I chose the latter and got nine and a half hours of non-stop music with the screen forced to stay on. A low battery warning came after six and a half hours. In the real world this would give any worker close to half a day to find a power source. Given that the MC35 charges over USB we are talking mains, a car or a USB charge/sync cable as charging options.
I also like the fact that the MC35 uses SD cards to expand on the internal memory. The slot is on the top edge of the casing and protected by a rubber cover. The 41MB of storage memory my review device reported after a hard rest can easily be expanded using this non-fiddly (and cheap) flash card format.
There’s a 2.5mm headset jack. Normally I’d complain about this as I think even professional users have the right to listen to some tunes from time to time, and a 3.5mm jack lets them ditch the provided headset easily. But the market is different for a ruggedised handheld and the headset jack is really only intended for handsfree voice calls, so I am relaxed about the jack size.
There are several versions of the MC35. All have Bluetooth, infrared and a GPS antenna. You can variously also choose to have Wi-Fi and/or a camera making four variants in all. The camera is a simple 2-megapixel one, with a small LED flash unit to assist with indoor photos. You can even switch the camera into barcode reading mode if this is something that you, or more likely your business needs.
Rugged or semi-rugged handhelds aren’t everybody’s cup of tea, and have a finite set of markets. Looks are less important than ergonomics, though they shouldn’t be thrown out of the window completely. In this case the looks are pretty uninspiring, but more significantly the mini joystick makes navigation less intuitive than it could be. Maybe Motorola will add a little something to the mix here (though hopefully not flat keyboards).
On the plus side, battery life is outstanding, and that’s going to be paramount to the kind of business user who spends most of their time out in the field.