Motorola unveils its MC9500 rugged handheld

Successor to the MC9000 has power management, ability to switch between wireless networks

Motorola Inc. today announced an industrial-class handheld, the MC9500, that builds on its best-selling MC9000 and includes a new battery management technology and a universal accessory system to organize space for charging cradles, power packs and cables.

Pricing and a shipping date were not immediately announced.

The ruggedized MC9500 also supports 3.5G wireless for faster connections over GSM HSDPA and CDMA-EVDO Rev. A networks being rolled out by carriers in the U.S. and abroad. With an innovation called Max FlexWAN, a business can deploy numerous MC9500s and then select the 3.5G network that meets its needs, Motorola said in a statement.

The Motorola MC9500 handheld
The Motorola MC9500 handheld

Businesses involved in the package delivery, field service, and transportation and logistics industries can switch between the networks themselves without having to return the device to Motorola, the company said.

Another feature of the MC9500 is interactive sensor technology. IST includes motion-sensing capabilities to detect and log when one of the devices is dropped, which can help in long-term maintenance of the device. It also improves power management by putting the device in sleep mode when it is placed face down.

The MC9500 also assists with signature capturing, which is needed by package-delivery drivers. It also includes an accelerometer that switches the screen capture between portrait and landscape modes.

Motorola's enterprise division, which is the force behind the MC9500 and other rugged and business-focused handhelds, has performed well in recent quarters, compared with the company's consumer division, which has faced revenue declines and is expected to eventually be spun off. The consumer division last week announced an Android smartphone, the Cliq, which is due to go on sale before the holidays. Motorola hopes the Cliq will re-ignite interest in its consumer products.

The MC9500 is the first mobile computer based on Motorola's second-generation mobility architecture. It runs Windows Mobile 6.1 and has a Marvell XScale PXA320 processor that performs at 806 MHz.

The device includes a 3-megapixel camera that can be used as a scanner or image-capturing device for reading one- or two-dimensional bar codes. GPS is also provided, along with 802.11a/b/g support, including voice over wireless. A microSD slot supports up to 16GB of expansion storage.

A 3.7-in. color touch display sits above a smaller keyboard, which is fairly typical in ruggedized handhelds used for field service, package deliver and even public safety. However, the MC9500 has what Motorola called a smaller, easier-to-grip form factor for one-handed operation if needed. Overall, it is 9.2 by 3.5 by 2 in. in size and weighs 22 oz.

The lithium battery provides eight hours of talk time and 150 hours of standby time, according to Motorola.

The company scheduled a New York unveiling of the device today with customers attending.

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