Selecting the provider for your mobile devices is a business-critical decision that involves complex dynamics.
Mobile computing has transformed business, creating unprecedented opportunities for the mobile workforce. But for any organisation, choosing the right device – and the right provider – is a business-critical decision that involves complex dynamics.
Field-ready rugged mobile devices don’t exist in a vacuum – just as important to the specifications and quality of the devices themselves are the services that go with them, from creating an initial specification to maintenance and warranty.
When choosing a rugged tablet or notebook, the first thing a business must look at is the device itself – and the term ‘rugged PC’ can mean widely varied things from one vendor to another.
Aside from protection from drops and ingress, other aspects to look at include how well the device is shielded from altitude, humidity, high or low temperatures, rapid changes in temperature, vibration, and freeze or thaw.
Most vendors claim their displays are touch capable and visible outdoors, but there’s more to a display than that.
Other features that can be critical include the ability input in high and low temperatures, use with a capacitive or digitiser pen, use with gloves and operation in the rain.
Look for displays that are visible even in direct sunlight, and don’t forget that a display is one of the most power-hungry elements of any mobile device – low-power screens can mean significantly longer battery life.
With the introduction of new interfaces such as USB Type-C, many vendors are dropping other interfaces that might be needed by your business – requiring the use of adapter cables and dongles.
Look for a vendor that provides common and legacy business interfaces and ports, supporting seamless operation without adapter cables.
In many current devices, operation time on a single charge doesn’t cover the length of a work shift – and batteries are often no longer replaceable.
High-capacity battery options and replaceable batteries can mean lower total cost of ownership (TCO) and better return on investment (ROI).
Businesses should look for longer-life battery options and and exchangeable batteries, enabling multiple shifts without access to power and with minimal downtime.
Smaller form factors can mean devices that are difficult to customise and impossible to service, which can have an impact on total ownership cost.
Look for replaceable components and devices that can be repaired quickly and easily.
And just as important as the promptness of repairs is their quality – businesses must be confident that once a device is fixed there will be no further impact on productivity.
As devices age, they’re more likely to fail, and a vendor should, ideally, account for that in their service plans.
Businesses should look for warranties that can be extended beyond standard coverage, if the need should arise.
Panasonic ranked highest on trust
Panasonic is Europe’s market-leading provider of rugged notebooks and tablets, with its Toughbook line holding 57 percent revenue share of sales in rugged and durable notebooks and tablets.
The vendor’s ruggedised devices also achieved top rankings on trust and customer satisfaction in a recent study covering Europe and North America.
In the newly released VDC Research study, “Beyond the Device: Evaluating the Solutions Capabilities of Leading Rugged Mobile Computing Vendors”, customers ranked Panasonic over its competitors in key areas throughout a device’s lifecycle, including an overall score quantifying how likely a buyer is to recommend the company and product – in which Panasonic was ranked six points ahead of the nearest competition.
In effect, customers named Panasonic the most trusted notebook and tablet supplier.
More specific areas in which Panasonic ranked highest included the ability to understand a company’s needs and provide a matching solution, as well as implementation and technical support.
On the hardware side, Panasonic ranked top on hardware performance, which included rankings for daylight viewability, battery life, drop and impact resistance and vibration and water resistance.
Panasonic also beat its peers on service quality, including maintenance, quality of service and customer service.
Why customers trust Panasonic
Panasonic’s Toughbook rugged notebooks and Toughpad tablets are robustly protected against altitude, temperature shock, humidity, high temperature, vibration, freeze and thaw and low temperatures – far beyond the basics covered by some competing models.
Most Panasonic touch screens can accept input in high and low temperatures, can be used with a capacitive or digitiser pen, can be used with gloves and operated in the rain. They include an anti-reflective layer making them viewable in direct sunlight; in VDC’s study customers ranked Panasonic’s display top on daylight viewability. They’re also low on power consumption, meaning longer battery life.
While many competitors are removing interfaces, Panasonic provides a variety of common and legacy business interfaces and ports, eliminating the need for adapter cables. VDC’s buyer survey also ranked Panasonic’s wireless connectivity one of the best in rugged devices.
Most Panasonic units have exchangeable batteries, reducing downtime for multi-shift duties, and high-capacity battery options are available for long shifts without access to power.
Market-leading service quality
All Panasonic components are replaceable, and parts are guaranteed to be available for a minimum of five years. The company also builds hardware backward compatibility into all its products so that components such as power packs, docks and accessories can be resused from one generation of device to the next.
Panasonic’s repair service is only carried out by authorised service teams staffed by dedicated rugged specialists. The company’s service centre is on the same site as its configuration centre, adding to synergy and efficiency between operations.
The company offers an online self-management tool to speed up repair and maintenance, giving customers visibility and control – and the interface can also be used to book collection of faulty devices. Units going through the service centre are treated the same as production units, with the same exacting quality control process.
Panasonic’s 48-hour repair time is one of the best in the rugged market, and its Rapid Replacement Service can deliver next-day replacement units that are ready for use out of the box.
The company offers tailored levels of service and offers a range of warranties that can be extended on request beyond standard coverage.
Businesses now have access to a range of new opportunities that have opened up due to the availability of mobile devices that are durable enough for a variety of uses in the field.
While choosing the right models and suppliers can be challenging for such a critical function, options do exist that can provide the features and support companies need in a way that minimises cost of ownership and maximises return on investment – making it possible to create a mobile workforce that is truly fit for purpose.