Part 5 of our blog series on mission critical rugged pda’s, to see the index go here for the 5 tests that a rugged PDA should pass. Today we’re talking about Rugged PDA Data Capture Capabilities.
I personally think this test needs reviewing as we’re seeing a definite increase in demand for rugged PDA’s that are running very simple, none data capture applications. However a rugged PDA does still need to have some core data capture technology as an option at the least.
Bar code Scanner
Bar code scanners are probably the key difference between a smart phone and rugged pda. A camera will not scan bar codes efficiently and it will mis-read them too. If you’re scanning bar codes, do yourself a favour and get a rugged pda with a proper bar code scanner in it.
Another big difference in most rugged PDA’s is that they usually have the option of a better WiFi chip. Cisco CCX approved chips will help you connect, stay connected and allow better browsing through large networks, handing off far better. They are also optimised for VOIP, PTT and many industrial applications that require a string, constant connection.
RFID is becoming more and more popular and the readers have become a low-cost option now. NFC is cheap and for card payments, but if you want to use RFID for anything else then you need a decent HF, LF or even UHF rugged device. Remember that RFID needs a big battery to run it all day too.
GPRS and 3G
Most Rugged PDA’s still have the option of using GPRS or 3G and each still have their benefits. Remember that without a GPRS or 3G chip you can;t send data back to HQ whilst in the field and you can’t also take phone calls.
Capacitive screens which are pretty much 100% of the smart phone market do not allow you take signature without expensive capacitive pens that are still very hit and miss. Resistive touch screens are still the way to go in the rugged market. They work for POD better, work whilst wearing gloves and they are far cheaper to replace when broken.
GPS is int everything these days, it’s here for completeness more than anything else. Be aware though that to do anything in the tracking realm you will need a good GPS chip.
The Rugged and Mobile blog.