MobileLot Device & Equipment Notes
Android Device Notes
Due to the fact that the Android® operating system runs on a wide variety of devices, made by a multitude of different manufacturers, there is no way to guarantee that
MobileLot will work perfectly and 100% on each and every device due to potential glitches, bugs and incompatibilities that only the device manufacturers have control over. Especially as some manufacturers tend to rush devices to market. It has however been our findings that
MobileLot works perfectly on the majority of large screen Android® phones and tablets.
We strongly suggest that prior to purchasing a device for use with
MobileLot, that you test it on the device in the store prior to purchasing it. Verizon Wireless® is great about letting (potential) customers install apps on their in-store devices. We're not sure about other carriers willingness to allow this.
We advise that after installing the app on an in-store device, that you use the demo login on it (Account ID 0 (zero) and password demo). Then use the app to, at a minimum, do the following functions:
- Take a good 5-10 photos
- Select to Print stickers to make sure that they download and display completely. If you need vehicles in the vehicle list for demoing purposes, use the "Import" menu option from the main vehicle list to import sample vehicles. We understand that you won't be able to actually print them in-store, but the device should open Adobe® Reader or some other PDF viewing app so that you can confirm proper download and display.
- Rigorously scroll through the various equipment lists to insure the device doesn't crash on long lists.
Below is a list of reported proven and problematic devices. Keep in mind,
MobileLot is running on many different devices, however, very few people actually let us know their experiences. If you have a proven or problematic device, or a successful equipment combination, please let us know so that we may add it to the list.
Proven Android Devices
- Acer Iconia Tablet (application developed and fully tested on this device)
- Samung Galaxy S Vibrant
- Samung Galaxy S4
- Samung Galaxy S5 (application developed and fully tested on this device)
Problematic Android Devices
- Motorola Droid 3 As of 10/2011, there were problems with the Motorola Droid 3's camera and some force close issues. It is an issue with that device in general, not just an issue with that device and MobileLot. Motorola must release a bug fix. Prior to purchasing this device, be sure to install the app on a device in the store and take a handful of pictures with MobileLot to check and see if they have corrected the issue.
- HTC Rezound Client reported on 9/14/2012 that the VIN Scanner cannot scan VIN's because when the device invokes the VIN scanner the scanning section of the screen is a square box scanning window instead of a rectangle.
- Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 (Wi-Fi) 8GB 10/9/2012 client reporting getting the following messages when trying to install from the Play Market; "This app is incompatible with your Samsung GT-P3113", "This item is not compatible with your device".
- HTC It has been our experience that HTC devices tend to self-destruct after a year or so.
Screen Sizes / Phone or Tablet
When it comes to choosing whether to select a large screen phone or a tablet, our personal views are:
- Tablets are easier to type on for most people, unless you're a teenager.
However, under normal circumstances, you won't really be doing that much typing due to the optional VIN decoder and the easy to tap picker lists.
- A large screen phone is much easier to carry around than a tablet is, plus, you can use it as a phone rather than carrying around both a phone and a tablet. However, there is the possibility that incoming phone calls could tend to interrupt your work (scanning VIN's, taking photos, printing, etc) too often.
- A "pro" of using a tablet is that, due to the larger screen size, it is easier to navigate the WebLot backend in a browser if you ever have the need to login to WebLot to make adjustments or check on things.
- If you choose to use a phone, make sure it is a large screen phone as small screen phones just won't work as there is not enough screen real-estate for everything to fit.
WiFi & WiFi Mobile Hot Spots
We suggest that if possible, you get a 4G device rather than a 3G one. The difference in the speed of the data network is as clear as night and day. Considering that you'll be using the device to upload hundreds, if not thousands of vehicle photos each day, the vast speed increase of 4G is definitely desirable and will save you a ton of time.
Information is slow coming in from clients in regard to what they are using, as most clients don't report this informtion to us. However, we would imagine that most all mobile hot spots offered by wireless carriers would work for allowing a WiFi printer to connect to them and thus be able to print and have Internet access both from that WiFi mobile hot spot. Just be sure to check with them prior to making a purchase.
- Sprint Mobile Hot Spot (model # and mfg unknown) working great with Samsung Galaxy S Vibrant and late model HP Color Laserjet WiFi printer using HP e-Print.
To print from a mobile device, both the mobile device and the printer must be on the same WiFi network. This is generally done via a WiFi hot spot device which you may obtain from a wireless provider. Using your mobile device WiFi hot spot has been known to work with some devices, however, your results may vary.
When printing from iPhone, iPad or iPhone, an Apple AirPrint capable printer is desired. The app is only able to print directly to AirPrint. To use HP ePrint or another manufacturers printing app, you must choose the "View" option rather than "Print" and select print from that menu choice.
With iOS 7.x, a new issue has arisen where when enabling "Personal Hotspot" users get the message "Wi-Fi is Off. Personal Hotspot will only be available over Bluetooth and USB". This is because in order for other devices to connect to your Wireless Hotspot the devices wireless antenna must be on and it is only turned on when WiFi is turn on. However, when turning WiFi on your device may either try to connect to a WiFi network you have previously connected to, or think you do not have an Internet connection if it fails to connect to a WiFi network. To resolve the problem, turn WiFi on. If your WiFi settings on the iOS device show you are connected to a WiFi router, or show anything other than "Not Connected", tap the WiFi network you are connected to in your iOS settings and tap the Info icon. Then tell it to "Forget this Network". You should then be able to have Internet connectivity over 4G and your printer should also be able to connect to your Hotspot WiFi network.
Since smart phones and tablets can't directly connect to a printer like a computer can, they require a specialized app in order to be able to print.
Of all of the apps on the Google Play/Android Market that we've reviewed, we've only found one that really works with the majority of printers... PrinterShare®. PrinterShare can print to most WiFi and Bluetooth printers. It also has a web printing feature which we'll touch on a bit later in this article. For a list of printers that PrinterShare® supports, click here. One warning about PrinterShare; From our experience it can run into rendering problems from time to time when they update their PDF rendering libraries. It can also tend to be slower than apps like HP ePrint with some device/printer combinations. However, if you have a printer that does not have a native printing app, then PrinterShare is probably your only option.
Hewlett Packard® now has printers with a ePrint feature, and an app called HP ePrint If you want to use an HP printer, then this is a great way to go. We've heard good reviews about it working great with MobileLot, and HP makes great printers. However, keep in mind, HP toners and inks "tend" to be a bit more expensive than many other manufacturers.
Many other printer manufacturers now offer their own Android® apps and mobile printing capabilities. You'll just need to check for that type of functionality within a given brand when shopping for a printer.
The Illusive Obvious: When considering any printing app, whether it be PrinterShare®, HP ePrint®, or another manufacturers app, read the Google Play/Android Market reviews! What a great thing... others can tip you off to if it is great, or if it is an utter failure, thus saving you time, money, and frustration.
One of the problems with WiFi is, you're going to need a wireless router, and not only is your printer going to have to be connected to that router, that routers is also going to have to have an Internet connection, otherwise, you'll have a device that can print, but can't connect to the Internet to upload photos or download stickers. This is a fine option for dealers who are always at the same location, however, in most cases, it's not a good fit for a window sticker printing company who is changing locations all day... not unless they can get a wireless Internet hot spot router in their vehicle that their printer can also plug into.
Bluetooth is a considerably slower connection than WiFi, which means it's going to take longer to send print jobs to the printer, but Bluetooth doesn't require you to have a printer connected to a router in order to print. This generally makes Bluetooth a better match for window sticker printing companies.
Another option which may work for some people is this: PrinterShare allows you to print to a web printer. If a window sticker company has a notebook computer in their vehicle with a printer attached, and that computer has an Internet connection, then you can send print jobs to it from any device that has an Internet connection. In that case, you could be blocks or miles away from the printer and use the Internet connection on your mobile device to send the print job to the Internet reachable computer, which in turn would pass the print job to the printer that is attached to it.
Historically, laser printers have always been faster than inkjet printers. However, many inkjet printers are now faster than many lasers. One issue to consider is, Bluetooth laser printers are few and far between, while Bluetooth inkjet printers are plentiful. On the other hand, WiFi laser printers are fairly plentiful. Also keep in mind, generally speaking, lasers provide the best print quality and stand up better to the elements such as sun (fading) and rain (possible running). It really comes down to, how are you going to have to connect to the printer. If you can have WiFi access to your printer (as explained in the WiFi or Bluetooth section), we suggest a laser. If that is not possible, then chances are, you'll need to use a Bluetooth printer.
As a final note on printer selection, many people overlook one important aspect in choosing a printer; How much are the replacement toner or ink cartridges? For the most part, as long as you can print, name brand really has little to do with picking the right printer, because, if you're going to be printing quite a bit of volume, any printer is going to wear out within a year or perhaps two. However, how much are you going to be paying for Brand X's ink/toner compared to Brand Y's ink/toner? Printers are really fairly inexpensive. When you wear one out, anymore you just throw it away. However, ink and toner... that's where the continual month after month expenses are, and those expenses add up quickly.
There's really no hard and fast rule for what kind of router, hot spot, printer connectivity, ink or laser, etc. Especially with how quickly new mobile products and technologies are hitting the market. It's probably a good idea to check with your carrier from time to time to see what new offerings they have to meet your needs, such as mobile hot spots with USB or network connections for printers. It all comes down to your preferences and what kind of work environment you're going to be in. Our goal in this articles has just been to shed some light on things in order to help you make the best choice for your business.
Questions? Call us at (800) 615-9981