We’re spending a lot of time updating our Rugged PDA’s.  I thought it would be cool to take a candid look at what has changed and why.

Technology itself

When you look at the first PDA’s rugged or not, the thought of having GPS, an SD card reader and even a phone/3G were things left to Star trek movies to tackle, but now-a-days we’re seeing more and more being packed into the Rugged PDA as it becomes a technology haven and the focus point of innovation for many manufacturers.

Technology as enabler

If you have a gadget that can suddenly tell you where you are then a whole bunch of requirements, solutions and applications are going to spring up that take advantage of this.  We saw in the early days how SatNav grew on the back of GPS enabled PDA’s with no connectivity and how today RFID, NFC especially, 3/4G, GPS and all kinds of data capture features are bringing more and more businesses into the mobile fold.

Size

Whilst Smartphones seem to be getting bigger these days, Rugged Handheld’s are still trending smaller as they strive to become the centre point of the worker both for the solution at hand but also as their main point of communication and collaboration.  Rugged PDA’s have to become usable and as such we’re seeing so many new models now flood the market.

Ruggedness is cheap!

Well it’s certainly easier these days to get a device that’s rugged enough.  You can design, fabricate and fill a rugged PDA in a comparatively low time frame with little risk these days and we’re seeing huge increase in the number devices now available for users, all providing a niche feature as the market grows.

Battery power

One of the biggest reasons Rugged PDA’s are the size and shape they are is the batteries they use and battery technology improves so rapidly that we’re able to pack more and more punch into smaller devices.  Along with this more powerful features cam be driven so VGA LCD’s replace QVGA ones naturally and more features can be used like NFC readers in devices that would have once struggled to work for a few hours.

Reduced functionality

OK, so sounds a bit hypocritical but actually in the past few years we’ve seen demand for less technology being included in PDA’s.  I think this is largely due to the expanding role the Rugged PDA has to take these days so many people don’t want Barcode Scanners in them, RFID or even BT and GPS in some cases.  So despite the “core” specs and features of devices improving every month, there is demand for devices that do far less too.

What next…. you’ll have to wait for our end of year blog for that in full! but what I am seeing right now is huge progress in mobile payments, mobile receipt printing (or lack of) and huge need to manage mobile devices that can put a business at as much risk as they bring fortune.  What I do know is that every new rugged PDA we see has to have something special these days to stand out from the crowd.  Brand isn’t enough any more.

The Rugged and Mobile blog.