Symbol Technologies MC50

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Symbol Technologies MC50
  • Symbol Technologies MC50
  • Symbol Technologies MC50
  • Symbol Technologies MC50

Pros

  • Native Wi-Fi, Durable design

Cons

  • No Bluetooth, Expensive, Below average battery life

Bottom Line

Not ideal for personal usage, the MC50 is designed to facilitate mobile computing offering PDA features in a rugged design. While the unit is solidly built and includes native Wi-Fi, the presence of a scanner adds significantly to the price.

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The MC50 from Symbol Technologies is directly targeted at medium to large enterprise consumers to cater for mobile computing applications. Symbol is best known for their data scanning and reading products, and the MC50 continues this theme, one version shipping with an inbuilt data scanner.

The idea behind the MC50 is to unchain workers from their desks, giving them access to real time information while out in the sales field, participating in meetings or out on the shop floor. While this may sound exactly like what most other PDAs do, the MC50 is unique with its durable and rugged design and data reading capabilities. There are multiple configurations of the MC50 available, two with a bar code reader, another with a 1 megapixel camera and also the option of attaching a magnetic swipe card reader.

The MC50 is quite large and bulky, although there are versions available with or without a QWERTY keyboard. Still, this is on the larger side of the PDAs we have seen and is also quite heavy, clocking in at around 200 grams. The unit is industrial in appearance, with a dark grey finish and stands in stark contrast to the sleekly designed silver and black models being churned out in the past few months. Buttons for the shortcuts are on either side of unit, an SD slot and headphone jack are positioned at the top with a USB 1.1 connection placed on the bottom.

The front of the MC50 is dominated by its large screen, and while we appreciated its size, this wasn't the best quality display we have seen and was prone to glare. The keyboard is placed under the screen and while it may at first look rather complicated, we found it using it quite intuitive. The buttons are rather small though, and do need somewhat of a firm press to register. We also liked the presence of easy to access shortcuts on the keyboard, which saved us the trouble of navigating through system menus.

Although the MC50 runs on an older processor, we felt it handled Windows Mobile 2003 without any difficulty. All the usual Office applications are included on this unit, as well as the standard organiser functions, and 64MB of RAM is available for data storage. The unit can also use data from an SD card, but to get to the slot, you have to unscrew the cover manually and screw it back on. While this seems like a hassle at first, it is line with the 'rugged and durable' theme from Symbol, and prevents dirt or dust from entering into the slot.

The MC50 is well represented in the connectivity stakes, supporting both Wi-Fi and Infrared. Unfortunately, support for Bluetooth is any form is missing, which seems quite odd, considering that just about every PDA these days includes it. A USB 1.1 port is available for wired synchronising.

In order to protect your data from a power loss, the MC50 includes a backup battery that takes its power from the main lithium ion battery. Thus when the main battery is removed or dies your data won't be lost. If the backup battery also dies however, then no data is retained.

The MC50 ships with rather an unusual charging cradle. There is a slot for the PDA to be fitted and a slot on the end for the battery. Essentially this means the battery is taken off the PDA and charged separately, although you can use the PDA in the stand with the battery removed. While at first we thought this quite odd, we can see the logic as if you have two batteries, you can be using one in the MC50 and have the other one charging. Most other models require you to have the battery in the PDA when charging, meaning the PDA must be in the cradle even if you have two batteries.

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