We opened up the mic last week for everyone wishing to ask Motion Computing about their new J3400 and whatever else might be on your mind. The community certainly responded well and submitted some really good questions: touch and usage scenarios, LS800, small form factor devices, the mobile keyboard, J3400 usage scenarios, portrait vs landscape on the J3400, the history behind the “Bradstreet” codename, and much more. We are pleased to present Motion’s answers to your questions. Special thanks to Motion Computing for making this opportunity available.
Motion Computing: First, thanks so much for your questions. We’re excited about the opportunity to answer them for you. But first a side note. As much as we would like to, we can’t comment or speculate about future products for a number of reasons:
- We don’t want our competitors to know what we are doing before we do it.
- We may be in discussions with vendors about exclusivity, etc. and publically committing to a product might impact our ability to get an agreement done.
Additionally, there are a lot of steps between concept to manufacturing and we don’t want to announce anything new until we are absolutely sure we will deliver it to the market.
Mike Stinson Ã¢â‚¬” VP, Marketing
Now, to the questions and answers!
Steve S: Is a pen & touch version of the J3400 seen as a future product? If not, what is Motion’s rationale regarding touch in the business environment?
We are continuing to actively investigate touch on our products. To date, we haven’t found a solution that supports the way our customers work and provides the right combination of performance, visibility, reliability and cost.
From a usage model standpoint, most of our large business users aren’t asking for dual or multi-point touch, they seem to be more interested in touch as a navigation tool (instead of a mouse or stylus). Many of them are also using gloves (latex for healthcare or leather for the field), which leads to resistive touch rather than capacitive touch as the best solution.
In addition, most of the applications that users are running aren’t optimized for touch, let alone dual-touch. There are a lot of really interesting developments happening in this area, and we talk about touch almost every day.
Rob O: I’d like to know if they plan to update their C5 to include dual batteries. That’d be a huge plus for us! We like the C5s and we’re bound via an app that hard-coded to work with only that tablet, so even if we wanted to get a wandering eye towards some of the similar offerings that feature dual batteries, we really can’t.
We aren’t announcing any plans to offer dual batteries at this time. People often use dual batteries as short hand for being able to change batteries without having to reboot the system. You can do this now with the C5 or F5. Put it in the dock, take the charged battery out of the charging slot, remove the battery from the C5, replace with charged battery, grab and go. This probably takes less than 30 seconds. Because our battery charges in about 90 minutes, it will be fully charged before you need to swap again. You can support 24 hour operation with just two batteries. On a hospital floor, this model works very well. We are also announcing a single bay charger later this month. By using this with a docking station, you could keep a number C5s running without ever rebooting.
We know that battery life is important to our customers, so we continue to explore power management capabilities for all of our products.
I’d be really interested in any design updates that they have planned for the C5 – maybe making the handle a bit more ergonomic?
I can’t talk about any changes to the C5, but we are pretty happy with the ergonomics of the handle. I’d like to know what specific issues you are having or how you’d like to see it changed.
tabletdude: I am an LE1700 owner and I do like it a lot. However I would like to see better wacom tablet implementation. Do they plan for better wacom implementations (better coordination, better pressure sensitivity etc) sometime soon?
We believe that pen accuracy and pen performance of Motion tablets has consistently been better than any other solutions out there and are well received by our users. We’d be very interested in hearing any of your comments or suggestions.
- John Doherty, VP of Advanced Product Development
Dreux Issac: I see there are built in screws at two corners which can be attached to a shoulder strap. Are there screws at the other two corners? In my field work I use a shoulder strap and often prop the bottom of the tablet (in portrait mode) against my body to free up one hand.
The attach points are only at the bottom of the unit. We envision users letting it hang upside down in the WorkAnywhere kit and flip it up to enter data. Your usage model makes a lot of sense as well. If history is any guide, one of our partners will design a strap/harness to do exactly what you are describing.
Jonndz: I would like to know if there will be a refresh of the LE1700 that will include the latest offering from Intel like the SL9400 processor (hopefully) and a new SATA hard drive?
We don’t have any immediate plans to refresh the LE1700 with new processors or drive architectures that we are announcing today but the LE1700 has been a flagship product for us and we will continue to evaluate appropriate updates based on market requirements.
Frank: Why are the vents and USB connectors located at the bottom of the tablet? Don’t you block them when you hold the tablet in portrait mode or if you put it upright on a table, just as an example :) Or was the tablet for landscape mode only designed?
The tablet was designed for both portrait and landscape but we expect that most people will use it in landscape mode. If you look at the sides of the system, there really isn’t any empty space. We wanted to group the ports together so that we could seal them with the fewest number of doors and we didn’t want the air vent or the expansion slot on the bottom. We felt that was more likely to interfere with the way the system is used.
Another thing to consider is that people carrying the tablet in portrait mode don’t usually have cables or dongles connected. We chose to optimize for that usage pattern and to locate our wireless antennas away from the user for optimum wireless performance.
Sara Fauzia: All right, I have a few questions. Why doesn’t the mobile keyboard include a trackpoint-only model? Why couldn’t they do some type of Touch Book thing and enable the screen to actually lock into the keyboard, so it could swivel like a convertible tablet? I’m also an LE1700 owner; can previous Motion customers attain any discounts that would encourage them to upgrade to this product? Even if this isn’t, technically, an upgrade to the LE1700, I see it as one; it significantly improves the issue of the lack of a keyboard, it doesn’t use metal paint (I’ve mentioned the metal paint has all but chipped off of my tablet PC buttons), and it has a flush bezel, and is lightweight without the cost of battery life (with the LE1700, you have to use a large, heavy extended battery). Also, it’s using the latest technology.
Input devices are one of my favorite topics and we talked a lot about the change from a trackpoint to a touchpad. Here are some of our assumptions:
- People do not like to change pointing devices. Every new one has a learning curve and during that period the user feels less efficient and gets frustrated.
- Trackpoints are harder to learn how to use, but more efficient for power users.
- The installed base of touchpads is a lot bigger than the installed base of trackpoints.
- Touchpads can be designed to be more durable than trackpoints.
- Doing a keyboard with both options isn’t the best design for anyone.
So as you can see, it wasn’t a straightforward decision either way, both approaches have merits. Our belief is that the touchpad is the input format preferred by the largest number of likely users and that is why we decided to shift from the trackpoint to a touchpad.
We’ve looked a lot at different ways to attach the keyboard and they always get us closer and closer to convertibles. At that point, we force ourselves to stop and ask ““Who are the primary people we are designing for?Ã¢â‚¬Â The answer is people who walk, stand and compute. With that in mind, we design a system that is optimized to fit comfortably on your arm and to be as light as possible. We don’t expect the user to carry the keyboard with them more than 40% of the time. As a result, we focused on a keyboard that was easy to attach, easy to set up and wouldn’t get damaged when lying on the floor of a truck. That is why it has a clamshell design and attaches quickly and without mechanical switches. Be sure and check out our YouTube video to see more details about how it works.
Stuart: Are all the future tablets going to be at least semi-rugged? Is the J3400 supposed to target the same workers that use the F5?
It is likely that our products will be at least semi-rugged. The F5 and the J3400 may be used on the same site or by the same company but probably by people doing different jobs. The F5 is typically used for only 1-2 tasks (safety inspection, project management, materials management) whereas the J3400 is flexible enough to be used for general purpose office applications in addition to field specific applications.
Additionally, the J3400 expands options for our users that want a higher level of ruggedness built into the product, but also the flexibility offered by the ports, wide screen and integrated features Ã¢â‚¬” such as the GPS and digital camera.
Bristolview: The J3400 seems like a great product. Can we expect to see a higher resolution screen anytime soon? Many users of tablets use them in Portrait mode (See the number of Portrait post above in these comments!), and the WXGA screen means your portrait use will be only 800 pixels wide! That’s ummm, less great than the rest of the slate. Working in an 800 wide screen hinders many types of work, which would cause my crew to have a reduced productivity. (I know that some users would not be hindered by this low resolution, but we would be). The LE1700 supported SXGA, which was ideal. Hopefully, we’ll see this resolution again with the greatness of the other features of the J3400.
Motion is always looking at technology enhancements that can improve screen resolution, but also other factors such as viewing performance, weight, brightness and battery life, and I think that shows in the J3400 display technology. We had to have a balanced design and increasing resolution would impact weight, product size and battery life, which are key elements to our user base.
However, as technology continues to advance we’ll keep looking for ways to even further improve our displays.
Bristolview: Can an express card be inserted into the bay with the port cover in place? I’d like to insert an express card flash drive/ssd (secure data remains on card, travels with employee when slate stays at hotel). It would be nice to have the protection offered by the port covers, and still be able to insert a card. Possible or no?
No. You have to remove the port cover to insert the card.
Bristolview: I’m not familiar with the mil spec ruggedness definitions. One issue I’ve had is field use, and weather. I know the J3400 is not waterproof, but can it handle being out in a light rain? In a heavy rain? While still being used? It would be great to be able to continue to work even in a light to moderate rain (subjective I know, not sure how to quantify what is light or moderate I would not expect it to handle a complete downpour, my field workers won’t handle that either.)
The J3400 was tested for dust ingress protection and against water spray. It has a rating of IP52, where the first digit (5) defines the dust protection and the second digit (2) defines the protection and water spray. A number (2) digit is defined as the J3400 can withstand and has a water spray protection of < 15 degrees from vertical, which means it can handle being out in a light rain while in use.
Bristolview: What is the lowest power (volts & amps) required to charge a battery? Odd question I know. The reason I ask is to understand what the power requirements are to charge a single battery, for extended (multi-day) off grid use. You guessed it, the power sources are Wind, Solar and Crank (hate the crank). This is probably not too important to Motion, as this isn’t a Ã¢â‚¬Ëœuse case’ most of your customers have. Still, I’d like to know. (The ruggedness of this slate is desirable in this type of situation). And No, this is not my typical need. I am working on an extended off grid trekking event which will span approximately 15-20 days. Not typical for me either.
Sounds like an exciting trip, if you do decide to take a J3400 with you we’d love to see some photos upon your return and to hear about your adventure.
To help you figure out your charging challenge, voltage to the DC in connector needs to stay between 17.8V and 22.2V and about 1 AMP is required to charge the tablet when it’s turned off.
Any chance you’ll have access to a vehicle? We do have a car charger.
Bristolview: Is there an external battery charger? I saw that the dock has this capability. Being totally handheld, we don’t need the dock (Dock works great on a desk. Desk? In the field? Not going to happen). I do however have a need to charge batteries outside of the slate. Can’t really be plugged in while working, dual batteries allow slate to keep running all day swapping dead/charged batteries as needed. I didn’t see an external charger on the list of accesories.
We don’t offer an external battery charger at this time.
Thomas: only thing stopping me is capacitive touch / active digitizer screen and Win 7. I can even look over lack of options for 1.8HD. Any plan of that is in the works and be released by win 7 time frame?.
with Dell xt and hp tx out, I cannot imagine my next device without passive / active.
See the answer to Steve S, to summarize, we are constantly exploring touch, but we need to make sure that it provides the right combination of performance, visibility, reliability and cost. It does work great with Win7, however. I really like the new input panel.
PilotLS800: Corporate aircraft pilot and still using the LS 800 SSD in the airplane and it is getting dated. Motion sold thousands of LS 800’s until they discontinued them. They had ownership in this market (small form factors with a bright screen for pilots) until they pulled it. When is the 8.4Ã¢â‚¬Â³or 8.9Ã¢â‚¬Â³ JXXX coming? Do they see a need for a smaller form factor? I’ll pre-order if you can get any answer out of them, especially if it has an onboard GPS, ViewAnywhere, SSD, and last but nowhere close to least, a cooling fan this time (you could fry an egg on the LS800 without a USB fan).
As mentioned above, we can’t comment or speculate on future products for a number of reasons. That being said, we take customer feedback seriously and will take it into consideration in the development of future products.
Joe O’Laughlin: Why not a landscape tablet mode WITH HANDLE on the side for seated medical patients, instead of walking around medical professionals?
I’m not really sure what is being asked here. You can change the orientation of the C5 and have the handle on the side. Can you give me a little more of a description of the usage model?
C.M.: I also agree with PilotLS800 about LS800. I am really disappointed and still puzzled by Motion not updating fantastic line like LS800. The form factor is just amazing for slate. I am still waiting for Motion to update LS800 line. The dream machine will be LS800 with the Boe’s view anywhere screen, Wacom’s capcitive/touch screen, Gobi, GPS, SSD, fan and longer battery life. I think reinventing LS800 will be a very good move for Motion. Please do something!!! Plus, I know I am pushing it, but if OQO can do it I am sure Motion can do it too, OLED screen on LS800 will be totally awesome.
LS800 users Ã¢â‚¬” we love you and value you, but we aren’t going to preannounce a replacement product. We are wrestling with lots of issues around a smaller form factor and haven’t made a commitment to do any product smaller than the C5/F5 at this point. Some of the issues include
Atom vs. Dual Core
Screen size/resolution vs product size
Rugged vs commercial
Netbook convertible vs 9Ã¢â‚¬Â slate
Most importantly, who would we be designing it for Ã¢â‚¬” physicians, pilots, retail? It is critically important that we know who we are focused on before we start any project.
Rob Bushway: The J3400 is definitely targeted to those who are on their feet a lot more than, say, business professionals or artists. What has been their reaction to the J3400? Is that a market you are going to continue to target in the coming months and years, in addition to the rugged space?
The reaction to the J3400 has been overwhelmingly positive. As we are in the early stages of the product launch, we have focused most of our conversations on and gathered our feedback from our key vertical market customers and partners Ã¢â‚¬” construction, field sales and service, healthcare and inspections/appraisals (gov’t). Many other users find that the features of the J3400 (great display, rugged, easy to carry, etc.) help them do their work as well.
Rob Bushway: All products have codenames / project names. I understand the J3400 was codenamed “Bradstreet”. Can you tell us the story behind that codename?
As many high tech companies do, Motion has project names for products in development. We named a series of our projects over a year ago for American firsts. The project name that was chosen for the J3400 is Bradstreet, named after Anne Bradstreet who is recognized as the first important American Poet.
Rob Bushway: Who are you liking in the digitizer capacitive touch space?
We can’t comment on that as we are still in negotiations with a number of vendors.