This is our last post in our series “understanding the Rugged PDA” and today I’m hoping to unravel a little bit of the Wireless LAN choices you have when buying a Rugged PDA .
Wireless Lan, WLan, WiFi, whatever you call it is basically talking about Wireless, local area network. It’s the way we all connect our laptops and phones wirelessly in the house, through our BT or Virgin wi-fi routers and rugged PDA’s also have this technology in them but with a twist! Where smartphones and Laptops tend to have quite basic chips in them because it doesn’t matter (too much) if they become disconnected for short time, Rugged PDA’s dropping WiFi connections are going to be a business nightmare. WiFi technology is focussed on “Within-4-walls” applications and devices that are used inside or under a local area network tend to not have Phone or GPRS chips in them which allows them to be optimised for WiFi communication.
What is the difference between B, G, A, and N?
In a nutshell, there are 2 frequencies that WiFi runs on, the standard 2.4GHz and 5GHz. B, G and N are based on the standard 2.4GHz stad. This is what 90% of us use and it’s fine, stable technology as a rule. B gives about 12MBPS, G 54MBPS and N is a far more open and upgradable solution however router manufacturers also have technology that is both open or proprietary that can double these speeds through various duplexing processes. A runs on 5GHz, this is less crowded so is more stable, g’tees better speeds and has far less issues due to being less crowded.
So what else do I need to look out for?
Basically Cisco approved (CCX) or Summit chips are a step above the standard chips. They are “rugged” in the sense that they will monitor, connect and maintain connection, far more aggressively than a standard WiFi chip. They have great handover technology so when walking around a network of wi-fi routers they work far better and give far less issues. They are the business end of the market in this sense and if your solution relies on WiFi communication, you really need to be looking at this. CCX approved chips are also approved to work with the most mission critical routers and they give a certification that they will work. They are also a good idea if you plan on using any type of Push to Talk or VOIP solution. You’ll have a torrid time otherwise. Along with robustness of speed and range, security is the final aspect you should consider. Cheaper chips have weaker mechanisms and some even struggle to connect to the more secure networks and this is a key area better chips, with their own bundled applications win out. Some PDA’s have better range than others, some have better applications than others to help keep connected. We always say try before you commit. Some PDA’s like the Dotel H300 have the option of chips and these can be swapped out later too! Usually for a field based Rugged PDA, Standard WiFi is the order of the day but if you want to utilise WiFi in your business solution then talk to us about it first as it does narrow down the PDA’s and in our opinion it is an area where the cheaper budget devices save on.The Rugged and Mobile blog.