Consumer Grade or Purpose-Built? Which Mobile Device Would You Choose?

Mobile technology is ever-expanding as organizations work to become more TC56 Zebrapowerful than their competitors. The ability to produce more, respond faster and increase customer loyalty are all reasons why mobile devices have become popular with users.

Popularity of Consumer Devices Fast adoption of this technology, combined with the familiarity of consumer devices, has led many organizations to purchase consumer devices for their mobile workforce.  On the surface, this seems like a wise choice:

  • Users are more familiar with how these devices work, since they probably have a smartphone or tablet of their own for personal use,
  • They are designed with a small form factor, making them easy to carry around,
  • The unit cost on a consumer-grade device is relatively inexpensive

Consumer-grade tablets and smartphones, in general, are not designed for a tough, fast-paced environment. Mobile workers put consumer devices to the test with drops, bumps, tosses, extreme heat, extreme cold, multiple users, and so on.  By design, consumer devices are simply better suited to slow-moving, single-user applications.

While they may seem less expensive to purchase, a commercial device can end up costing users up to 51% more than a purpose-built device[1].  In one year, consumer grade devices are 4 times more likely to fail[2], even when used with protective cases.  Add dirty or wet conditions and vehicle vibrations to the mix, and the terrain gets more challenging for a consumer tablet or smartphone.

Purpose-Built Devices for Healthcare Applications Rugged mobile solutions are not just designed for rough-and-tumble warehouses and manufacturing plants.  They are ideal for service, delivery and a variety of healthcare-related applications.  An industrial-grade mobile computing device is ideal for healthcare because it possesses similar qualities to that of a factory or distribution center:

  1. Fast-paced environment
  2. Use of disinfectants or other harsh chemicals
  3. Need for multiple communication devices
  4. Long work shifts

A purpose-built device offers an industrial-type design, but in a sleek package. Many of these devices, like the Zebra TC56 Touch Computer, looks like a consumer-style smartphone, but:

  • Offers superior scanning performance of 1D & 2D barcodes – even damaged, dirty or poorly printed codes
  • Incorporates Corning Gorilla Glass touch panel and imager window
  • Reads easily in the outdoors (even bright sunlight)
  • Has a user-replaceable, extended-shift battery (up to 14 hours!)

The other advantage of using a robust mobile device is that you can perform a number of functions all in once device. Consider specimen delivery, for example. With this type of application, the driver needs GPS, a cellular network, access to customer orders and inventory, barcode scanning and a tough housing to protect it from spills and inclement weather.  A commercial smartphone user would need a couple of different devices to satisfy those requirements.

Android: A Robust Platform For mobile devices, Android is leading the pack when it comes to operating system platforms.  It simplifies migration, is familiar to users of other Android devices, and helps future-proof your equipment investment. And with Windows ending support in 2020 of versions of its software that support mobile devices, it makes sense to begin making the transition to an Android or a dual-OS device that will allow you to migrate to Android when you’re ready.

For more information on the advantages of a rugged device over a consumer-grade device, click here to check out the Purpose-Built Device video, then contact us to learn more about the Zebra TC56 Touch Computer.

[1] Source: VDC Enterprise Mobility Device TCO

[2] Source: VDC Enterprise Mobility Device TCO


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