The rugged vs consumer debate has been an on-going technology discussion in the channel with a number of businesses choosing consumer devices over their superior rugged counterparts on the belief that they are more cost effective.
The issue we see is that while investing in rugged technology is a long-term investment for the true value to be fully realised, businesses are taking a short-term view on spending based on their immediate budgets. When the cost of rugged devices are compared to their consumer grade counterparts, businesses see the consumer device as a radical cost saving.
What isn’t considered is that three years on the consumer devices will have cost far more than forecast due to failure rates and breakages in comparison to rugged devices that have been specifically designed to handle critical working environments.
“A consumer-market tablet cost of £550 including a ‘rugged’ case would typically return an annual field failure level of 25%, and possibly more, when used in demanding working environments. A purpose-built rugged tablet will cost £1,500 with a three-year warranty and support package, and have an expected field failure rate sub-3% over that three years. That’s three times or so the initial cost, but a significant improvement on operational life expectancy, and minimum down-time in the field.” – Peter Molyneux, UK President, Getac
Failure rates of consumer grade devices can be as high as 30% a year, yet businesses still perceive them to be the most cost effective. What businesses don’t recognise is the cost of disruption and inefficiency that impacts the workforce due to downtime.
Rugged mobile devices are designed from the ground up to withstand harsh environments and have many integrated components such as barcode scanners, digital cameras, GPS, WAN, LAN radios, and Bluetooth. They are also designed to be fully functional in extreme weather conditions such as heavy rain and cold working environments where users wear gloves, or bright sunlight. This functionality is often overlooked when businesses are seeking to deploy new devices.
This video of the Panasonic Toughpad FZ-E1 and FZ-X1 is a brilliant example of how rugged devices are built specifically for mission-critical mobile workers, and highlights where consumer grade devices fall short.