This is part of a small series just click here to see the index for the 5 tests that a rugged PDA should pass.  Today we’re talking about Rugged PDA roadmap.

Above and beyond anything else, this is probably the 1 factor when choosing a PDA that will cost you the most if you get it wrong or if the manufacturer lets you down.  A rugged PDA roadmap means the following:

Good notice on the end of life

Especially these days, even rugged PDA’s can’t be around for ever and have to be replaced as new technology advances.  We don’t do 2 weeks notice here though, or whilst stocks last like the networks do with smartphones.  To be mission critical and therefore to be rugged a PDA has to have a good amount of notice to give everyone a decent time to adjust to the new device and let go of the old ones.

Introduction period

Likewise a decent amount of time is also required when introducing new Rugged Handhelds.  If they come on to the market abruptly and with no warning it doesn’t give people time to plan.  It also really peeves people off if they spend lots of money and their device is old after 2 weeks!  I would mention that this is for general folk here.  Showing the new thing coming out soon, secretly to only the larger customers is not enough to pass this test.

Replacement strategy

Resellers must be told the strategy of the new device.  Is it replacing anything or is it supplemental to the range.  Is it replacing something over time depending on how the sales go?  We need to know so we sell the right device.

Demo availability

Early versions of the kit need to be made available to resellers so they can demo new kit early to customers and understand the kit when it goes into general sale.  New technology often has hidden extra work involved and hidden risks that need to be tested on the resellers not the end users.

Long life

The life of a rugged PDA needs to also be longer than a few months.  We’re not into the next best thing in the rugged market and we need to know we can buy the same device for multiple years, with our without a service contract.

Parts Availability

This is a really important committment where parts must be available for years after end of life for any rugged PDA, with or without a service contract.  We’re fabricated too many parts for too many well-known brands these days just to keep them running months after they go end of life and it’s not good enough.  Parts and repairs must go on for a minimum of 3 years after any rugged PDA has been discontinued.

Upgrade compatibility

Inevitably those QVGA LCD’s will stop being manufactured but at least VGA are the same ratio.  3MP cameras will all turn into 5MP but will they still store and save the images in the same way?  It’s really important how your chosen rugged PDA handles these changes.  Some like Pidion make constant incremental changes to their devices to keep them fresh and relevant but this doesn’t go without its risks.  A new device at the least must be able to sit and function along side its predecessors with the minimal of fuss.

Roadmap History

Always ask about what has happened before because it will tell you if a device is truly regarded as rugged or not.  If the manufacturer shows a poor committment to what they are discontinuing then it could spell real agony for your business so make sure you ask the questions!

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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