Warehouse environments are particularly tough environments for any asset. There is a tangible advantage for rugged tablets in demanding field or warehouse environments.
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In a report from Mobile Device TCO Models for Line of Business Solutions, VDC Research estimates that the failure rate for consumer tablets in the workplace is 18% per year. That translates into roughly one in five systems failing at work each year.
"Unless you want to treat tablets as disposable, this failure rate should be unacceptable for businesses today," observes David Krebs, executive vice president at VDC Research. "By contrast, rugged tablets have been built for business use and have a 4% failure rate."
So what makes rugged tablets more suitable for work environments? Depending on the model, rugged tablets offer reinforced frames, watertight seals, industrial grade glass, and major components that are shock-mounted. The durability of these durable tablets is measured with an IP rating - a two digit number describing it's dirt and moisture resistance. If ordinary consumer tablets can be compared to sports cars, the rugged tablet equivalent would be a tank.
However, rugged tablets do come at a premium price. Some organizations try to get around this by making their consumer tablets closer to being indestructible by encasing it in a protective cover that can absorb the shock of a fall and keep out dust and dirt. However, the combined tablet and casing are often bigger and heavier than a fully rugged tablet. For example, HP sells a version of its ElitePad 1000 tablet that is protected by a rugged plastic case; the tablet ends up weighing over 3 pounds and is 1.3-in. thick.
Rugged protection isn't cheap since most rugged systems can cost two to three times as much as their consumer counterparts. "But getting a tablet meant for consumers is a false economy at work because it will likely cost more in the long run to use," says VDC's Krebs. "At work, a rugged tablet can quickly pay for its extra upfront cost."