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Tough tablets are not a tough sell


Field workers appreciate the new generation of ruggedized tablets that help them do their jobs. But sometimes putting a tough shell around a standard sized device isn’t enough.

For those who need more real estate than its biggest model (12.1-in.) Motion Computing has released the 12.5-in. R12, which the company says is light enough to tote around yet has an HD screen.

“We wanted a larger screen and a smaller device,” said Scott Ball, the company’s Canadian manager, “that also supports a keyboard.”

It weighs just shy of 3 lbs. (1.34 kg) – about a pound less that the model it replaces — can be used with a stylus, has bevelled edges for an easier grip and fingerprint reader. It includes LTE cellular capability and an SD card slot. Buyers have a choice of 64-bit Windows 7 or 8.1. It has an 8MP rear facing/ 2MP front facing cameras and three microphones. There’s a choice of 4 or 8 GB of memory, with flash storage from 64GB to 256GB.

The hot swappable batteries can last over nine hours.

It meets the IP54 standard for rain protection (“You can hold it under a tap,” says Ball).

Options available now or soon include a wireless keyboard that magnetically attaches to the tablet, a desktop dock with a battery charger, a barcode/RIFD reader and a vehicle dock.

Pricing starts at under US$2,300 for a model with an Intel i5 processor and goes up to well over US$3,000 with an i7 CPU.

“We’re trying to develop products that although they’re rugged you don’t sacrifice industrial design, usability, weight,” Ball said.

For security, administrators can treat the R12 the way they do Windows desktops or laptops, he added.

Interestingly, Ball said he runs into a bit of Windows 8 prejudice among some buyers, who say they won’t touch the OS. He also admits that a number of customers want XP on their tablets. When it’s suggested these organizations may be trying to keep to one OS as a corporate standard, Ball has doubts – these organizations won’t even try Win8, although they acknowledge trying Android and Apple tablets.

“For the 15 tablet users, use Windows 8,” he says he argues. “I’m not asking them to change their entire enterprise.”

Win8, designed for a touch device, will encourage user adoption, he says. And if a customer buys Motion tablets but uses don’t adopt it that’s failure, Ball said.

“Paper is still our biggest competition in the field. It’s what people revert to when the device and the solution isn’t quite working the way they need it to.”

Motion Computing devices are sold through partners including Bell Canada, Dell Canada, CDW and KMP Designs (which also makes field services software).