Best Tablets For Contractors Of Every BudgetBy Mahrukh Karimi on Wednesday, February 14, 2018
Your go-to guide for waterproof, tough, rugged tablets.
When working in a field service business, you use your tablet a lot. Filling out forms, looking at customer or job information, and even collecting payments can now be completed digitally instead of with a paper and pen using field service software.
Tablets are in more demand than ever in the field service industry and understandably so. When looking to purchase a tablet for yourself or for your field technicians, it is important to understand what your needs are.
When you work out in the field, you may need a more durable tablet. When considering models, look for something waterproof, dustproof, and shockproof. These features can be found in a device’s listed IP rating. IP ratings, or Ingress Protection, can be good indicators of a tablet’s environmental endurance. These features are often necessary when you work in a hands-on work environment.
Here are four excellent rugged tablets that can be used to mobilize your field service operations:
Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 2 $420.82
- Longest battery life
- Pen slot
The Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 2 holds a unique spot as a ruggedized mid-level tablet. It is built for the outdoors with an IP rating of 68 (protection against dust and protection against temporary immersion in water) and good visibility in sunlight. Its rubber shell features a slot for its stylus pen.
At 7”, this small, but durable tablet fits perfectly in the hand. Right now it does not have cellular capabilities, but it is a new product so this could change in the future.
- Most accessories
- Best camera
- Different size and storage options
- Requires case
If you are looking for a versatile tablet, the iPad is for you. Running on Apple’s iOS, the iPad is sleek, easy-to-use, and can easily shift from work to play. All iPad models can be purchased with cellular capabilities and come with awesome cameras.
The iPad is generally delicate compared to some of the other rugged tablets on this list. Despite this, a vast selection of rugged cases and screen protectors can help protect these devices, making them better suited to field service work. Because Apple has the largest supply of accessories, you can also find keyboards, scanners, and all the other add-on pieces you can imagine.
The iPad provides a good deal of size and storage options, meaning your company can easily find one suited for your needs. The size of the screen ranges from 7.9” to 12.9” and the devices can hold a (nearly) unlimited supply of equipment pictures and notes, with internal storage options ranging from 32 GB to 512 GB. Because of this, the price ranges from $399-$799 without cellular connection and $529-$929 with cellular capabilities.
Getac Z710 $1,499-$1,799+
- Sunlight viewable
- ATEX certified
This rugged android tablet offers everything you need for field work. It has 3.5G cellular capabilities, excellent vehicle mounting accessories, and cool features like a built in barcode scanner (though you can use your camera as a barcode scanner on other tablets).
At 7” this is a small rugged tablet. It is large enough to fill out digital forms, but may be a bit on the smaller end for some of your other field service needs.
This is a rugged tablet though, and it has the qualifications to prove it. With tempered glass, LumiBond sealing, and an IP of 65 (protection against dust and protection against strong water jets), this tough tablet can handle extreme temperatures, a 6 foot drop, water, and dust without breaking on you. It also offers a sunlight readable display that you can use with your gloves on.
If the environment you work in is potentially explosive, you have no need to worry. This durable tablet is ATEX certified, meaning it will not ignite in temperamental environments. Even if you do doubt its level of ruggedness, the Getac Z710 has a 3-year warranty to boot.
Xplore Xslate D10 $1,699+
- Sunlight viewable
- Requires add-on for cellular functionality
- Companion keyboard
- Lots of ports
If you want a rugged tablet that looks tough, the Xplore Xslate D10 is for you. Even the name sounds like someone you wouldn’t want to be in a boxing ring with. 10.1” is on the larger side for tablets, but that can be nice when trying to look at documents or fill out forms. At 2.4 lbs it is the heaviest of the tablets listed here and boasts an IP of 65 (protection against dust and protection against strong water jets).
The multitude of ports available on this tough tablet is perfect for contractors, architects, and project managers who have to deal with USB drives and large files. Not that it needs extended storage though, this durable tablet boasts 64GB.
|Galaxy Tab Active 2||iPad||Getac Z710||Xplore Xslate D10|
|Price||$420.82||$399-$799, $529-$929||$1,499 – $1,799 with 3G||$1,699 +|
|Screen||8″||7.9″, 9.7″, 10.5″, 12.9″||7″||10.1″|
|Battery Life||10-12 hrs||10 hrs||10 hrs||8 hrs|
|Cellular||No||Yes||3G||Yes, with HDMI input|
|Storage||16 GB||32 GB – 512 GB||16 GB||64 GB|
|Display in Sun||Good||add on||Good||Good|
|Camera||8 MP||8-12 MP||5 MP||5 MP|
|Weight||.91 lbs||.65-1.49 lbs||1.75 lbs||2.4 lbs|
Questions to Ask Yourself
Tablets can be a large purchase. They are wise investments, and like any investment, they require planning. Asking yourself these questions can help you decide which rugged tablet is best for your business.
1. What is my budget?
Take time to figure out how much money you are able to put into this investment now and in the future.
2. What is the total cost of ownership?
Keep in mind that the cost of a tablet is never just the price listed. Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) is how much the device will cost in the long run. Repairs, accessories, and even replacements can all go into the TCO of a new tablet. So sometimes, a cheap tablet isn’t always the cheapest choice.
3. Do I need cellular capabilities?
If your field service business dispatches jobs with software like Smart Service, it is probably best for you to use a tablet with cellular capabilities. If you only fill out forms on the job and don’t need to collect payments or keep track of employees, a non-cellular rugged tablet may suffice. If direct communication is your primary goal, tablets might not be the choice for you! Perhaps a rugged cell phone would fit your needs better.
4. How volatile is your work environment?
If your work environment is actually volatile, it may be worth it to dish out $2,000+ for a very rugged tablet. If you are trying to prevent your field service tablet from sustaining damage while out on the job, you’ll probably be more than fine with a cheaper tablet and a sturdy tablet case.
5. Do you rely on pictures?
While a 5MP camera can do the basics, you’re not going to get a lot of detail on that image. Taking pictures and adding them to your notes can be a handy way to keep track of past jobs. How necessary is that in your business?
6. Is it easy to handle?
Everybody loves a huge screen, until they have to hold it all day. Test out varied rugged tablet sizes to see what feels the best in your hands.
In the end, it is up to you and your business to decide what factors are most important and which rugged tablet is right for you.