So what’s the big deal? Android phones and tablets are disposably cheap and with Gorilla glass are already pretty tough. So why do businesses still ask for rugged devices when they’re wildly more expensive than non-rugged varieties and the hardware’s often lower specification than the phone in your pocket.
We’ve recently worked with a couple of different rugged devices from GEN2wave and WinMate. The devices were to be used in industrial deliveries and by nightclub doormen. In both these cases the client chose them because of the integrated 1D barcode scanners.
It takes a little time to accustom yourself to the manufacturer’s custom SDK to drive the scanner, but once you’ve mastered it the laser scanners are so much faster than trying to scan with the device’s camera.
Event doormen might need to scan thousands of tickets in minutes, and delivery drivers often end up trying to scan barcodes in awkward places or in poor light. In circumstances like these laser equipped rugged PDAs are definitely the way to go.
Other advantages include longer batter life (if the battery’s been beefed up) and anecdotal evidence suggests that industrial users still prefer a device that feels tough and heavy… maybe they’re just used to them from their old Windows PDA days?
Anyway in most circumstances we think non-rugged devices are more than adequate, but ruggedized PDAs definitely have a place. If you’re considering designing apps for a rugged device or laser barcode scanner, then please do get in touch to discuss our experiences.