Spirit Data Capture

Spirit News - Summer 2013

Welcome to the summer edition of Spirit Data Capture’s newsletter for businesses who are interested in information and news relating to rugged mobile data capture solutions.

In this issue, the articles include:

  • The different merits of 3G and 4G (with 5G creeping up on the rails)
  • A quick look at operating systems for rugged mobile devices
  • Google Glass – seeing is believing…
  • Has the death knell sounded for PCs and laptops?

We hope you enjoy reading this newsletter. If you would like more information on any of the items below, please call us on 01928 718800 or send an email to: helen.jones@spiritdatacapture.co.uk.

The G Force – the relative merits of 3G, 4G, 5G ...

Mobile communications and its associated technology continue to evolve at a breakneck speed. It seems only a short time ago that the industry was excited by smartphones and then the development of 3G networks – but now 4G and even 5G are rearing their heads above the parapet. So what are the main differences between them, and how should mobile device users make a choice?


When 3G first arrived, it heralded some major changes in the ways in which mobile devices are used. The main advantages included high-speed Internet access, higher quality audio and video and wide area voice telephony. But as users became familiar with the advantages, they started demanding even higher Internet speeds and even greater functionality. This led to the development of the HSPA+ (Evolved High Speed Packet Access) standard, which in turn led to LTE (Long Term Evolution), the 4G standard. The main disadvantage of LTE is that the network has to be built from scratch, as this standard is incompatible with 3G networks.

The advantages of true 4G networks are that they provide a higher access speed and an even higher quality service than their 3G equivalents; they offer greater efficiency and higher reliability than 3G networks; they support multiple applications; and they offer an ‘always best connected’ service (by connecting to the best available network for a particular application). Despite this, the cost of an LTE network is similar to that of an HSPA+ network.

On the other side, the coverage offered by LTE isn’t as extensive as that for HSPA+. In addition, mobile devices need an LTE radio to be able to access the network. However, LTE is continuing to evolve and is likely to become the most favoured solution in the future.

And there’s more…
Just when things seemed to be getting clearer, another development is in the pipeline over the next few years, which will muddy the water further – 5G network technology. This promises still faster speeds and could eventually enable mobile devices to stream ultra-high definition video. Samsung has predicted that by 2020, mobile data transfers could be several hundred times faster than the current 4G technology, with new services such as 3D movies and games.

Only one thing is certain – the technology will continue to change. Rather than constantly chasing new trends, mobile device users perhaps need to decide on a technology and make the most of what it offers, without constantly looking for the latest development.

Windows CEMobile operating systems

The right choice of operating system is highly important for rugged mobile devices, with factors such as reliability, performance and security having to be taken into account. At the moment, the clear leader still seems to be Windows CE, with Windows Mobile also proving to be very popular.

Windows operating systems have the benefit of ease of use and ease of integration – partly due to the widespread penetration of the platforms. Windows CE is supported by numerous mobile device manufacturers and also offers users the advantage of having familiar, built-in tools such as Mobile Internet Explorer and WordPad. Windows Mobile also has some familiar tools and features, including mobile versions of Outlook, Word, PowerPoint and Excel. It also provides enhanced levels of security.

AndoroidSome of the other common platforms include Palm (which is decreasing in popularity) and Linux. However, the main challenge to Microsoft in the future is likely to come from Android, Google’s Linux-based platform. Although the platform is still relatively small in terms of usage at the moment, the recent explosion in Android mobiles could be followed by a corresponding increase in the number of Android rugged mobile devices.

However, the platform has recently attracted some negative press, due partly to the fact that over 100,000 Android applications available from the Google Play Store could represent a security risk. Many fairly basic apps pose a threat because they could access potentially confidential information on the mobile device.

Heart of Glass

Google Glass is a head-mounted computer that is worn, and looks like, a pair of glasses. However, it’s even lighter than a pair of sunglasses. It includes a camera and a touchpad that enables the user to control the device. Because it uses hands-free technology, it could potentially revolutionise the way in which mobile workers perform their jobs in the future.

Google Glass

Google Glass runs on the Android operating system and could prove popular with mobile device management vendors. One has already said that its platform supports Google Glass for monitoring and managing mobile devices. It offers tremendous versatility to users, including the ability to locate, lock or wipe missing or stolen devices.

The device itself could prove invaluable to distribution and logistics companies whose drivers need to communicate with their depot or who want to ask for further information whilst leaving their hands free for delivering items. Google Glass is said to be easy to use – it’s perhaps only just a matter of time before it becomes the technology of choice for many mobile workers.

A very smart badge

SB1Motorola has developed a highly innovative new category of mobile computer, which can be worn around the neck, on a belt or on an arm. The SB1 is a ‘smart badge’ that can be used in a wide range of industry sectors, from healthcare and hospitality through to retail and manufacturing.

The badge is a cost-efficient and affordable thin-client device that is highly versatile and can be used for a wide variety of applications – from inter-employee communications through to task management. Ultimately, it is designed to improve productivity, efficiency and customer service whilst reducing costs.

This fascinating new solution can read bar codes (with omni-directional scanning). Examples of its many uses include: answering customer questions on pricing of products; medication dispensing; patient record tracking, meeting and greeting; accessing task lists; and information capture. It has a long battery life and the three-inch display is easy to read in all lighting conditions. The badge has been built for everyday use and is therefore very durable. It uses finger-style navigation, eliminating the need for a stylus.

The death of laptops and PCs?

For some time now, the death of the PC and laptop has been predicted in many areas of the computing and data collection industries. This forecast has been backed up by figures that show dwindling sales, as an increasing number of users show their preference for smartphones and tablets. In recent months, leading companies such as Hewlett Packard and Microsoft have confirmed that they have been hit by the decline in demand.


Although Microsoft hoped to revive the fortunes of the PC and laptop market with Windows 8, this has only been a qualified success so far. This is partly due to the fact that the recent breed of machines that run Windows 8 have been priced significantly higher than their predecessors. Indeed, some analysts believe that the new operating system has helped to speed up the demise of desktops.

Meanwhile, the meteoric rise in demand for tablets has meant that shipments of these relatively new devices are likely to overtake those of both PCs and laptops within the next year or so. Despite all of this seeming ‘doom and gloom’ the truth behind the figures is slightly different. Although the market share for PCs might be falling, the overall demand for desktops remains reasonably stable.

So, although it’s likely that the demand for PCs and laptops will start decreasing significantly in the future, they are likely to be around for a few years yet. Meanwhile, however, there is little doubt that the popularity of many types of mobile devices is likely to keep growing, especially as they increase in power, performance and functionality.

Please feel free to pass this newsletter on to your colleagues. If you would like more information on any of the items, please call us on 01928 718800, send an email to: helen.jones@spiritdatacapture.co.uk. or visit our website at www.spiritdatacapture.co.uk.

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