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Motorola Unwraps New Rugged Handheld

Motorola today unveiled a new mobile handset targeted at the field service worker and boasting some key enhancements.

Chief among those new features in the Motorola (NYSE: MOT) MC9500, introduced today at a press event in New York City, is the ability for enterprise users to select the 3.5G network that best suits their needs -- so far-flung businesses can deploy the same wireless device despite differences in coverage areas.

The MC9500 thus becomes the first Motorola field computer using 3.5G WAN for faster wireless broadband connections, and that also includes universal support for GSM, HSDPA, CDMA and EVDO Rev. A, according to the company.

Known as Motorola MAX FlexWAN, this cellular network flexibility allows businesses to issue a single pool of mobile computers that will provide the best coverage for users in different geographies, Motorola said.

Designed for the transportation, parcel/post, public safety and delivery industries, the Motorola MC9500 also builds on the company's initial model, the MC9000, by adding new battery management technology and an accessory system to organize space for charging cradles, power packs and cables.

The MC9500 is also the first handset based on Motorola's second-generation mobility architecture. It runs Windows Mobile 6.1 and has a Marvell XScale PXA320 processor that runs at 806 MHz.

The updated model also includes an accelerometer that switches screen capture modes between landscape and portrait and aides in signature capture, useful for delivery companies. The MC9500 is equipped with a laser scanner, 2D imager and 3-megapixel color camera, with the aim of facilitating scenarios like enabling users to document condition of delivery.

GPS is also provided, along with Wi-Fi support. A microSD slot supports up to 16GB of expansion storage.

The MC9500 also incorporates interactive sensor technology (IST) -- a new Motorola feature that supports a host of motion-sensing applications.

For example, enterprises can increase worker accountability by detecting and logging device drops. In addition, the IST improves power management by enabling the device to automatically revert to sleep mode when not in use or if the display is face down.

Motorola has not yet disclosed pricing and shipping dates for the MC9500.

The offering is the latest out of Motorola's enterprise mobility solutions division, which offers the MC9500 and other rugged handhelds. In recent quarters, the unit has performed better than the company's consumer division, which is reeling from dips in mobile revenue.

To address this, Motorola last week unveiled the Cliq, an Android-powered smartphone, slated to go on sale in time for the holiday season. The Cliq is the first in an expected family of new handsets, which Motorola is hoping will help resuscitate its slumping consumer sales.

Motorola's mobile device sales totaled $1.8 billion in the second quarter, down 45 percent from a year ago. It shipped 14.8 million handsets, a modest jump from the 17.7 in the first quarter, but still significantly down from the 28 million it sold a year earlier. The company also reported a 5.5 percent global market share.