October 27, 2017

Zebra launches Android-based rugged handheld

Mobile computer is built for small and medium-sized businesses in retail and hospitality sectors.

By DC Velocity Staff

Person using Zebra TC20
Zebra's newest Android-based handheld aims to balance cost and functionality to appeal to small and medium-sized businesses.

Mobile technology provider Zebra Technologies Corp. has launched a rugged handheld computer designed to run Google Inc.'s Android operating system (OS), the technology that many users are choosing for the latest generation of handhelds for enterprise applications, the firm said Thursday.

Lincolnshire, Ill.-based Zebra said its TC20 computer is designed to meet the needs of small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) in the indoor retail and hospitality sectors. To appeal to the SMB market's need to balance cost and functionality, the device offers a built-in barcode scanner and enhanced wireless connectivity, Zebra said.

The handheld is designed to offer a user interface similar to consumer smartphones, featuring a 4.3-inch screen and models with either all-touch or "touch and keyboard" screens.

The computer also supports "push to talk" functionality that allows users to perform voice communications over wireless networks, and can be outfitted with an attachment that supports radio frequency identification (RFID) tag reading, writing, and locationing, Zebra said.

The product is Zebra's latest rugged handheld computer designed to run Google's Android OS instead of software from Apple Inc. or Microsoft Corp. Microsoft currently has a huge share of that market but is planning to "sunset" its support for that software by 2020, triggering many business customers to transition to Android's offering.

Earlier this month, Honeywell International Inc. rolled out a family of Android-base mobile handhelds it calls the "Mobility Edge Platform" that is designed for DCs, retailers, and transportation and logistics providers.

"Until now, small and medium-sized businesses had limited options: either struggling with the risk and frustration of using consumer devices, or running their operations manually with pen and paper," Joe White, Zebra's senior vice president, enterprise mobile computing, said in a statement. "The cost-effective TC20 gives SMBs a better choice while delivering a powerful customer experience."

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