The Best Tablets For Manual Jobs

engineerThis article is contributed by Peter Johnson.

If you run a business that operates ‘on site’ such as a construction business or a mining company, then you might not spend much time worrying about computers or technology. Generally the assumption is that computers are more of a concern for offices and that they require desks, power sockets and the like to be of much use.

This is an outdated view however, and these days it’s important to realise that all that is changing. Thanks to the process of convergence, our devices are getting constantly smaller and more portable, while also getting more powerful, flexible and productive. These days you can do on a handheld tablet what would once have required a full-blown desktop PC.

The good news for businesses that work outdoors is that this gives them access to the same kinds of productivity tools that would once have been restricted to office use. No matter what your organisation does, you can now benefit from tablet devices – you just need to think carefully about the ones you invest in. Here we will look at some of the best tablet devices out there for use on-site and demonstrate just how useful they can be.

Slate PCs

Slate PCs are hybrids that straddle the line somewhere between tablets and laptops. Their advantage is that they run full Windows and that they allow you to run all of your usual software. If you rely on a particular database for your business then these tablets will allow you to access those from wherever you are and update them on the fly. They will run Word, Excel and all your usual productivity software, but at the same time they will be easy to pick up and use while standing.

What’s important to note here though is that there are two types of slate PCs. You have those that use Atom processors such as the HP ElitePad and those that use i5 and i7 processors such as the Surface Pro or the Sony Duo 11. The former are slower devices that have more in common with the netbooks of old. They struggle with multitasking and power-intensive applications, but they are also very light and have a great battery life. These are also cheaper and so are probably slightly more suited to work in an oil field or business site where they may be subject to some weathering. The Iconia W5 takes portability to the next level with a great 8” form factor – though it can be a little fiddly to use.

That said, if you are keen to use a top-end device, then very soon the Surface Pro 2 and other Haswell-processor-sporting devices will be on the market. These still have heat issues and will still be pricy and heavy, but on the plus side their battery life is more along the lines of a traditional tablet.

iPads

The biggest and most popular tablets available at the moment however are iPads. This is Apple’s original tablet which is built mainly for media consumption with a relatively low powered spec sheet but smooth, buttery performance and a light and well-designed form factor. This is a tried and tested tablet for use in the field with a lot of support, but it won’t allow you to access your full range of productivity software like those named above. If you just want your staff to be able to use Face Time for on-site conferencing and to access and edit basic Excel sheets though, then an iPad will do what you need it to.

Android

Android devices include tablets like the Nexus 7, the Galaxy Tab and the Sony Xperia Tablet. These devices straddle the line between the flexibility of Windows 8 tablets and the ease and practicality of Apple products. Essentially they do the same thing as an iPad, but they give you a little more freedom to install 3rd party apps, to customise the settings and to handle things like attachments. They also offer a little more choice and freedom in terms of form factor as you aren’t just stuck with a single product to choose from as with the iPad.

Author Bio: Peter Johnson works for Oilfield Traders Australia, retailers of large diameter heavy wall line pipe. He likes to paint and is passionate about collecting works of art by Australian artists.

Image Credits:

  • engineer image courtesy of tiverylucky via FreeDigitalPhotos.net
  •  License: Creative Commons image source
  •  License: Creative Commons image source
  •  License: Creative Commons image source
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