Differences between rugged and consumer tablet

We are often asked the question: what are the differences between a rugged tablet and a consumer tablet? They are numerous, especially concerning the quality of the screen, the chassis, the solidity, the connections, the waterproofness, the safety standards, the processor used, the operating system, and the durability of a tablet. Hardened compared to a consumer tablet.

Why these differences? They are mainly based on two factors: the use and the environment for which the tablet is intended.

A consumer tablet aims to meet domestic use (multimedia, games, internet, photos, etc.) when a rugged tablet must respond to professional mobile use (business applications, production monitoring, data collection, technical drawing.

Regarding the environment, an industrial tablet is mainly used for professional use in “difficult  ” environments which are rarely suitable for electronics: factory, site, surrounded by chemicals, fridge, etc. which are often dusty, very cold, or very hot, which can cause splashes of various liquids.

A different chassis

One of the most notable differences between an industrial tablet and a consumer tablet is without a doubt the chassis. Indeed, the case that surrounds a consumer tablet is often made of materials whose main objective is to meet a need for lightness and make the design of the device pleasant.

When it comes to a hardened tablet, the primary objective of the chassis is strength. The issues are therefore not at all the same. A rugged tablet must be equipped with a case that will withstand intensive use over time. It will also withstand harsh environments associated with use in an industrial field for example.

Professional tablets meet daily use and need in the working world. Whether on a construction site, in a factory, in an industry, or on the road, the main objective of these tablets is to always be there. This is why the strength of these is taken into account from the design stage. Conversely for home use, the main features are design, screen, cameras, and battery.

Many standards govern the strength characteristics of computer hardware.

It is, for example, not uncommon to find professional supports that withstand drops of 1 meter, 1 meter 20, or even almost 2 meters for the most solid. Also, they very often have the characteristics of withstanding strong vibrations, being usable in very low or very high temperatures, or even withstand splashing liquids.

MIL-STD-810 standard

Some rugged tablets meet one or more versions of MIL-STD-810. American military origin, allows us to note the robustness of the computer equipment. It represents a series of tests that tablets must be able to pass (for example) to resist different types of damage such as:

  • High temperature (Method 501)
  • Low temperature (Method 502)
  • Thermal shock (Method 503)
  • Moisture (Method 504)
  • Salt spray resistance (Method 509)
  • Vibration resistance (Method 514)
  • Impact resistance (Method 516)
  • Cannon fire (Method 519)

A bright screen

If there is one characteristic very close between professional tablets and those of the general public, it is the screen. While still today it is the most fragile element of this type of material, the general public and the industrial world have both inherited technological advances from both worlds.

It is not uncommon when we analyze the technical characteristics to discover that the screens use Gorilla glass technology (whatever its version) for strength and that the majority of screens are chemically treated against scratches.

However, one feature is not left out on the rugged tablet side, it is the brightness of the screen. Some of the tablets have a display designed to be fully adapted to very high ambient light (in direct sunlight for example) or very low light. Also, screens are often treated with an anti-reflective coating.

Once again we are looking here for performance and use in all circumstances.

Tablet
Tablet

Professional connectivity accompanies a rugged tablet

While the majority of touch tablets are equipped at best with a mini/micro USB or USB-C port, a sound input/output combo, and a mini HDMI port, pro tablets are provided much more.

It is not uncommon to find tablets that offer the same connection with the addition of one or more USB ports and a memory extension. But also we can find according to the models:

  • a serial port
  • an RJ45 port
  • a mini PCIe slot to accommodate GPS, 4G, RFID extensions, etc.
  • an RFID reader
  • an NFC reader
  • a barcode reader

Sealing Tablet

Another essential difference between these two types of tablets is waterproofness. In general, when we talk about waterproofing we mainly talk about liquids. However, in the professional field dust is also taken into account.

This feature has a certifying standard called Ingress Protection (IP).

While it is rather rare to find waterproof tablets for domestic use, in the professional field it is quite the opposite. Most of the tablets are also certified IP65 (resistance to dust and water jets), IP68 (resistance to dust and immersion for a maximum of 30 minutes at less than one meter deep), and IP69 (resistance to dust and very high-pressure cleaning).

You can find our protection index presentation table on this page.

The IP69 tablets are particularly suitable for use in the food industry and the pharmaceutical field. We offer a whole range of this type of tablet.

The processor Tablet

Another fundamental difference exists between these two categories of tablets: the processor. The majority of Android tablets are equipper with an ARM, Snapdragon, or Terga processor. For Apple, the tablets are equipper with in-house AX processors. Rugged tablets are mostly equipper with Intel Atom or Intel I Core processors.

Not to mention performance, rugged tablet processors are gear towards professional use, while those for Android and iOS are much more geared towards graphics performance.

But then, why use such processors in rugged tablets? This choice is mainly due to the next difference we present in the operating system.

The operating system Tablet

As seen just before, a difference exists in terms of processors used within these supports. And this difference is once again link to a particular point: the use.

Within business environments, the Windows operating system is still widely use.

While we can notice for several years that the iOS (Apple) and Android (Google) OS have mainly flooded the market.

Why does Windows continue to impose itself in the professional field? This is for two main reasons:

  • Communication drivers which are mainly develop for Windows. Even if we notice an increase in manufacturers who provide drivers for Linux.
  • Publishers of business application solutions who develop for Windows.

Update March 2019

The trend for the use of tablets in the professional domain only with Windows seems to be changing. Now it is not uncommon to find versions with Google’s operating system: Android. Whether on Android KitKat, Lollipop, or Oreo, many tablet manufacturers have started to produce versions on this system.

For the moment, manufacturers are focusing on hardened 7 ″ and 8 ″ tablets. The main reason is that Android is much more suitable for the user experience in these formats than Windows even in its latest version (Windows 10).

Update May 2019

The Android operating system is more and more in demand in the business field for an important reason: Today if you want to use an RFID or NFC reader, the functionality is present as standard in the Android operating system. and therefore in the associated applications. This is not the case for tablets with Windows 10 IoT Enterprise or Windows 10 Pro for which you need to develop an application.

Update May 31, 2019

Until now the most recent version of Android that equipper rugger tablets was version 6.0 also called Android Marshmallow. Now manufacturers will provide versions with Android 8.0 pre-installed.

The price

A touchscreen tablet for home use is often found in a price range between € 300 and € 1,000. To achieve this type of price, the components of this type of tablet are therefore suitable.

A hardened tablet as for it will find a placement of price between 700 € and 3000 €. This is explain by all of the points that we have seen above. Also, they are often equipper and/or compatible with Windows, Linux, and Android operating systems can have up to an Intel Core i7 processor, are guarantee for 2 years or more, and are available for sale over several years.

Of course, the price is higher depending on the options and needs. However, the durability, usability, and strength of these do not suffer from any comparison.

Which tablet to choose?

 

I Pad (Apple)

It is the best-selling tablet. The very latest version (iPad 2) has more power, memory, and several extras, like these two cameras (one in front, the other in the back) which facilitate video conferencing. There are many accessories available on the market that specially design for the iPad. This tablet comes either with wireless and 3G internet connections or only with a wireless connection.

Android Tablet (Motorola, Samsung, Sony, Amazon, Dell, LG, HTC)

Tablets running Android (operating system) are available in several models, which offer different characteristics. This is because companies that use the Android system are making an effort to distinguish themselves from their competitors… and from other tablets using Android. The vast majority of these tablets use Android 2.1 or 2.2. Their sizes vary between seven and ten inches. The best known is undoubtedly the Samsung Galaxy (seven inches). There is also a new generation of tablets using the Android 3.0 system, but there are still very few of them. Like Apple, Android offers a multitude of applications.

tablet
Tablet

BlackBerry Playbook Tablet (RIM)

This is the little news and it represents quite a change. RIM bought an operating system from QNX specifically for its tablet. This allowed the Canadian company to create a system different from the others, fast and unique.

RIM, however, has not yet has the time to properly design solid apps for its Playbook, even though new apps are create every day. But RIM’s next phone series will use the same operating system as the Playbook, and within a few months, the Playbook will have new and more interesting features.

Bridge software, although not quite developed yet, allows BlackBerry owners to have a much larger screen with the Playbook to read their emails, documents or browse the web. . It also allows you to go on the Internet using the BlackBerry data plan at no additional cost.

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