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Are you considering a tablet device for an enterprise or industrial mobile computing workflow?

If so, be careful about the type of device you choose.

Many businesses decide to save on up-front costs and purchase iOS iPads or similar consumer-grade tablets when they need a tablet-style device for mobile workflows.

But choosing a consumer-grade device can be a costly long-term mistake. It only makes sense for certain applications and environments.

To help you compare consumer-grade vs. rugged tablets and make a more informed and cost-effective decision, we’ve put together a quick overview of some of the key considerations you should keep in mind.

These are insights we’ve gathered from over 100 years of combined mobility industry expertise and customer service at Glacier Computer.

Let’s jump in and take a look at how consumer-grade and rugged tablets compare.

Advantages of Consumer-Grade Tablets

1. Cost. Consumer-grade tablets are often less expensive than rugged tablets when it comes to up-front costs. This is because they’re designed for everyday consumer use, so they’re not built with more rugged components, cases or screens.

They also don’t have many of the more advanced enterprise features of rugged tablets, such as more processors and processing power, more memory, longer battery life, more connectivity options, built-in barcode scanning engines, and enterprise-grade security.

If durability isn’t a concern and your mobility needs are fairly simple, a consumer-grade tablet might suffice. But don’t let short-term budget concerns get in the way of making the right long-term choice.

You can easily lose a lot of money by choosing an Apple iOS tablet or similar consumer-grade device, only to face staggering repair and replacement costs on a regular basis. We’ve seen some businesses choose consumer-grade tablets and then have to replace almost all of those tablets due to damage and destruction within one year of deployment.

2. Look, feel, weight, and size. Consumer-grade tablets give you the same familiar look and feel as the tablet devices you might use at home. They also tend to be lighter and more compact than rugged tablets.

Rugged enterprise-grade tablets sometimes look a bit different due to their more robust designs, and they’ often a bit heavier and larger than a consumer device.

If a smaller size and weight are important for your application, a consumer-grade device could be a viable option. But only if you don’t need rugged durability. And only if you can get by with the more basic processing power, barcode scanning, performance, and security of a consumer-grade device.

There’s a reason that rugged tablets are a bit bigger and heavier, and that’s because they’re built to last for years in even the most extreme industrial environments, and they have all the processing power, memory, scanning, and security you need to power enterprise-grade apps and workflows.

Advantages of Rugged Tablets

1. Durability and TCO. Rugged tablets cost more up-front, but you get what you pay for. They can save you thousands of dollars in total cost of ownership due to their vastly better durability.

For example, one of the options we recommend is the Zebra L10 Series tablets because they are built with amazing ruggedness, including:

  • Corning® Gorilla® Glass damage-resistant screens
  • Harder-than-steel magnesium frames
  • Resistance to repeated concrete drops and tumbles
  • Resistance to extreme temps and harsh outdoor conditions
  • IP65 dustproof and waterproof sealing
  • Resistance to full-force hose-downs and liquid spillsMIL-STD-810 military-grade durability testing

In the end, rugged tablets might cost more to get all of this durability, but it can save you thousands and even tens of thousands of dollars on servicing, repairs, and replacements.

Consumer-grade tablets don’t have this combination of cost-saving durability, so there’s no comparison in total cost of ownership.

2. Performance. Rugged enterprise-grade tablets usually provide far more processing power, memory, and battery life than consumer-grade tablets.

This is because they need to meet all-day business demands for the end customer. Many of our rugged tablet options are designed with up to 8-core Intel vPro processors to run multiple resource-intensive business apps simultaneously.

Zebra’s L10 Series tablets also provide up to 24-hours or more of continuous power with hot-swappable extended-power batteries.

Then there are the advantages of more connectivity with faster and longer-range Wi-Fi, 4G wireless models, Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity, USB-C and USB 3.0 ports, and much more.

3. Data capture. Enterprise-grade tablets are much better for data capture, especially if you need to capture a high volume of barcodes accurately and reliably.

For example, rugged tablets are available with advanced scanning engines that can capture not only 1D and 2D barcodes but also capture signatures, documents, or form fields. They can also capture barcodes in virtually any condition, even if they’re dirty, damaged, or poorly printed.

This means you can automate more of your business processes by capturing, converting, and getting data into your business apps more efficiently. And there’s simply no comparison of these capabilities to the basic barcoding ability of on-board cameras on consumer-grade tablets.

Getting More Advice on Enterprise Tablets

While we have covered the core differences between consumer-grade and rugged tablets here, our team at Glacier Computer is also here to help you with recommendations for ancillary products like mounts, printers, scanners, and handhelds.

Contact us now to request a free tablet assessment and recommendation for your application and your business needs. We’re here to help you make the best possible choice and get the best value and return on your investment, so call 866-724-6257 or visit our Contact page to email us now to get started.