So we continue “niche” week by looking at Small Rugged Handhelds which are a growing breed in our opinion here as we see a demand for small but tough Rugged Handhelds steadily climb.

Size indeed does matter in the Rugged PDA market, more so as new and different types of customer demand more and more innovative mobile solutions and we’re definitely seeing size becoming an eroding factor into the general Rugged Handheld market.

The main reasons for wanting a small Rugged Handheld are simply that users don’t need a large screen but they are looking for something that can be realistically marketed in to their users as an “Almost” smartphone sized alternative to their current and probably beloved shiny smartphone.

What is a small Rugged Handheld?

There’s a few big differences between a small Rugged PDA and a semi-rugged PDA.  Firstly small Rugged Handhelds have a proper built in barcode scanner, or at least have the option of one.  GaneData’s GX8010 and GSmart devices come with full 2D scanners that can be optioned out or replaced with RFID scanners.  Secondly the device has to be fully rugged with drop specs and IP ratings and Intermecs CS40 demonstrates perfectly how a small rugged handheld can still be one tough little critter.  The PDA needs to be Field capable, aimed at field users, with decent GSM and GPRS/3G capability with Opticon’s H21 showing just how feature packed a small rugged PDA can be.  Lastly we’re also looking for a device that has decent battery power and is capable of powering itself for a full day, where perhaps a semi-rugged device might struggle a little bit.

The compromise tends to come from the screen size alone where everything talked about here has a 2.8″ screen although the Skeye Dart is the exception to the rule managing to be quite small with a 3.5″ just getting into this class if you opt for the PDA format keyboard.  However we do like to see a numeric keyboard option if possible which is perfect for phone usage and barcode mis-reads and with a small screen they are often essential.


Well there are a lot of people out there who are sold on the Rugged Handheld concept but simply want something that their users will find lighter and easier to live with.  They also tend to want to use the devices as full phone and PDA replacements so a smaller form factor is often needed to save the users the embarrassment of using a brick to make calls with!!


In the rugged market, small tends to bring a price advantage with it.  The CS40 tends to hanker around the £700 mark, the GX8010 and GSmart around the £500-£650 mark and the Dart also about the £700 mark, the Opticon is the exception, in fact they always are, still being around the £800-900 mark.

So if you have specific need for a smaller rugged Handheld then there are options out there.  Come talk to us here if you need any more help at all.

The Rugged and Mobile blog.

About The Author

Dave's one of the founders of Raptor, his rants are memorable, his thoughts are stimulating and his heart is set on helping, entertaining and making things like mobile, Android, ruggedness, 3D printing and IOT simple.

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