Two things you should consider when purchasing a tablet for business

Most tablet purchasers already have a preference in mind for weight, screen size, battery life, looks, brand name, operating system and app selection.

But what are the two critical factors that should be considered first in any business tablet purchase?

1. Consumer Tablet or Business Tablet?

Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2Michael Archambault posted a great discussion on business vs consumer PCs over at Windows Phone Central. It is well worth reading if you are buying any PC for business use, including a Tablet PC.

In summary, consumer PCs are designed to:

  1. Look good on the shelf in the store
  2. Last for a year or two of light use
  3. To be scrapped after a short lifecycle.

On the other hand, it is not unusual to find a business grade PC in use 3, 4 or even 5 years down the track.

Fujitsu Lifebook T902On the other hand, Business PCs are designed to:

  1. Suit business needs with options like legacy ports, outdoor screens, mobile broadband and more.
  2. Last for at least 3 years (or more) of every day intense use
  3. To be repairable, serviceable and backed by a solid, responsive warranty
  4. To be recycled and reused into extended lifecycles.

Business tablets should be treated no different to laptops. If a tablet is doing the job it was implemented for there should be no need to replace it every year.

Responsible use of longer lifecycle computer hardware is better for the business bottom line and for the environment.

2. Rugged or Non-Rugged?

Tablet with cracked screenExtending on this principle, business tablet buyers also need to consider the environment that the tablet will be used in.

Tablets are designed to be highly mobile and most mobile environments are extremely demanding. Sunshine, rain, dust, dirt, hot, cold, bumps and knocks are just a few of the environmental factors that business tablets come into contact with every day.

Most tablets – business or consumer – are simply not designed for these environments. Unfortunately the simplistic solution ofMotion J3600 rugged tablet in useten employed badly by companies is to put a consumer tablet into a rugged casing.

However, a consumer tablet in a rugged case falls woefully short of meeting users needs. Just a few of the limitations of a ruggedized case are:

  1. Screen visibility is diminished to an unusable level
  2. Touch and pen input is interfered with
  3. Port access is compromised
  4. Mounting options are unusable.

There are much better options available in the form or rugged tablets.

Rugged tablets are designed to:

  1. Be used and easily readable outdoors
  2. To limit dust, water and liquid ingress to prevent failure
  3. To resist drops and knocks and remain operational
  4. To last through a long lifecycle of 3 or more years.

20130117_151939The cost of a rugged, business grade device is always higher than a consumer device but the solution is nearly infinitely more productive. That’s because the rugged device is designed for the environment, and not shoe-horned into it.

Additionally – as with business grade devices – parts and service continue to be available for these devices many years after the warranty runs out.

For example, the Motion computing F5 series has run for over 7 years now, but power adapters, pens, batteries, docking stations and peripherals are all still available for the original devices.

This month a customer came in to replace one of the original F5 models that had been in service every working day for 6 years. Here is a picture of it:

Original Motion F5 6 years later

The replaced it with a newer model Motion F5t of course!

My original iPad has had the equivalent of about 3 weeks of light use over 3 years and it looks a lot more banged up than this 6 year old Motion F5.

Not every job demands a rugged device of course. Nor does every tablet need to be a business grade tablet. But you should be asking the questions before you start your mobility project.

A business grade or rugged tablet might seem expensive when compared to a consumer options, but…

Short term thinking is always expensive.

Too many times we hear people say that you could buy three or four consumer tablets for the price of one rugged tablet. The answer is usually, “yes, you will.”

If you are thinking seriously about the complete lifecycle of your upcoming tablet project, then you should talk to us.