Motorola's New ES400 EDA Is a Smartphone for the Field

Motorola, with Microsoft and Sprint, has introduced the ES400 Enterprise Digital Assistant. The most mainstream-looking device in its enterprise lineup, the ES400 looks and talks like a consumer smartphone but works like a semi-rugged handheld.

Motorola's Enterprise Mobility Solutions division, with partners Sprint and Microsoft on the sidelines, introduced its newest handheld for the enterprise, the ES400 global Enterprise Digital Assistant, at an event at the New York Stock Exchange June 17.
With the ES400, Motorola hopes to fill a gap by offering a device that-in looks, size, weight and voice capabilities-has the appeal of a consumer smartphone, but the security and durability, as well as productivity and manageability features, of a full-fledged enterprise device.
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, in a statement via video at the event, said that together the companies are "driving enterprise users from informed to empowered." Ballmer added, "Motorola is a valued partner for Microsoft, and the ES400 exemplifies the best of what can be achieved when companies like Microsoft and Motorola work together."
The ES400 is built on Microsoft's Windows Mobile 6.5 platform, but Ballmer announced that in the next six months, Microsoft will release Windows Embedded Handheld, an OS based on Windows Mobile 6.5. Later, in the second quarter of 2011, it will release an updated version of the OS, built on Windows Mobile 7.
The decision to create the Handheld OS, instead of just focusing on Windows 7, was based on the different needs of each system's users, said David Kelley, product unit manager of Microsoft's Windows Embedded division. The two systems "tend to use the same core technologies," Kelley said, but while Windows 7 is geared toward smartphones and puts an emphasis on business connectivity and business e-mail, "it's not necessarily in line with the different input methods and [rugged requirements]" that are a focus with Windows Embedded Handheld.
Motorola painted a picture of enterprises, with field service teams, having to choose between more expensive, very rugged solutions and consumer-grade products that either quickly break down or fall out of availability six months into a deployment. The day's announcement, said Motorola President Gene Delaney, was not just the device but "the road map for the future," which offers a "key differential" for anyone needing to deploy a solution and is asking, said Delaney, "'Where are you going to take me two, three years from now?'"
The ES400 comes with a three-year lifespan, and three years of support after that.
The device also features worldwide communications with a user-selectable 3.5G WAN of GSM HSPA or CDMA EVDO Rev A compatibility. It supports 802.11a/b/g for data and, in 2011, an application will allow for push-to-talk over VOIP (voice over IP).
The 3-inch-screen VGA color display features resistive technology, instead of multitouch, for enabling signature capture-and easier use when operating while wearing gloves. In addition to touch input, a stylus is included.
The ES400 is also military-spec 810G, which means that, unlike other Motorola handsets for the enterprise, it's unlikely to survive falls in deep water or being run over by a military vehicle, but it can take multiple falls from 4 feet and is more likely to survive a good deal of wind, rain and bumps than, say, an Apple iPhone or BlackBerry from Research In Motion.
A lot of thought also went into the user interface, which can, for example, be customized to offer quick access to most frequently used applications and features. Security features include a biometric fingerprint reader-almost unnoticeable on the back of the device, just over the 3.2-megapixel camera with auto-focus, which can also capture 1D and 2D bar codes. The fingerprint reader additionally speaks to the customizable nature of the ES400, as it can hold two sets of prints-one for IT and one for the user-or be programmed to unlock the device with an index feature swipe, for example, but launch a particular application with a ring-finger swipe.
The ES400 EDA runs a 600MHz ARM 11 processor and has 256MB of RAM with 1GB of flash and a microSD card sot for 32GB of extra storage. It measures 5.08 by 2.38 by 0.67 inches-though with an extended battery, the depth increases to 0.85 inch.
It will arrive later in 2010 through the Motorola EMS sales team, Sprint and members of Motorola's channel program.