Rugged tablet popularity is rapidly increasing. These devices are used in a wide range of industries and may even change the generally accepted standard of work. If you’re wondering exactly what is a rugged tablet, we’re here to provide you with detailed information on the topic. Below, you’ll find out the definition of a rugged tablet, common features, how such devices are used by professionals, and what makes them a good investment.
- Understanding the Definition
- Functionality of Rugged Tablets
- What is a Rugged Tablet?
- Where are Rugged Tablets Used?
- How Much Do Rugged Tablets Cost?
- Choosing the Right Rugged Tablet
Understanding the Definition
A rugged tablet is an industrial device in a tablet form that meets certain requirements, especially in terms of protection against extreme and rough environments. To have rugged tablet features it needs to be a tablet that showcases a rugged shell and can withstand extreme temperatures, drops, jolts, and much more. Such devices often hold a military-grade protection certificate. They may run on any operating system, be it Android, Windows, or other.
The Functionality of Rugged Tablets
Rugged tablets may differ significantly in terms of functionality, but they do share some physical features:
- IP dust and water protection protocols. These ratings typically contain two digits. The first one represents solid particle protection. 0 stands for no protection against object ingress. In rugged tablets, ratings should start with 6. The second digit represents liquid ingress protection. So, 0 means complete lack of protection against water while the maximum mark, 9, indicates that the device can withstand high water pressure and soaking in even harsh chemical liquids.
- MIL-STD certification. This military-grade protocol indicates that a device has gone through environmental resistance testing. This includes vibration, shock, pressure, thermal, and more tests. As opposed to the IP rating, where higher digits represent higher protection, MIL-STD certification doesn’t have such a straightforward indication system. Digits represent which type of testing has been conducted, as certain devices and machinery require different conditions. MIL-STD 167 tests shipboard equipment, while MIL-STD 901E is high-impact shock testing for machinery used mainly on submarines. The standard applied to rugged handheld devices is MIL-STD 810. The certification means that a device has been tested for humidity, shock, explosive atmosphere, leakage, salt fog, ballistic shock resistance, and several other conditions.
- Physical elements that add to the ruggedness. This includes Gorilla Glass protection, durable materials, improved thermal dissipation, and more. Touchscreens are often readable under direct sunlight and recognize gloves and wet fingers for increased usability. Many rugged tablets feature scanners and sensors that can’t be found in regular tablets. These functions are necessary as rugged devices are generally used in industrial production, warehousing, construction works, etc. Batteries used in rugged tablets are significantly stronger than those used in consumer tablets. They’re made to last the whole working day, making a rugged tablet a perfect option for any professional.
What Is an Ultra-Rugged Tablet?
Generally speaking, ultra-rugged devices, such as the Sonim RS80 Tablet, are practically indestructible. They are designed to withstand the worst conditions. Often, ultra-rugged devices are fanless, sealed, and undergo testing far beyond the requirements of fully rugged devices. Such devices tend to cost more than fully-rugged or semi-rugged options.
Ultra-rugged tablets have incredible versatility and can work in the most extreme environments. For example, professionals working under the desert sun or on the North Pole can use rugged tablets in their daily work processes. Naturally, regular consumers don’t need an ultra-rugged device, as it often comes with certain downsides. Such tablets are generally heavy due to a larger battery and may have less powerful RAM or processors.
Where Are Rugged Tablets Used?
Rugged tablets can be used in a wide range of industries, such as:
Rugged tablets often feature barcode scanners, can last all day without charging, and provide other functions found in a proper computer. As regular tablets, rugged options also provide delivery drivers with tools to contact the warehouse and client. For delivery services, the ruggedness itself may be merely a bonus than a requirement. But these additional features make many delivery businesses shift towards rugged tablets instead of regular ones.
This includes any work conducted at a variety of locations. Field professionals often have to work in unpredictable conditions, so a rugged tablet ensures that no physical damage will affect it. It provides the necessary connectivity features that allow field professionals to keep in contact with colleagues or clients. Tablets also allow workers access to vital information such as maps and instructions, and can also keep track of equipment. Furthermore, such work may require more time than initially planned for, and a powerful battery really comes in handy in such situations.
As with delivery services, one of the most useful features often found in some rugged tablets (such as the Sonim RS80) is a barcode scanner. However, warehouses are often dusty, and IP protection is also a must. Warehouse workers may have to climb to reach top shelves, drop parcels, etc. A MIL-STD certification keeps a tablet from accidental damage when dropped or hit with a heavy box.
Construction professionals require rugged tablets for the same reason as warehouse workers. In addition, construction sites are extremely dusty and may involve various liquids and chemicals. IP protection ensures that a won’t have to constantly change employee devices due to physical damage that’s practically inevitable. The same goes for shocks, jolts, drops, etc., where a MIL-STD certification is applicable. Construction professionals may also have to work in extreme temperatures or in the rain. Some rugged tablets can operate in temperatures from -4 to 135F or even more extreme. Furthermore, construction workers often wear gloves, and display that responds to textile is a great bonus.
The most useful for production industry rugged tablet features are military-grade shock and drop protection, resistance to chemical liquids and extreme temperatures, and long battery life. Built-in scanners may help to keep track of produced goods in a simpler way.
Liquid and temperature resistance is a must for agriculture workers, both with small and large farms. Tablets that feature sunlight readability and glove-friendly touchscreens would also be most suitable for outdoor working environments.
Explorers may find ultra-rugged tablets the best option. Traveling to the farthest parts of our planet often involves extreme temperatures, high humidity, dirt and dust, bumps, drops, shocks, and more. A rugged tablet can withstand all of that while also providing professionals with reliable GPS and LTE to keep contact with colleagues. Of course, long battery life is absolutely necessary for explorers.
Field archaeology involves a lot of dust, sand, and dirt. Often, archaeologists also have to work in extremely hot or cold conditions. A readable under direct sunlight display may be highly useful, as well as a powerful battery and various sensors.
Industry use aside, semi-rugged or fully-rugged devices are a great option even for regular consumers who have kids or pets. With a rugged tablet, you won’t have to worry about your kid spilling liquids or bumping the device while watching cartoons, or your dog flipping it from a sofa.
How Much Does a Rugged Tablet Cost?
Rugged tablets may seem like an unnecessary large investment at first. A single tablet generally ranges from $1,000 up to $5,000 depending on the feature set. However, the long-term cost of a rugged tablet ends up much lower than that of a regular tablet. Consumer tablets range significantly in terms of price. Simple tablets can go for a few hundred dollars while Pro models prices may be similar to that of rugged devices. But regardless of the initial price, a regular tablet may require costly repair or replacement if used in rough conditions. There are several factors you should consider:
- Lost productivity due to a regular tablet failure. This may include just about anything – dead battery, unstable LTE or GPS, or issues handling professional applications. An enterprise-grade device, designed with reliability in mind, won’t let you down during the work day.
- IT support – battery management, security measures, professional application installation, etc. Rugged devices often come with pre-installed apps designed for work and improved security features to keep your company data private. Naturally, the battery is a major advantage of rugged devices, as it’s often several times more powerful than regular devices, and is replaceable.
- Repair or replacement due to physical damage. Though waterproof devices aren’t uncommon, not a lot of consumer-level tablets can withstand continuous dust and liquid ingress. Physical pressure or drops to concrete is a definite “no” for the majority of such devices. Display replacement is especially costly. While some consumer tablets have Gorilla Glass protection, rugged options may feature more advanced versions. For example, the Sonim R80 incorporates ultra-strong Gorilla Glass 3. Another feature of rugged devices that’s not common in regular tablets is BLE. This technology allocates a lost device even with a drained battery, so your assets and data remain safe.
Choosing the Right Rugged Tablet
Rugged tablets are a long-term investment that saves your business’ assets, helps to avoid unpredictable expenses, and improves overall efficiency. Such a tablet is a reliable companion for any professional and won’t let your employees down due to drained battery or bad weather. Hopefully, our guide has answered all the questions you had about rugged tablets.
Read our top picks for rugged tablets or reach out to us directly to find the most suitable rugged tablet for your industry and request a bulk quote. Energy Electronics is a leading source of mobile logistics devices and we offer the most competitive prices for bulk orders.