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Rugged Tablets vs Rugged Cases: What's the Difference?

With the high prices of rugged tablets, it may be tempting to purchase a consumer tablet and equip it with a durable case. While this might be the right choice for certain applications, tablets with cases may not always make the cut. What are the differences between rugged tablets and rugged cases? 




While a case will increase the durability of a consumer tablet, it won’t be able to match the ruggedness of a tablet built for tough environments. The exterior shells may even appear the same, with similar corner bumpers and hard outer shells, but the interior will be inferior in consumer tablets. Rugged tablets are built from the inside out for durability, each component designed and secured with rough work in mind.  


Water Resistance 


IP ratings are something that every rugged tablet should have. How water resistant they are, or even water proof, will vary from tablet to tablet, but it’s almost inevitably higher than the resistance a case can provide. Most cases provide little if any resistance to water and dust. Tablets built rugged can range in their resistances from the common IP65 rating, which would make it resistant to dust and a light rain, to IP68, which would mean it’s completely waterproof to a certain depth. This is achieved through gaskets that were placed during the tablet’s construction to ensure a near perfect seal. That’s something the most rugged cases just can’t match. 




Depending on the tablet most consumer tablets have few ports. Some, such as the iPad, require extra cables in order to connect something as simple as a USB to the device. Rugged tablets are built for enterprise. Theyre often constructed with multiple ports, taking into consideration what companies might require so theyll be able to use any additional tools without difficulty. 




Here is where consumer tablets have the advantage. While the technology gap is closing between consumer tablets and those built to be rugged, the consumer still comes out on top. Companies like Apple and Microsoft are always developing new features and technologies to put into their latest devices. While rugged tablets are by no means outdated, they may not have the most cutting-edge features that their consumer counterparts do.  




Each year a new, updated consumer tablet seems to hit the market. This has more implications than just cool new technology. Any older tablets will quickly be phased out and made obsolete, leaving businesses with tools that will no longer function as they should.  


Rugged tablets avoid this issue. They’re designed and built with longevity in mind. Where a consumer tablet might be outdated in just a few years, rugged tablets are built to function for five years or more. This keeps businesses from having to update their technology every year, which costs both time and money. 




Consumer grade tablets might have the newest features and be able to be made more durable by adding a case, but that won’t help their batteries. Their batteries will last only as long as the charge before they have to be returned to a power station. Tablets built to be rugged often have longer lasting batteries, allowing them to be used for longer on a single charge. In addition to this, some can be equipped with hot-swappable batteries. This allows batteries to be changed without powering down the device, further increasing the length of time you can utilize the device 




While it’s possible to mount either a consumer or a rugged tablet, there are certain instances where one is better than another. In retail, if the tablet is going to be out in front of customers, it’s a common choice to go with a sleeker, more familiar tablet to the public. iPads are a popular choice, but they don’t have any rugged iPads available. That’s where a rugged case will help. 


If you plan on mounting a tablet to a forklift or any other kind of vehicle, a consumer tablet, even in a rugged case, may not be the best choice. Large machines are rough on technology, with constant shaking and jostling of the device. Rugged tablets are built to handle such abuse, while consumer tablets make crack under the pressure. 




When it to whether to choose a rugged tablet or a rugged case, it will depend on the job and work environment that the tablet will be taken into. For most, a rugged tablet will be the best choice in order to keep your workers as efficient as possible. If you already have consumer tablets, theres no harm in outfitting them with a rugged case. In fact, it could just save you the headache and trouble of a broken device. 

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