In a world where technology is everywhere and expected to fulfill many duties, it often ends up crossing over several disciplines. Tablet computers are even more subject to this, since they can be easily picked up and carried from task to task – a single tablet can find use in the office, on the sales floor, in the factory, and in the field. But, of course, that same tablet might not be best suited to the same activities. What is a commercial tablet, an industrial tablet, and what are the difference between them?
Commercial Tablet and Consumer Tablet are not Quite the Same
A Consumer Grade Tablet is something you’re almost certainly familiar with. The family’s iPad or Fire tablet falls into this category. They’re usually thin, light, and optimized for browsing the web or using common apps like Facebook and Amazon.
Commercial Grade Tablets are similar, but often a little higher horsepower and feature rich, to be useful in more situations. A Commercial Tablet like our MC-100 tablet is still a thin, light, easy to carry device, but more multi-faceted. Where an iPad features only a single charging and connectivity port, a commercial tablet may include one or more USB ports, audio in/out ports, and more. Some even feature serial RS-232 and RS-485 ports so that they can be plugged into specialized equipment or networks. The chassis are often a bit more rugged to stand up to travel and use by a variety of individuals, including some reinforced or metal components.
Inside, they often sport more powerful processors and additional memory, to help ensure that demanding commercial applications keep churning. Some consumer tablets need only operate a web browser, essentially.
A Rugged Industrial Tablet is different yet again
Rugged Tablets meant for Industry are a fairly different animal. These tablets are substantially less thin and light than their consumer or commercial counterparts, designed with strong metallic and plastic frames that stand up to abuse. They frequently sport a large number of inputs, including several USB and serial inputs, flash memory card slots, and even interchangeable cellular card slots. The devices are often sealed to be waterproof and resist dust and dirt damage.
Rugged industrial tablets also often feature much larger, more durable batteries that can support their more demanding hardware for a longer period of time. Whereas at home it is an inconvenience if a tablet cannot be used due to a dead battery, on a factory floor or in the field it would be a much bigger problem. If you’re running demanding industrial control apps for hours on powerful hardware, you need to be able to trust that your device will keep working as long as you do.
Bridging the Gap Between Tablet Uses
Because tablets are designed to travel with you, it’s important to choose a tablet that will suit the needs of everywhere it might be taken and used. Light, thin, easily portable consumer tablets have many advantages for some uses, but they fall woefully inadequate for others. Meanwhile, rugged industrial tablets are amazing pieces of hardened technology, but they might not be the right choice for use in a library or research setting, where use is expected to be light and ergonomics are critical.