This week we’re looking at different classes of Rugged PDA and we’re starting all the way at the bottom with the Best Small Rugged PDA class.

To qualify for this group, you need to be small and I mean noticeably smaller than the classic Rugged Handheld, so some just scrape in, some offer almost smartphone size.  You also have to be fully rugged, IP rating and drop spec, no semi rugged here.  Service options are a must too and you must have a barcode scanner.  In essence these are proper rugged PDA’s but just scaled down.

We’ll look at our current top picks, we’ll tell you what to look out for and hopefully do all the hard work for you here.

5.  Ganedata GX8010

This device is just about to undergo a general spec refresh which will bring it up to date in this class and a probable rise in our rankings with it.  However the GX8010 in current guise is still a great start in entering the small rugged PDA.  Used by 1000’s of totally remote farmers in China, its spec is basic but tough.  It has no GPS but it does have an optional 2D Adaptus barcode scanner, RFID options, Smart card reader and is a full rugged spec.  It’s the least expensive device here at around £550 to the customer.

4. Intermec CS40

Not quite released officially yet the Intermec CS40 device has done very well to be in our top 5 let alone come 3rd.  It’s the other end of the spectrum to the GX8010 is a very much-anticipated .  I cannot say enough about Intermec’s ruggedness and their service is also second to none which is why we have such confidence placing the CS40 here.  The CS40 has  a spec to shame any Rugged PDA, it has a built-in EVA12 barcode scanner and has the option of numeric or qwerty keyboards.  Its small, tough and optimizes what we want to see in the small rugged PDA class.  Only downside is that this is at the £800 level, £660-700  on larger projects at a real push, but you really do get what you pay for.

3. Gen2Wave RP-1000

Also a brand new device the RP-1000 is slightly larger than the above 2 small rugged PDA’s but it’s still just small enough to squeeze in to this category.  It brings a very decent feature set, tested very well in our in-house benchmarks tests.  If you feel you want something slightly larger and more tough in the hand then this is what people are telling us about the RP-1000.  You can spec out the barcode scanner and it has a ready-made list if accessories, including snap-on’s!  Pricing is around the £600 mark.

2. Juniper Archer

Juniper are a niche rugged PDA manufacturer based in the states who have a lot of expertise, bring a lot of quality to the market and they are in many ways even better in terms of quality than Intermec.  The Archer is a device that is built to be rugged and whilst the spec is now aging but trusted in my view the Juniper Archer PDA is how you do fully rugged in a small package.  Tonnes of snap-ons, fantastic battery life, aimed squarely at fully rugged solutions and with a growing service network in the UK it’s always worth a look if you’re in this market.

1. Ganedata GSmart

Like the RP-1000 GaneData’s GSmart is a slightly larger Small Rugged PDA, scraping in a little more comfortably on size but it is also a very competent and configurable Small Rugged PDA.  Our customers often refer to it as a “little Psion IKON” which describes it perfectly. It tops our list right now because it has everything; large Li-Pol battery, great CPU and RAM, GPS and the asymmetric keyboard is very nice to use too.  At around the £670 price point it’s well priced, with great service products and this device, whilst a new kid on the block, is not going to let you down.

So there we have it.  Remember this class of device has to be fully rugged so no Motorola ES400’s or Pidion BM170’s here as these are in our semi-rugged class.  However if you need something that doesn’t look or feel like a brick but still has all the features of a fully RUgged PDA then the above list is what you;re looking for.

Come talk to us if you need any more help

The Rugged and Mobile blog.