Investing in new rugged computers or tablets is an important decision, how well they fit the task at hand will have a major impact on the efficiency of the entire business. Make sure to choose a device that fits your needs, improves productivity and can handle the punishment that comes with the job. Here are 5 things you should consider before buying a rugged computer.
1 – Working environment & Ruggedness
There are different types of ruggedness and before buying a rugged computer you should consider what type of punishment your industry brings. Do you need devices that can deal with dust and water? Look at the IP rating, higher numbers mean a higher resistance. Every rugged computer will be branded as water resistant but there is a difference between rain and complete submersion.
Secondly, make sure the device is tested according to MIL-STD810, it’s a military standard containing a long row of tests. They’re all related to ruggedness in one way or another and show that you can actually trust the claims of the manufacturer.
Some of the tests are related to resistance to temperature, vibrations, and drops. These three are important to consider, are you working in extreme heat or cold? Will the device be used in vibrating vehicles? Finally, check the drop spec, from what height can the rugged computer be dropped without taking damage?
2 – Battery power
A rugged computer needs to be able to run for the full working day without running out of battery power. You might also want to consider picking a device with batteries that can be swapped, to make sure you never run out even if you forget to plug in the charger. Some even have so-called hot-swappable batteries, which means that you can change the battery without the device turning off. Definitely practical.
3 – Connectivity
Having the right type of connectivity is crucial for effective work. When it comes to communication, you obviously want BlueTooth, Wi-Fi and 4G but perhaps you should also consider a 5G-compatible device. Some industries might also want NFC while others are going to have to look into GNSS capabilities or perhaps even RTK, for highly precise location data. There are also the ports to consider, how many USB ports will you need and of what type? Is the rugged computer going to be used in a vehicle? Look for a docking connector.
4 – Functional design
To quickly narrow down your options, start by considering the size of the device. For some jobs, a big screen will be important while others are going to prioritize low weight. Do you need a bigger rugged tablet or a compact rugged handheld computer?
Physical buttons are another important design choice, do you need the full numeric keyboard or just a quick trigger for scanning? Keep in mind that a good rugged handheld should be equipped with a touch-screen that can be navigated in the rain, with gloves on. It’s another thing to check for and perhaps you won’t need any buttons at all.
5 – Accessories
The right accessory can make a huge difference in both efficiency and a safe, ergonomic working environment. A wrist mount can free up both hands while a pistol grip and holster make scanning a breeze. Vehicle docks, cradles and different types of mounts, there are many ways to customize the tool for the job. Make sure that the rugged computer is surrounded by a good ecosystem of accessories.