What to consider when purchasing a rugged tablet for field workers

What to consider when purchasing a rugged tablet for field workers

Rugged tablets have become an integral part of a field worker’s toolkit. They are compact, intuitive, and can even outperform low-end laptops. The problem is there are hundreds of tablet models built for a wide range of purposes to choose from. If you don’t want to end up with a bad purchase, there are a few things you need to consider.

Ruggedness 

Taking tablets to a job site exposes them to certain accidents like cracked screens and bent frames to name a few. Therefore, one of the most important factors to consider in a smart tablet is durability.

Rugged tablet models are designed to reduce the likelihood of such accidents. They are equipped with shockproof frames, reinforced screen protectors, and temperature-resistant components to prevent damage. This enables tradies to work seamlessly in harsh conditions. For maximum durability, look for Australian-sourced rugged tablets with a MIL-STD-810G certification. This is a military-grade standard that indicates the tablet can survive high drops, extreme temperatures, and sudden vibrations.

IP rating

Another way to assess a tablet’s durability is through its ingress protection (IP) rating. The IP rating measures whether small particles (like dust) and water can get into the device and damage its internal components. This is represented by two digits: the first measures a device’s protection from solids while the second evaluates the tablet’s liquid protection.

Higher ratings are preferred to ensure the safety of your tablet in the field. Those who bring their devices in particulate-heavy environments like construction sites are recommended to have an IP65-rated tablet. This ensures the device is completely safe from dust contact and can withstand the impact of water jets for at least 15 minutes. Meanwhile, tradies who expect more water exposure should opt for an IP68-rated device because this can be submerged underwater for up to 30 minutes without failing.

Size and weight

Portability is crucial since workers will be holding tablets for long stretches of time. Most tablets are usually 7 to 10 inches (25.4 centimetres) wide, with larger models offering higher resolutions. The tradeoff for a better display, however, is it can be more cumbersome to carry around the job site.

Then there’s the weight. Tablet weight varies between 0.8 and 2.3 kilograms. Although lightweight devices are convenient, some models may not be ideal for rough environments. Which one is best for your trade is really a matter of preference. Have your field workers try different tablets first to avoid investing in a device that’s too bulky for their liking.

Hardware

When it comes to tablet hardware, there are three major components to keep an eye on:

  • Processor – The central processing unit (CPU) is the brain of the device. Generally, the higher the processing speed (measured in GHz) and the number of cores (e.g., quad-core), the better the performance.
  • Random-access memory (RAM) – This determines the tablet’s ability to multitask. A device with 6 to 8 GB of RAM is more than enough for running multiple applications in the field.
  • Storage – Rugged tablets offer between 64 GB and 1 TB of storage space. For those who need to take photos and install dozens of business-related apps, higher-capacity models are critical.

Battery life

A strong tablet should last a full working day on a single charge. Keep in mind that battery life is affected by the hardware, screen brightness, and the apps you’re running. If you rely on resource-intensive software, for example, you’ll usually want a device with a battery life of at least nine hours.

Software 

Your company’s operating system (OS) preferences play a massive role in what tablet model you purchase. For instance, if you have stricter privacy requirements and want tighter integrations with other Apple devices, iPad models are the way to go. If you want a more customisable platform with better multitasking capabilities and an optimised virtual assistant, Android tablets make the most sense. If you’re used to Microsoft devices and want the same capabilities as a laptop computer, opt for Windows tablets.

Beyond the OS itself, you should also consider the types of applications the tablet is compatible with. Make sure the tablet works with software your trade relies on like WorkBuddy, Microsoft Teams, and Xero, QuickBooks, or MYOB accounting systems.

Security

Top-notch devices must be loaded with hardened anti-malware and firewall protections to fend off common threats. They should also have biometric security systems (e.g., fingerprint scanner) to safeguard devices when field workers are in public areas. Mobile device management (MDM) tools are another vital element of a secure tablet. These allow you to track, secure, and even wipe lost or stolen devices. Finally, make sure the device has virtual private network (VPN) settings that allow users to set up secure connections on a public Wi-Fi network.

Price 

Rugged tablets range from $400 to $2,500 depending on the features and the level of durability you require. Budget tablets may be enough to run field apps, but they’re often susceptible to wear and tear. What you want is to find the right balance between performance, ruggedness, and price to ensure you’re getting the best value for your money.

Consult with WorkBuddy to find the right hardware for your needs and budget. We also offer a feature-rich field service management app that makes working on the go as seamless as possible. Call us today to learn more. 

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