The best tablet for field work will be designed to be used in harsh conditions, and have saved countless hours of paper data entry, once deployed. These beautiful pieces of technology have been lauded by staff working on wetland delineations, military personnel, oil and gas workers, university researchers and anyone else collecting data outside. Imagine being able to avoid paper forms, out of sync information, misspellings or typos that could be mission critical, and the list goes on.
A standard tablet cannot endure harsh environments and can easily be damaged. Therefore, it is important for data collection personnel working in such conditions to use rugged or field tablets. These mobile users are usually a critical part of any business, and it is very important that they have the correct devices and software.
There is a large range of rugged tablets available, but if you need one for outdoor use there are 6 main features to consider:
- The brightness of the screen and how reflective the screen or screen protector is. You want a bright screen, with little glare. Most screens are useless outdoors because they cannot be read in direct sunlight. Make sure the description states sunlight readable.
- Waterproof. If you potentially need to use it in rain or around water, it should be IP67 rated. Anything less can lead to the failure of the tablet and loss of data.
- Heat tolerance. Check the specs to see what the maximum operating temperature is. Look for a minimum of 122F to 140F. This may seem trivial, but a tablet in full summer sunlight can reach and exceed 122F quite quickly.
- GPS. Does the unit need to have a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver? In many cases with outdoor data collection, GPS is mandatory. Look for a tablet with Global Navigation (GNSS), which is a satellite system that is used to achieve a geographic location of a user’s receiver anywhere in the world. Also, accuracy and time-to-acquire satellites appear to be much better.
- Battery Life. Nothing kills the idea of mobile data entry faster than a user who got half way in and the battery died. Look for 8-10 hours minimum, and ideally one with a dual battery or exchangeable battery.
- Operating System. Which program(s) will you want to run on the tablet? Word or Excel? Or android apps? What about apple apps? You get the point. Figure out which software you want to use, then pick your tablet operating system. We use Android running Device Magic usually, but having Microsoft on a table would enable a documents with macros, or even run ArcPad or other GPS program.
The best field tablet units tend to run a bit higher in price, however, a rugged field tablet that ticks all the boxes will not be cheap. As with most things, you get what you pay for.
Summary | The Best Tablet for Field work
The Best Tablet for Fieldwork in our opinion is the Vanquisher 8-Inch Ultra Rugged Tablet PC (2nd Gen). It meets most-to-all the above criteria. With additional specs such as:
- Built-in U-blox GPS module with high accuracy.
- Supports GNSS Positioning (network not required).
- Dual cameras.
- 7500mAh non-detachable Lithium battery.
- USB 3.0 (micro-USB).
- Bluetooth 4.0.
- WIFI 802.11a/b/g/n dual bands.
- Micro HDMI interface.
Priced right, this rad little field tables comes in just under $500, and runs Microsoft Windows 10 which allows for Acrobat, Excel, QGIS, or ArcPad data collection. For more details check it out here on our site. However, there are a few more solid choices presented as well below, and over at this page on our site.
Panasonic Touchpad FZ-M1
The Panasonic Touchpad is clearly one of the Best Tablets for Fieldwork. It has a decent sized 7″ screen that is good for those who want to quickly type in messages and read emails. The latest Panasonic Touchpad FZ-M1 operates on Windows 8.1. The rugged tablet comes with a good dual core processor speed, and so it can easily execute commands without freezing like more common mobile devices. The 8mp camera is good enough for data collection use (but not great), especially when conducting research outdoors. It has a good portable weight of 1.2 lbs and may come with a case, depending on the seller. However, for those working in dusty environments, an outer case on this rugged tablet will protect it better. One drawback to the Panasonic Touchpad is the price, over $1,000.
Conqueror Rugged Tablet Android Handheld Scanner With Honeywell 1D Laser Scan Engine – 2nd Place Holder of the Best Tablet for Field Work
The Conqueror rugged field tablet is great warehousing and enterprise mobile data collection solution tablet, and certainly one of the best tablets for field work. This workhorse runs on Android 5.1 OS. The Quad-core CPU is plenty to run heavy collection programs. This tablet comes with 2gb of storage, and a 7″ 1280*720 dpi high definition display protected by the industry standard Corning Gorilla glass panel. Another bonus feature on this tablet is the 3G smart phone capability for Data connection & 13.56M RFID reader (supports NFC). The Conqueror is ideal for scan-intensive work situations that require high efficiency barcode data capture throughout the workflow. This tablets boats a rugged exterior, is very comfortable to carry all day, has ergonomic scan buttons on the tablet side allows for relaxing barcode scanning, and is ideal for mobile data collection & enterprise field applications. This is probably our 3rd place pick for the Best Tablet for Field Work.
Getac F110 Rugged Tablet
The Getac F110 Rugged Tablet is a great windows platform rugged tablet that is very light for outdoor use. It comes with the latest 6th generation Intel core processor, and it is also a very fast device. The RAM is 4GB and storage capacity is up to 1TB depending on your choice. You can use the device to capture decent field data since it comes with a standard 8-megapixel front camera and a rear camera. This field tablet is a little pricey, but it is very good for those who want to experience the nice rigidity feature. It is one of the highest rated rugged tablets since it can withstand many rough field conditions such as extreme heat, moisture and even drops from high points. With a dual battery support, you can forget about power outages when using this device. However, this GPS does not come with a GPS receiver (a Bluetooth GPS is always an option).
The updated GETAC F140 looks even better!
Vanquisher – IP67 Rugged Tablet PC, Incorporated Symbol Scanner & RFID/NFC running Android 5.1
This version of the Vanquisher rugged field tablet is waterproof, but runs on Android 5.1 and has a built in Symbol Scanner and RFID. It’s a great looking tablet, with a built-in hand strap. The scanner may add a bit more bulk than most people need though. However, this scanner would be an asset for Nursery management, warehouse work, greenhouse management and data entry, or anything with inventory management. The built in GPS delivers fairly high accuracy, at 10m. This tablet would work well for a construction foreman checking labeled materials in and out, in a rugged environment.
WinBridge S933 Rugged Tablet 7.0″ Android 4.4
The WinBridge S933 boasts a Quad Core CPU, a beatuiful HD 1280×800 display. Is waterproof, Shockproof, and dustproof. This tablet meats most-to-all of the earlier listed criteria as well, and is a rugged industrial tablet. This particular tablet wouldn’t be great for field work however, as the battery is reported to only last about 4.5 hours. It also runs a slightly older version of Android, 4.4. The 13mp camera is an improvement over other tablets, but the weight is a bit heavy at 4-lbs.? This tablet is a decent option, but for the price range, it’s not the best. Someone willing to spend only a couple hundred dollars more can get a much nicer field tablet.
HP Elite Pad 1000 G2
The HP Elite Pad 1000 G2 is a more affordable rugged tablet compared to the former. It is good for students, or workers in a clean environment, such as indoors or possibly in and out of a truck, who cannot afford the other expensive brands of rugged tablets. Not waterproof, this tablet requires a cover. The screen is big at 10″ and therefore it is ideal for running full screen applications. One benefit of this tablet is that it runs on a Solid State Drive (SSD), which means you may not lose all your data if you drop it, as the hard drive can’t skip. It has a good processor speed at 1.6 GHz, and can be used for standard work levels. This tablet does have a rear facing camera, but it’s not where HP invested their money.
The following tablets have GPS, but aren’t rugged, and not ready for outdoor field work. However, sometimes cheaper, thinner, and faster is better. Tablets are amazing and multi-functional gadgets. They are packed with incredible features that enhance field data collection efficiency. Perhaps one of the best features enabled by mobile field use is GPS navigation systems.
The Top GPS enabled light duty Tablets
Google Nexus 9
The Google Nexus 9 GPS tablet is powered by Android Lollipop v5.0. It has an 8.9 inch screen that provides a 2048×1536 display made from Gorilla Glass. It is equipped with a NVDIA Tegra 64-Bit graphic card with 2GB RAM and extended memory with the capacity of 16GB. It has front and rear camera with 1.6MP and 8MP resolution respectively. The Google Nexus 9 is designed using a brushed metal and a thin bezel on the side. This is the latest addition by Google to the growing list of tablets armed with GPS functionality that provides excellent navigational support and field data collection abilities.
In case you are looking for 3G GPS tablet with GSM capability, this is definitely the best choice for you. The Neutab 10.1 supports 2G/3G network. Those who are planning to run Waze or Google Map can insert their SIM directly on the device to make the application work. Aside from that, it also provides an amazing viewing angle. The display screen delivers vivid and crystal clear images that allow you to view the rich texture and bright color at different angles. It also comes with dual SIM feature which may be useful to those who want to switch their service provider.
Google Nexus 7
Google also released the 2nd-gen of Nexus 7 that comes with an exceptional resolution of 1900×1200. It is armed with Quad Core Qualcomm Snapdragon. Compared to the first-gen GPS tablet, the Nexus 7 is considerably thinner and lighter. This is equipped with an Android 4.3 OS and the massive 3950mAH battery that allows the user to use it non-stop for 10 hours.
The Simbans Presto is the perfect solution if you have tight budget. Despite of the affordable price, it also has a premium display screen of 1280×800. It is armed with 1GB RAM and rear and front camera with corresponding resolution of 5MP and 2MP. Powered by Quad Core MediaTek, this GPS tablet allows multitasking without encountering the dreaded frozen screen. The HD Screen provides amazing viewing option. It comes with mini-USB port and Bluetooth capability.
There are more GPS tablets on the market that offer advanced features and powerful hardware. However, the tablets listed above ?are solid choices when it comes to running a navigational application, for the price and size. We hope you’ve enjoyed reading this article, and that it helped you find The Best Tablet for Fieldwork on the market.
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