Guest Column: Are you Overpaying for Wireless Data Collection Devices?

For those that feel Windows CE-based systems are overkill, wireless Linux data collection devices can provide streamlined, real-time inventory control with savings up to $1,000 per terminal


AML, for instance, has developed a dedicated terminal emulation mobile data collection device, the M7220, that's much more efficient than Windows CE devices. It avoids using precious battery power, memory or microprocessor time running a graphical operating system that's not needed for terminal emulation applications. As a drop in replacement for aging DOS terminals, it's preloaded with terminal emulation clients so there's no need to purchase or load additional software on the device.

There's minimal overhead in the device, compared to Windows. Without the power, memory or processing speed required to run the Windows operating system, there's initial cost savings. Instead of a touch screen or pen stylus, the device is operated by keyboard which makes it more robust.

"With a device like AML's, you'll get a full work shift of mobile data collection use without battery replacement or recharging," says West. "For basic terminal emulation, there's no need for third-party client software, and it functions well with as little as 32 megabytes of memory."

With the dedicated terminal emulation application running, users see the same host application screen they're used to seeing on their old DOS terminals, but benefit from newer, faster technology.

"If all you need is basic inventory capability, you can save about $1,000 per terminal by choosing a dedicated terminal emulation application over a Windows-based one," says Cook. "The savings come from a lower initial price, with less need for training and maintenance."

To improve its logistics and customer service, Power & Tel now uses about 100 wireless Linux data collection devices by AML throughout its international organization.

"Customers can track their orders in real-time from the time they're placed to the time they're shipped via our web-based extranet," says Power & Tel's Dominioni.

While the wireless devices are ruggedized for use in warehouse environments, they connect to any Windows, UNIX, i5/OS, or Linux host so they're easily deployed across a range of applications. Administrators can quickly configure settings on multiple terminals from their PC.

"The wireless devices have all the features we need without unneeded bells and whistles," says Matt Moye, Power & Tel's System Administrator. "Their reliability has made my job easier."

"The wireless devices help us fulfill our mission statement: 'to be our customers' most cost-effective way to have the right material, at the right place, at the right time, every time,'" concludes Dominioni.

About the Author: Del Williams is a technical writer based in Torrance, Calif.

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