There’s another heavy-duty tablet vying for service technicians’ attention — this time, from American Industrial Systems, a company specializing in mobile computers for military and industrial use. Designed with the field worker (not the consumer) in mind, AIS’ “semi-rugged” tablet PC, released on Monday, features field-specific elements, including a 10.4” low-reflective screen viewable in nearly any light condition, water and dust resistance and added shock absorption that’s capable of sustaining repeated 3-foot drops. It retails for $1,499.
The 2.6-lb device includes WiFi and Bluetooth technologies, allowing workers in the field to stay connected with coworkers and the back office. The battery in AIS’ tablet will run for six hours on a single charge — a shorter duration than the iPad’s 10-hour battery life, but the AIS tablet allows users to swap batteries in the field without losing power. Here’s the spec sheet, if you want more detail.
As we’ve mentioned before on The SmartVan, tablet applications in service fall into two groups: consumer-first devices that have migrated to business (the iPad and Samsung’s Galaxy, for example) and tablets built specifically for a business user (Motion’s CL900 or Trimble’s Ranger 3). AIS’ tablet model certainly falls into the latter category. A magnetic swipe reader, credit card reader and barcode scanner are a few of the optional accessories that may make the tablet more practical than a consumer device for certain field service managers.
As TSIA’s John Ragsdale recently explained on The SmartVan, the iPad and consumer tablet market has really democratized mobile for business, especially around the cost question. The iPad and its ilk are cheaper, nimbler and, frankly, cooler than old guard mobile devices designed for the field. They may sacrifice certain features, but the pricing makes the consumer devices instantly more accessible.