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Zebra MC3190-Z

Business-class handheld RFID reader
(by Conrad H. Blickenstorfer)

In November 2010, Motorola, the enterprise division of which is now part of Zebra, introduced the MC3190-Z, a special version of their successful MC3100 (at the time, Motorola said that the MC3100's MC3000 predecessor had sold over 750,000 units in four years!). The MC3190-Z was also an update of the MC3090-Z that had been introduced just a year prior to address a very specific need, that of providing a rugged, reliable RFID reader for field service and business environments.

According to Motorola, the MC3190-Z is the smallest and lightest business-class RFID handheld reader in its class, roughly half the weight of a typical industrial equivalent reader.

The MC3190-Z also includes a dual-axis antenna that combines the advantages of two types of antennas: linear polarization for a longer read range or circular polarization for wider coverage. This concept had been pioneered in the predecessor MC-3090-Z.

The whole device is designed for versatile use in numerous high-growth application segments such as item-level traceability in retail and asset management. In addition, the unit's orientation-insensitive RFID data capture makes it ideal for item-level applications such as retail cycle-counting, inventory and asset tracking.

The MC3190-Z is powered by a 624MHz Marvell PXA320 processor, has 256MB of RAM and a gigabyte of Flash, and runs Windows Embedded Handheld 6.5.3. Its 3-inch square color display has (somewhat unique) 320 x 320 pixel resolution and a touch screen. It has a 48-key alphanumeric keypad. There is no mention of the SD slot which is part of the base MC3100. On the wireless side, the device can incorporate Bluetooth and dual 802.11a/b/g WiFi.

Despite its (relatively) small and handy size, the MC3190-Z is remarkably rugged. It carries IP54 sealing (good enough to handle dust, spills and the routine wipedowns required in healthcare and other challenging environments), can handle multiple 4-foot drops, and passed a rather stringent tumble test. It also has a wide 14 to 122 degree operating temperature range.

This special RFID version of the MC3100 family supports both regions based on European RFID frequencies (i.e., ETSI EN 302-208) as well as US RFID frequencies. Moto also points out that the device offers a unique combination of audible and visual cues to guide a worker to the location of any desired item. As the device moves closer to it, a tone beeps louder and faster, while a sliding graphical bar increases in size.

Specifications Zebra MC3190-Z
Added/changed Added 04/2013, updated 12/2015
Form-factor Rugged handheld RFID reader
CPU Speed Marvell PXA320/624 MHz
OS Windows Embedded handheld 6.5.3
RAM/ROM 256MB/1GB Flash
Card slots Apparently none
Display type Color TFT
Display size/res 3.0"/320 x 320 pixel
Digitizer/pens Touch/1
Keyboard/keys 48-key alphanumeric keypad
Navigation Directional control, triggers
Housing Impact-resistant plastic
Operating Temp 14° to 122°F (-10° to 50°C)
Sealing IP54
Shock Multiple 4-foot drops
Tumble 500 0.5 m tumbles (1,000 drops)
Size (WxHxD) 4.7 x 7.6 x 6.4 inches (119 x 193 x 160 mm)
Weight 23 oz. incl. battery and strap (650 g)
Power 3.7V, 4,400 mAH Li-Ion
Scanner Options: 1D laser, 1D/2D imager, RFID (EPC Gen 2 DRM)
Interface RS232, USB (host and client)
Wireless Dual-band 802.11a/b/g WiFi, Bluetooth
List price inquire
Web page Zebra MC3190-Z web page
Brochure Zebra MC3190-Z brochure