expect from a 2mp camera currently featured in most smart phones and PDA's. The camera is controlled using the Windows Mobile "Pictures and Video" program or the manufacturer supplied program.
Notably, Motorola allows you to use the MC75 camera to decode barcodes. The camera decode utility is much improved over the MC35 version, which was difficult to gauge the distance needed from the code for the barcode decode algorithm to work. The new utility provides an "aiming circle" that starts out as a red circle, and changes to a green circle when the camera can see the barcode well enough to decode it.
The holy grail of barcode scanning applications has always been having consumers scan barcodes with a convenient device, and we've always thought that the most convenient device would be their cell phones. Standing by as other companies developed and deployed the QRCode for cell phone cameras, we were worried that the majors in the barcode mobile computer business would be left behind.
When the MC35 camera scanning program came out, we spoke to a host of Motorola technical types in about the suitability and improvement path of the utility and were consistently told "it was a mistake", "for occasional use only" and "it's a management device, managers don't scan a lot of barcodes". The reactions we got led us to believe that Motorola was going to walk away from this technology.
However, instead of abandoning the idea, Motorola expanded on and improved it in the MC75. Obviously, Motorola is demonstrating with the MC75 camera utility that they see the future. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/01/business/01code.html
From our perspective, the surprise inclusion of camera scanning in the Motorola MC75 is notable for the following reasons:
The Motorola MC75 promotional literature touts the camera as giving applications the ability to do OCR. We've yet to see an application where a picture is captured, and OCR takes place in the background with OCR values used to populate application program fields going to a database. It's a great idea whose time is long past due. We'll keep you posted.
The SiRS starIII is notable for its ability to obtain a TTFF satellite lock quickly in normal environments, and can maintain its lock in city and rural environments with intermittent obstructions to the satellites. Able to process the signal from up to 20 satellites at the same time, the StarIII has regularly been observed to get a TTFF in less than 10 seconds.
Battery Capacity:The battery capacity, and presumably the operation time are increased on the MC75. With the standard battery having a 90% capacity increase over the model it replaces, it appears that the Motorola MC75 has ample power capacity to operate a full shift using phone, scanner, GPS and camera capabilities. The "extended capacity" battery offers a modest 26% increase over the prior extended battery.
The utilities supplied with the Motorola MC75 are second to none. The Motorola Control Panel and other applications, along with MSP and DataWedge give IT departments the ability to control and easily update devices using a variety of methods and techniques.
There is a lot of detail in the Motorola MC75 User's Guide for the use of the Magnetic Stripe Reader and the new Debit Card Reader. Obviously, this represents Motorola seeing more sales available in the retail / merchant market.
Pros versus Cons
Full VGA Display MicroSD Storage Card
2 mp Camera with Decode Capability