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Using Consumer Grade Devices Could Cost You More

For a business to be truly competitive in today’s global economy, companies need to discover new ways to supply their workforce with the proper information, at the right time and in the correct manner. It is equally important to be able to do all of this at a cost that doesn’t harm your bottom line. With all of this at stake it’s critical that you carefully consider what type of technology you need and what the cost will be.
Rugged vs Consumer Devices
One option that is usually overlooked at first, is whether or not you should invest in a rugged vs consumer devices. Rugged tablets are often overlooked due to their initial price tag. What you need to consider is that rugged tablets provide peace of mind for your mission critical information. Rugged tablets are built to withstand the demands of a truly mobile workforce. They are waterproof, dustproof, shock and drop certified.

For years, durability hasn’t always been a key decision point when looking at computing technologies. In the past, computers were either placed on a desk or carried by professionals in laptop cases. Rarely did computers ever make it out to the factory floor or need to be handled by workers directly on the job. However, recently computing has become more and more evident in a number of industries as the demand for real-time information has increased.

The cost to support and secure regular mobile wireless devices skyrockets each time a device needs attention, which can be for any number of reasons including liquid spills, drops, extreme temperatures and many other extreme conditions you won’t find in an office.

The cost of having your company’s IT administrator perform the required maintenance can further increase the overall cost of a non-working device. Independent studies have shown that the “per instance” cost to an business exceeds $3,000 and is expected to grow 30% in the next 3 years.
Total Cost of Ownership
Total cost of ownership (TCO) is the total amount estimated to help business managers assess the costs related to the purchase of any capital investment, spread out over the life of the item. A TCO will assess not only the tangible, but intangible costs related to an item that an investment in is being considered.

Tangible and intangible costs are both to be considered when purchasing or investing in a major asset for any company. Tangible costs are those that are readily apparent, which are considered when buying any computing system. While intangible costs are those that are not apparent and come from the use and maintenance of the device throughout its life span.

Tangible Costs:

Purchase Price
Installation Costs
Implementation Costs

Intangible Costs When Your System is Damaged:

Lost Sales
Customer Service Impact
Data Loss
Employee Down Time
Customer Satisfaction Impact
Employee Morale
Time Wasted to Diagnose the Issue

Another major intangible cost is the percentage of time you will be without your device while it is being serviced outside of your company. Independent research indicates that when a non-rugged mobile computer spends more than 40% of its time outside of the company, traveling to the place of service, being serviced and then returning to your business. With this alone you can expect your annual failure rate to soar to more than 30% per device. Rugged tablets have a much lower failure rate at just less than 4% per year.

When you take into consideration the impact to a company with 20 mobile employees, there is a significant difference in the long-term costs of using consumer grade tablets versus using rugged tablets.

In addition to the long run cost savings that come with the rugged tablet, there is also the adaptability to your workforces environment to take into consideration.

Rugged tablets come with a magnesium alloy casing, inside and out, and anti-scratch, thermally reflective coatings to ensure the device can operate in a range of extreme weather conditions. Some rugged tablets also come with a foam packing system that provides flexible seals in the devices to expand and contract as required, to protect against dust and liquid. To ensure your device has the correct protection, buyers should look for tablets with an International Protection Rating, which ensures a device has been tested to meet specific standards.

Additionally, companies should consider the range of extreme temperatures that the device needs to work in. A rugged device can be built to operate in temperatures ranging from -20°C to +60 °C by using a Hard Disk Drive heating system and Hybrid Cooling System combining a passive and active cooling process to maintain a suitable operating temperature however extreme the weather. Regular consumer tablets are not typically built to operate in this wide range of temperatures.

Businesses also need to consider how the tablet will be used by their mobile workers. Field workers such as engineers often have to work in restricted spaces. Because of this, it is useful for the tablets to have features such as a strap to allow the worker to hold on to the device with one hand, while entering information with the other.

There are several options to choose from that will ensure your rugged tablet is seamlessly integrated into your company’s environment. Here are a couple of them:
Designed for Your Working Environment
Some considerations for companies, in the healthcare environment in particular, might be how easy the device is to keep clean. For example, some tablets in the healthcare industry have been designed so that they can be regularly wiped down with disinfectant to protect against the spread of viruses.

Display Screen

The display screen is one of the most important aspects of the rugged tablet you choose for your business. As well as being rugged and protected against scratching, the display technology should be carefully considered.

Resistive Touchscreen Panels

Resistive touchscreen panels are generally more affordable and work well with almost every stylus-compatible object. Resistive touchscreen panels are not affected by outside elements such as dust or water. They can be controlled even with gloves on, which makes them an excellent option for any rugged tablet. The resistive touchscreen panel is coated with a thin metallic electrically conductive and resistive layer that will cause a change in the electrical current which is registered as a touch event and sent to the controller for processing.

Capacitive Touchscreen

Capacitive touchscreen panels must be touched with a finger unlike resistive and surface wave panels that can use fingers and a stylus. Capacitive touchscreens are not affected by the outside environment and have high visibility and screen clarity. The screen is coated with a material that stores electrical charges. A small charge is drawn to the point of contact when the screen is touched. Circuits located at the corners of the panel measure the charge and send the information to the controller for processing.

Digitizer Touchscreen

The main benefit from having a digitizer touchscreen is the accuracy of the digitizer pen, which makes it possible for detailed drawings and signatures. However, the screen can not be controlled with fingers or hands because it requires a special digitizer pen. Digitizer touchscreens make use of electromagnetic induction technology, where the horizontal and vertical wires of the screen operate as both transmitting and receiving coils. The tablet generates an electromagnetic signal, which is received by the stylus. The wires in the tablet then change to a receiving mode and read the signal generated by the stylus. By using electromagnetic signals, the tablet is able to sense the stylus position without the stylus having to touch the surface, and powering the pen with a signal from the device means the stylus doesn’t need batteries.

Dual Touch

Dual touch is a combination between capacitive and resistive touchscreen with Digitizer technology. It enables the user to use the GUI with fingers as well as with a digitizer pen. The key benefit of this combination is the intuitive handling with the finger and the accuracy of a pen.

Multi Touch

Multi Touch is a method of input on a touch screen that allows two or more fingers to be used on the screen at the same time. Multi touch allows pinching and stretching gestures on the screen to control zooming. This screen is also pressure and gestures sensitive, which allows predefined motions to be recognised as commands to perform an action, such as rotate the object on the Z-axis.

The choice of display screen technology and materials is crucial to the ease of use and productivity of the user in your business. Capacitive, multi touch and resistive devices all have their usefulness depending on whether the user works predominantly outside or inside, is required to wear gloves or needs to capture client’s signatures.

In conclusion, when considering the proper tablet for their business, it is crucial for businesses to consider the increased ruggedness, flexibility, security and usage needs their organisation will demand from their devices. When you compare popular consumer tablets against the professional grade corporate tablets, it is clear that there are fundamental differences in the designs that should be given careful consideration.

To look at some rugged mobile devices available with AB&R, go to