Not all Tablets are Created Equal - Differences between Consumer and Rugged Tablets

Not all Tablets are Created Equal - Differences between Consumer and Rugged Tablets

Published on
October 16, 2018 at 12:16:00 AM PDT October 16, 2018 at 12:16:00 AM PDTth, October 16, 2018 at 12:16:00 AM PDT

Which is the right choice – consumer or rugged tablets? No doubt that’s a question that anyone with the need for such technology has asked themselves. Other questions that might be asked include: What’s the real difference between the two? Is one superior to another, and if so, why? Here are six differences you’ll quickly notice between the consumer and rugged tablets.

Use Case

First and foremost, if you are considering purchasing a tablet you should consider the use case. If you plan to use your tablet at your desk for work or school, or in your home, a consumer tablet may offer everything you want without the need for protection against drops or the elements. However, if you plan to take your tablet with you, use it in the field or in a warehouse, or in an environment where you might encounter weather, dust, or potential drops or shocks, then you should consider a rugged tablet to improve the life of your technology and your productivity.


Tablets can be expensive. If you need a rugged tablet, that could potentially increase the initial cost. An iPad® can cost anywhere from about $300-$800. Microsoft® offers different models of Surface® tablets from $400-$900. Rugged tablets can range anywhere from $600 for an to over $3,000 for high-performance, high-productivity tablets. Rugged technology can be expensive, but if you work in a challenging industry, it might be necessary to a purchase a rugged tablet – that could potentially save you money in the long run.


There’s a drastic difference between how a consumer tablet is built compared to a rugged tablet. Consumer tablets are often sleek and designed with an appearance to please the customer. Rugged tablets, on the other hand, are built thick, hardy, and made-to-last. Rugged tablets are built to be just that – rugged. They’re designed to be tough, to withstand the harsh environments you take them into so that you can stay productive. Drop a consumer tablet even from a minimal height, and you risk breaking it. Drop a rugged tablet and you can pick it up and keep working.


Many customers have experienced the fact that modern technology is often quickly outdated. A new iPad or smartphone seems to be offered every year, making older models obsolete – or at least unwanted – in no time. The rugged industry marches to a different beat. Rugged technology is designed for longer work lives. Where consumer technology is easily outdated and can quickly reach its end-of-life, rugged tablets are often built and serviced much longer; they can stay in the field and continue to function as smoothly as they did on day one.


Technology is something that is often considered when purchasing a tablet. Name brand consumer tablets are often built with cutting-edge options; the latest touch screens, fastest processors, and large-capacity hard drives are not only common, but expected in the latest releases for consumer name brands. Because rugged tablets are built for a different purpose – lasting in rugged environments so you can do the work where the work gets done – customers may not see new releases with cutting-edge options as often. While the technology is by no means outdated – MobileDemand tablets come standard with Windows 10® and customers can update drivers regularly – rugged tablets may not offer the brand-new-to-market technology that consumer-grade tablets provide.

It’s also important to mention that often-times what makes up the latest touch screens, fastest processors, and large-capacity hard drives may decrease the ruggedness of a tablet and increase the weight, causing the tablets to no longer meet the rugged standards or requirements needed to effectively use the tablet out in the field. It’s important to again consider the use case before determining whether getting the latest upgrade every year is important enough to purchase a consumer tablet over a rugged tablet.


Customization is one area where rugged technology separates itself from consumer tablets, depending on who you purchase from. When you purchase a consumer tablet, you can buy a case, a keyboard, and maybe a few other attachments that are available on the market. Rugged tablets on the other hand can be highly customizable, with many companies willing to work specifically with customers to create custom mounting and cabling solutions for whatever the customer’s challenge may be. With customers needing to attach everything from 3D cameras to MSR to pin pads to scanners and scan handles, companies like MobileDemand, who are willing to build custom brackets and attachment solutions, ensure there is little that can’t be added to a rugged tablet.

There are benefits to both consumer tablets and rugged tablets. You need to evaluate at your own industry and work environment and consider these six differences to determine which will work best for you. If you’re still not sure what you should use, contact a MobileDemand Rugged Tablet Expert – or 319-363-4121.