Key Questions When Buying a Mobile Computer
Choosing a handheld terminal for your needs is a difficult decision. Warehousing, logistics, retail and healthcare all have unique requirements. There are a lot of different options on the market with different features and benefits. It can be hard to sift through the many options to find the right terminal for you.
This list of questions will help you narrow down your choices to a few options and ensure that you make the right decision.
Key Questions to Ask:
1. What type of barcodes do I need to scan?
One of the most important factors is the scanning capability of the device. Do you need to scan 1D barcodes, 2D barcodes, QR codes or other specific Barcode Symbologies? It is important to consider future proofing your devices, since 2D barcodes are becoming more common, especially in the healthcare industry following the Falsified Medicines Directive.
2. Do I need a long-range scan engine?
The scanning range of your device is another important factor. Retail, healthcare and delivery generally don’t need long range scan engines. But for warehousing, a long-range scan engine provides big improvements in efficiency.
3. Do I need a physical keypad or just touchscreen?
An all touch mobile computer is suitable for a lot of applications. For retail, it works well because they are generally smaller, lighter and have a bigger screen. They also often work well for logistics and courier drivers. Warehouses often prefer physical keypads because they are more precise and easier to use with gloves.
4. What screen size do I need?
Depending on what applications you want to run, screen size will be an important factor. A bigger screen is generally better as long as it doesn’t negatively affect the device’s portability.
5. How rugged does it need to be?
Most enterprise handheld terminals have a basic level of ruggedness, but some requirements require tougher devices. How high a drop spec do you need—1.2 m, 1.5 m or more? Will the device be exposed to water and what IP rating do you need? Will it need to be able to handle extreme low or high temperatures?
6. What connectivity do I need?
Modern Handheld devices have a wide range of connectivity options. Do you need Wi-Fi and any specific standard (802.11a/b/g/n/ac)? Do you need Bluetooth, NFC or UHF RFID? If you have a mobile workforce, you may also require 4G connectivity.
7. What operating system do I need?
Do you need Windows Mobile or Android? Support for Windows Mobile is ending in 2020, so it may be time to upgrade. What version of Android do you need? Newer versions will be more secure and provide more software options.
8. How much processing power do I need?
This will be determined by how demanding your software applications are. How powerful does the CPU need to be (eg. 2.0 GHz)? How much RAM and flash storage do you need (eg. 2GB RAM, 16GB ROM)?
9. How much battery life do you need?
How long do your devices need to operate on the battery? Do you require cradles or vehicle charging? Do you need swappable batteries?
10. How much can I spend?
Handheld terminals are available at any price between £300 and £2,000. Spending more money will mean a better-quality device but it’s important to choose the right device at the right price.
11. What warranty period do I need?
Do you need 1-year, 3-year or more? A longer warranty period generally means a better-quality device and protects you from mechanical malfunctions.
12. Can I speak to a Mobile Computing expert about my requirements?
We’re glad you asked. Click the button below to get in touch with our team about your requirements.
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About the Author
Albert Clarke | Sales & Marketing Executive
Albert writes about all topics relating to barcode scanning, mobile computing, RFID and enterprise Wi-Fi. You'll also see him regularly present videos on our YouTube Channel. He's passionate about new technology and the impact it can have.