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Symbol MC35

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It seems that Symbol, that bastion of all rugged portable electronic devices, backend, point-of-sale and barcoding equipment are attempting to coin a new acronym: EDA, or Enterprise Digital Assistant. Undoubtedly this is an initiative driven by Motorola who purchased Symbol Technologies late in 2006. Their newest "EDA" is the Symbol MC35.

How We Tested
We took the MC35 and ran it through some battery tests; note that the product has two battery options: one standard at 1370mAh and one extended life at 2750mAh. We ran testing on the standard battery.

The standard battery ran a very impressive total of six hours and 47 minutes, which would indicate that the extended life would be close to double that.

Time: Charge left:
1st hour 85%
2nd hour 69%
3rd hour 56%
4th hour 36%
5th hour 21%
6th hour 5%

NOTE: Testing was conducted with every possible option turned on, no SIM installed, no power saving at all and with the display's backlight on its brightest for the full duration. Making/receiving voice/data calls and connecting to a wireless access point, in addition to using CPU intensive applications would reduce these battery life results.

What's inside
The kit we were sent from Symbol was comprehensive to say the least, coming with a robust vehicle mounting system as well as 12VDC power adaptor; these are all optional accessories for customers. The rest of the components delivered were to be expected, including a data cable, power adaptor, wired headset and the device itself.

There is a small QWERTY keyboard below the touch screen display, while the stylus is stored in the top right-hand side of the device. Extra data storage is handled by a standard SD/MMC card. The question on everybody's lips is whether or not this Symbol device has a barcode reader, and the answer is most certainly yes. The reader is activated by flipping a small recessed switch that flips the mode from camera to reader.

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The unit was shipped with an application called CamWedge v2.04.00 installed and during our testing the optical scanning was very hit and miss (even with the light source switched on). If barcodes are your thing and this device is going to be used regularly for picking up these codes then definitely perform some testing to ensure that your expectations are met.

The product, while not on the dainty side also luckily isn't in the "bar of soap" category when it comes to trying to hold and operate it as well. Most users shouldn't find themselves inadvertently switching between 56 different functions every time they try to pick up the device, as all the peripheral buttons and switches have been placed in logical places.

The unit runs on the Windows mobile platform and comes with a variety of tools created by Symbol that take advantage of the features of the device.

Verdict
Overall the MC35 is a basic smartphone/PDA/EDA/whatever you like to call it, that has power, is easy to use and comes with a range of features and accessories that would make it attractive to most organisations with the need for a fleet of mini-computing devices. While certainly not the cheapest product on the block, the pricing also is not out of the question providing the organisation has defined clearly the productivity gains from deployment.

The Symbol MC35 Enterprise Digital Assistant would definitely be a good start for procurement evaluation and reference as an all-in-one package.

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