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Why buy a rugged device when I can get an Apple tablet with a $100.00 military grade case

I saw this comment on LinkedIn and though I should share my response with the VARCoach group. At the start of the mobility revolution, Apple iPads was the device of choice. It is sexy, easy to use and relatively cheap!!…. Is it!!??

Restaurants, clothing stores, boutiques, coffee shops, sales teams, service technicians and the list goes on, succumbed to the lure of low cost mobile devices and of course Apple was a good choice especially when you can buy a warranty and get it replaced up to 2 times in 2 years. Why buy a unit that is 3 times the cost because it is “a rugged device” when I can buy an Apple tablet with a tough case and a warranty?

Well here is a compelling argument for why you do not want to do that!

Tough enclosures do not make a device rugged. In a busy environment, things get dropped and bounced around. It is easy to understand that when a device falls and crashes to the ground, the case is part of a “toughness” solution and yes your device will not get scratched or the screen will likely survive the fall.

Have you considered the vibrations that are introduced to the equipment inside? You do not need to look past the issues faced in NFL/CFL, North America’s favorite game, to understand this concept. Players use the best helmets and pads on the market today. These professional leagues spare no expense to protect the massive investments made in the players. Yet no matter how hard they try, concussions are a major issue. So re-visualize your nice little Apple iPad bouncing around (your brain) in your Military grade case (helmet and pads) and tell me what you see.

This is the difference between a ruggedized device and a tough device. Rugged is tough, tough is not necessarily rugged. Rugged devices are designed to take a fall; they are designed to protect the screen and the electronics inside the device. Cases are designed to protect the housing and the screen of the device. It is possible to get a tough case that is designed to protect the entire piece of equipment but I think you will realize after a glance at the price that you may as well just get a rugged device.

When making a decision, count the device cost, the warranty cost and the cost to going to the store to get the unit replaced and then reconfigured to get it back into service. Is buying an Apple tablet with a tough case really a cheaper decision?

No IT purchase is ever “cheap and durable”, we accept the cliché “you get what you pay for”. As a business owner you have a more acute appreciation for the value of your money and for the value of purchases, in the long term, that helps with your competitive edge – so which is better for you, rugged or tough?

You must take a good look at your business environment. Keep in mind that your employees do not share the same care you would for your investment. There is no rule that governs what is ideal for your environment, it is important to be very subjective. If you see your busy times are so hectic that your staff are more focused on service rather than being concerned for the careful handling of the devices, choose tough devices. If your staff are working in an environment, again at your busiest times, where they have the ability to spend time and should be able to work comfortably with your devices, then maybe consumer devices are a possible fit for you. Getting this wrong could lead to higher expenses than you anticipated.

Another option would be to look into, BYOD, bring your own device, but it means having software that meets this requirement.

Remember, ask “Why not?” and not just “Why?”.

Wayne Dinzey

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