iPhones, and Androids, and Tablets…Oh My!
Yes, the choosing of a device can be as scary as lions and tigers and bears…oh my! With technology ever expanding, it can be a truly difficult task to find a device that will work for your guys out in the field (and not cost you a fortune).
There are a variety of factors to look at when choosing a new device. Here are just a few things to consider:
- Durability – Do your guys work in wet conditions? You may want to look into devices that are water proof (stay away from netbooks or tablets). Do the devices get dropped from time to time? You will want a sturdier device such as PDA’s or Smartphones with tough cases. Does it contain enough battery life to make it until recharging is possible? Most devices can last all day but you may require more out of a device (i.e. you run Google Maps or Mappoint. We have heard from customers that these really drain their batteries). Ask the service person at the store how long the battery life is and if you can buy extras to replace it throughout the day or can buy a car charger for it.
- Price – You will want to look around when shopping for a new device. Used devices on Amazon or Ebay can be great deals. When thinking of price you will also want to think of how often you will have to replace these devices. Do your devices break out in the field often? In our experience, net books are the least expensive. Next would be PDA’s, followed by smartphones and then tablets. But again, check out discount sites to find deals on used devices.
- Mobility – Do you need something that is easy to carry out in the field? Smartphones and PDA’s are the most portable. Maybe you don’t need your field device to actually move in the field though. Many of our owners want their devices to stay in the trucks. That way they are never left behind, never drowned, and rarely dropped. In this case we suggest a stationary netbook. Tablets are a trade-off between the two. They are easier to carry around than netbooks, but they are a little bigger than phones and PDA’s so they can’t be stashed in your techs pockets.
- Internet Connection – Does your device require a constant internet connection to function? Some of our customers work in areas where cell phone service can be limited and getting an internet connection can be a hassle but have no fear not all devices require a constant internet connection.That way the technician can still add a part even in the deepest of basements! Android devices, netbooks and PDA's can function without a constant internet connection but iPhones and other non-android mobile devices on the other hand will usually require a constant internet connection.
- Other – Is it something your guys can actually use? Most techs are pretty familiar with netbooks because they most resemble a computer. Smartphones and tablets can be trickier to master if your guys aren’t tech saavy, while PDA’s weren’t designed for working hands. Are there accessories available to make this device even more useful for you (waterproof cases, protective shields against scratching, stylus pens for easier use)? Most phones and tablets come with plenty of accessories to help your techs keep their device safe and easy to use out in the field.
Okay, now take a step back and breathe. We didn’t make this list to stress you out, we just want you to think of all factors before making a purchase. These devices are, in a sense, the life line between the field and office so you want to be sure you are getting enough bang for your buck. Take some time to do some research. As always, knowledge is power my friends. Good luck!