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Paying More Up-Front For Tablet PC Saves you Money in the Long-Run

One of the toughest lessons in business life is the fact that items which seem “cheaper” up front often turn out to be more costly down the road. Every equipment purchase has two components – the initial cost, and the cost to operate it – which is why budget-conscious executives now focus on total cost of ownership, or TCO. If you’re comparing a rugged tablet PC against lighter-duty devices, it’s crucial to let TCO be your guide.

Implementing a technology refresh? Equipping your unit with mobile computers for the first time? Use our handy TCO Calculator to help with the decision making process.


Features are important, but will it last?

There’s no question consumer quality tablets, smartphones, etc. cost less. And many now come with lots of features that make them tempting. But when it comes to mobile devices, industry experts say purchase price typically represents less than a third of TCO. It’s that second stage – the cost of actually using your devices – that ultimately determines long-term value and ROI.

rugged tablet pc retail supply chain barcode scannerEvery time a piece of equipment breaks down, it costs you money -- out-of-pocket repair costs, labor to make the repairs and out-of-service delays that carve into productivity and frustrates employees. And even under optimum conditions, consumer-grade devices aren’t built to last as long. So if you never had to repair it, you’d have to replace it more often than a more rugged tablet PC.

And then there’s the intangible but undeniable cost of customer dissatisfaction, when equipment failure affects timing or quality of service. The potential impact of a lost customer can be substantial. And permanent.

The key is thinking strategically.

What level of ruggedization do you really need? Before making any purchase, you’ll want to carefully assess how and where mobile devices will be used. Are your tablets likely to get tossed around, dropped, wet or dirty or face prolonged vehicle vibration? Do your people work in bright sunlight or especially dark conditions, or in extreme temperatures, or over very long hours?

It’s possible a consumer-level product will do nicely, but more likely you’ll need significantly greater durability and reliability. On the other hand, you may not need a rugged tablet PC that meets the most extreme standards. A fully ruggedized device could cost four times as much as a consumer device, and it might also weigh considerably more. Semi-rugged tablets can comfortably handle most mid-range conditions common to many working environments.

By carefully analyzing your needs in advance, you’ll be able to make the smartest long-term buying decisions. You’ll also be better-positioned to “future-proof” your choices, purchasing equipment that’s entirely appropriate for your needs now but expandable as your needs change, extending usability and value.

You don’t need a plethora of devices.   

Ruggedized mobile devices are an all-in-one solution. There’s no need to buy, store, drag around or maintain multiple cell phones, mobile computers, bar code readers, printers, cameras, GPS units, etc. That streamlines productivity and costs for your IT folks, too.

Whatever you choose, plan on regular upgrades. Older equipment is more likely to fail – Intel suggests optimum lifespan for a mobile device is about 3.5 years – and out-of-warranty repairs can cost more than replacement. The latest equipment can do even more to improve productivity, too, making upgrading a doubly-smart financial move.

A rugged tablet PC can assure 24/7 connectivity for your field personnel, giving them data gathering and communications tools to function at maximum efficiency and productivity. But a purchasing misstep can put that profitability boost at risk. Protect your budget by thinking “TCO” before you purchase.


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