Hands-on review: Endress+Hauser Field Xpert SMT70
The Endress+Hauser gang sent us the new Field Xpert SMT70 to review at Visaya, plus some devices to test connectivity with different brands and protocols! How cool is that?
We took this chance to shoot a video and write this article. We’ll also have a regular product review later. Okay, let’s take a look at the Field Xpert SMT70 and share some thoughts about its usability, features, interoperability, and more!
The tablet feels even better than a standard handheld. Yeah, I said that. Most people already know how to handle tablets, so it feels familiar when you pick it up for the first time.
The Field Xpert SMT70 uses Windows, and maybe you have the dreaded freeze in mind right now. However, did you know that many handhelds on the market run on Windows? Yep. So no excuses there.
I like Apple devices, so some Windows features took me a bit longer to find, but I didn’t struggle. I tell you, this tablet offers more speed than a handheld without a good user interface.
The hardware comes from another company but who cares, because the software makes most of the difference. Of course, depending on your segment, you may need certain approvals to tote this device around your site, right? The Field Xpert SMT70 has approvals to work in hazardous areas as well as shock resistance, radio approval, and a few others.
In general, the tablet can run central and additional tasks just fine. It also has high-resolution cameras, a barcode scanner, Intel Core i5, eight gigabytes of memory and a bunch of other goodies that’ll turn this post into alphabet soup. Click here if you want a closer look at its details.
Its dimensions (11.4 by 7.48 by 0.78 inches) are okay. It might get a little awkward holding it with one hand. We performed our testing in a comfortable place, so we had no problem. However, in the field you might want to consider the optional shoulder strap.
So many protocols, so few available on most devices. Sad but true. Some companies have more than one on-site protocol, so field engineers would love a tool with more than one protocol. Today, you can find a few such communicators, like the Genii from GE or MC6 from Beamex. However, most only have HART or HART + FOUNDATION Fieldbus (FF).
On the upside, the SMT70 can communicate with PROFIBUS, HART, FF, Modbus and Endress+Hauser’s proprietary interfaces.
On the downside, you can’t power up devices using the tablet like you can with some handhelds. Let’s hope we see this feature in the near future, as it helps cut the clutter on device setups.
Lastly, the Bluetooth Viator pokes along compared to the cable connection. Maybe the Bluetooth 5 can fix that. But for now, I prefer the wired HART interface, period.
The software definitely deserves a mention here. The elegant design clearly favors tablet users, with its big buttons and clear options.
As soon as you open the app, you can connect automatically or manually. But if you’re going manual and connect the interface, most of the time the app will identify it and change the color from blue to the pink of automatic. Just press a button and you’ll have your connection ready for use!
We had an interface and device from VEGA, but we couldn’t connect automatically because the SMT70 lacked the DTM and CommDTM fields. So we downloaded the files from VEGA’s website. In a couple of clicks, we had the device finding the interface. Easy peasy.
However, while we have SMT70’s software optimized for tablets, the DTM – eh, not so much. It makes some options very small, so you’ll misclick a few times. However, you’ll get the hang of it and do that less often.
The developers wisely included a keypad on the right, so that makes things easier.
The sum of the hardware and software makes the new SMT70 an excellent option. You can use this tool to set up with many field protocols, and you have the freedom to install new apps and beef up this tablet.
On the downside, the power option makes for a weak point here against other tools on the market like the AMS Trex and the Genii. However, the SMT70 has more pros than cons.
I hope this tool can become a standard. I’d love to see other software from Endress+Hauser combined to offer a better user experience to installations around the world.