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Using Consumer vs. Rugged Tablets in Your Warehouse

Recent advances in technology have allowed businesses to instantaneously receive, interpret, and distribute information. The desire to be more productive and competitive has resulted in the widespread use of mobile devices, specifically tablets, in the workplace.

As with any other form of technology, there are a wide variety of tablets to choose from. Businesses looking to incorporate enterprise mobility into their business strategy need to carefully consider their mobility needs before choosing a tablet.

A company should start by determining whether to go with a consumer or rugged tablet. Although they largely function in the same way, both types have their advantages.

Here are a few things to consider when shopping for tablets:


There is a noticeable difference between consumer and rugged tablets in terms of price. Consumer tablets tend to be inexpensive; depending on the brand, they can range from $200 to $600 or more. A good rugged tablet will usually cost upwards of $1500.

Rugged tablets cost more for a reason: they are specifically designed to withstand wear and tear, even in extreme conditions. This isn’t to say consumer tablets are poorly made; they just aren’t built for high-risk environments.

Although the initial price of consumer tablets looks attractive, it is important to consider the total cost of ownership (TCO), or the estimated price of an item over the course of its life. Buying consumer tablets can save money initially, but they typically require more repairs than rugged tablets. Repairs cost extra money that’s not built into the initial price tag. Plus, the downtime that comes with a broken device will also hurt business by slowing down operations and decreasing output.


Rugged tablets, as the name implies, are extremely tough and durable products. Even though they are much more expensive than consumer tablets, they are built for tough environments. Therefore, they require less maintenance during their lifespan.

Consumer devices have a lower cost up-front, but when you consider the amount of money you’ll spend on repairs, they end up costing more over time. Tablet cases are available to increase durability — but even though they can offer some protection, no case, no matter how durable, will turn a consumer tablet into a rugged tablet.

Here are a few things you can get from a rugged tablet that a consumer tablet simply can’t offer:

  • Drop/shock protection: Rugged tablets are built to withstand the impact of a jarring fall. Because of their industrial purpose, warehouses aren’t ideal places for most types of technology. However, a fall to concrete won’t hurt a rugged tablet. Consumer tablets, with the help of a case, might appear to withstand a fall, but the shock of just one fall could ruin the tablet internally.
  • Water/dust-proof: This is an important one. Even in office settings, spills frequently happen around electronics. A tablet that can resist bad weather or a dirty/dusty workplace is invaluable in industrial environments like warehouses and distribution centers.
  • Operate in extreme temperatures: Unlike temperatures in office environments, temperatures in warehouses fluctuate more and are harder to control. Tablets that shut down due to extreme heat or cold result in downtime, lower output, and ultimately, lost revenue.
  • Longevity: In addition to failing less often than consumer tablets, rugged tablets also have longer life spans. This means that they won’t need to be replaced as often, reducing their TCO.

DesignRugged Tablets in Warehouse

Design is a much more subjective category than price and durability, but it is just as important. Usability is essential, and should be one of the most important considerations.

Businesses should choose a tablet with software that allows workers to do their job quickly and easily.

Companies that requires workers to wear gloves should choose a tablet with resistive touchscreen panels (a type of screen that works even when gloves are being worn).

Similarly, businesses that frequently deal with signatures might want a digitizer touchscreen, which uses a special pen that allows for easy writing.

These are just a few examples of the importance of usability in choosing a rugged tablet.

The average warehouse is going to require a more durable tablet, but every business has different needs. Tablets are designed for many types of uses, and that is why one kind of tablet will never be inherently better than another. Cost, durability, and design are just a few factors to consider when shopping for tablets. A business that understands what it needs in a tablet can save a lot of money and increase productivity.


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