Rugged Tablets vs Consumer Tablets – What’s the Difference?

You requested, and received, an iPad or the latest Microsoft Surface tablet at work. It’s a great tool – combining the benefits of a powerful smartphone and highly portable laptop. The touchscreen simplifies some aspects of your work, and the ability to carry the tablet around the office with you frees you from your desk without destroying your productivity. The screen is designed to be shatter-resistant, or so it says, but you were still concerned about dropping it, so you bought a durable case for it. That case doesn’t work well, or at all, with the dockable keyboard the tablet came with, so if you want to use your tablet at a desk, you have to remove it from the case, or use a USB keyboard.  That’s okay – those are minor inconveniences for a great tool for the office. And if you’re a graphic designer, a journalist, or an executive, the extremely high resolution displays, pro-quality cameras, and other high-end features probably come in handy.

Broken Consumer Tablet Screen
Modern consumer tablets are tough, but a drop on the sidewalk still destroys most.

But what if your job is a bit more down and dirty? Bouncing from department to department – or even jobsite to jobsite? What if your company needs to equip employees in the warehouse with an adaptable tablet tool to modernize logistics? Can that commercial tablet withstand repeated drops? It says it’s water resistant, but it also says not to get it wet. Will it function properly on a humid, 110-degree factory floor, or in freezing conditions? Will it be easy to handle and use while wearing gloves and safety equipment? Do you really need that ultra-high-resolution display?

Enter Rugged Tablets. Wikipedia describes a rugged, or ruggedized, computer as a computer specifically designed to operate reliably in harsh usage environments, such as in a strong vibratory environment, in extreme temperatures, and wet or dusty conditions. Rugged tablets like Estone Technology’s UR-100 10” Ultra Rugged Windows Tablet have the features most needed where harsh use is expected, in a platform that is easy to handle in those environments. Rugged tablets feature durable metal and rubberized enclosures that stand up to drops of over 1 meter without any additoinal protection. They’re thick enough to be handled easily while wearing gloves or safety gear, while still remaining thin and light enough to transport easily. Most rugged tablets feature an IP water-resistant or waterproof rating – the MR-100 features an IP65 waterproof rating which means it has been tested to suffer no damaging effects even from repeated pressurized stream sprays.

Consumer Tablet Glare
Most consumer-grade tablets are designed for use in common consumer environments. They might not deal well with direct-sun glare, intense cold, or other environmental factors.

Consumer Tablets and Rugged Tablets simply weren’t designed to fulfill the same functions – just as an individual wouldn’t find much use for a professional auto-shop’s worth of tools in his home garage, the auto-shop wouldn’t find much use for the hand tools of a hobby mechanic. Rugged tablets make poor personal products, as they often feature slightly older generation chipsets and technology that are proven resiliant with a long product lifecycle, and extra features that add bulk and are inessential, even undesirable in a consumer product. Likewise, consumer tablets make poor commercial/industrial tools because they are designed for convenience, consumer attractiveness, and a quick-turnover market. They can rarely be customized with job-essential tools, fail easily under demanding conditions, and require regular replacement and updates.

When choosing a tablet tool for your employees or enterprise, it pays to work with a company skilled in designing and producing tablets for demanding vertical industries. Estone Technology works with experts and professionals in each vertical industry we design for, from healthcare IT to logistics. Our rugged tablets feature the tools and technology you need, and the lifecycle and durability you expect.