iPad Is Not For Harsh Environments

Don’t try to use an iPad® for rugged work
by Rugged Ralph

While the iPad® is truly a technology advancement in personalized tablets, does that, in reality, make it a true business tool that can stand the rigors of the work environment? Is the iPad® rugged enough?

The answer is a resounding NO!

Of course, the Apple iPad® has a nice sized screen and it has Internet access through Wi-Fi. But that is only a fraction of the capabilities required in most work environments. I cannot tell you how many times my company has used the wrong product for a job. They thought they could save a couple of bucks but in the end only frustrated their employees and had to spend more money to fix their mistake.
iPad Rugged Mobile Tablet
From my experience, the following is vital when utilizing tablet PCs in applications for First Responders (rescue, police, fire, and ambulance workers), for mobile workers using tables in sales force automation, in field service repair, for utility workers, in manufacturing and distribution centers, in delivery trucks, and any other areas in which the tablet is being used in business environments.

Here are some observations I’ve made about what makes a rugged mobile tablet:

  • Ruggedness: Most tablet PCs are rated for at least multiple four-foot drops to concrete. Additionally, Rugged Tablet PC manufacturers have designed their products from the inside out with special components and manufacturing processes that insure that circuit cards, connections, and chips will not become dislodged from extreme vibration or from being dropped. The Apple iPad® is not made for this type of “abuse”.
  • Protection against water, snow, and dust: Ruggedized Tablet PCs are typically rated from an industry rating of IP54 to an IP67 rating. This means that they can take water spray and in some cases can be fully submerged in water. These environmental factors are found whenever a worker leaves their office. The iPad® is not designed for these types of environments.
  • A full operating system: A system that allows sophisticated business applications to be loaded in the Tablet PC. Typically, the OS found on a Rugged Tablet PCs are Windows® 7, XP Embedded, or Linux. The OS found on the Apple iPad is a proprietary operating system and not open to business applications that are Windows based.
  • Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and Cellular communications: These capabilities are often a must with business users of Tablet PCs. While the iPad® does have Wi-Fi capabilities, it definitely lacks any type of cellular communications capabilities.
  • Local support: Access to fast and responsive support by computer technicians located in the U.S. is almost guaranteed by the manufactures of Rugged Tablet PCs. They realize that when support is needed, they must be responsive as it is costing their customers money when they have an issue that takes them off-line.
  • Fast Processor speeds: Speeds that allow programs to be executed quickly and efficiently.
  • Upgrade Options: Rugged Tablet PCs today have the ability to add more memory, solid state storage and hard disk drives as well as peripheral devices such as barcode scanners, magnetic stripe readers, cameras, digital video, smart cards, etc. The Apple’s iPad® does not have any of these capabilities.
  • Long battery life: Rugged Tablet PCs offer long-life batteries with the capability to “hot-swap” batteries on the spot without any loss of data.
  • Vehicle mount: Mounting any type of tablet in a vehicle is often a challenge due to the many different types of vehicles on the road. Today, the major manufacturers of Rugged Tablet PCs have designed special mounts for most all vehicles. Additionally, these mounts allow for their Rugged Tablet PCs to be secured safely within the vehicles. In case of an accident, the worst thing that could happen is for someone to be injured because the tablet broke loose from its mounting and became a flying missile.

Take it from someone that has worked in harsh environments. You want the right product so you can get the job done. Give your employees the proper tools for the job so they can work more productively, faster and safer.

iPad is a registered trademark of Apple Inc.

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