With its potential to enhance customer service and increase sales—as well as to yield a wealth of other benefits—mobile POS (mPOS) has become a popular option in the retail and hospitality space. To fully leverage its advantages, you’ll probably need ruggedized tablet POS devices—devices which, as the term “ruggedized” implies, are designed to continue operating through their life cycle under all exposed working conditions (e.g., extreme temperatures or a dusty environment) and despite all circumstances (e.g., being dropped or spilled upon). But how do you tell whether any tablet you’re considering is ruggedized enough, and if you’re buying from the right manufacturer? Asking these simple questions should give you a good idea.
1. What is the drop rating of the ruggedized tablet under consideration?
“Drop rating” refers to the distance between the point from which a ruggedized tablet can be dropped and the surface on which it lands, without damage to the unit. Most experts recommend that ruggedized tablet devices deployed in retail and hospitality environments have a drop rating of four feet onto a concrete floor, with multiple drops.
2.Is the ruggedized tablet dust- and water-resistant?
All ruggedized tablet offerings also have a two-digit “ingress protection rating”—or IP—which is expressed in levels. The first digit of each IP rating indicates the level of protection against dust; the second digit, the level of protection against liquids.
IP ratings range from 0 to 7 for dust and from 0 to 8 for liquids. Like all ruggedized computers, most ruggedized tablet offerings have a dust protection level of 5 and a water protection level of at least 4. Keep in mind that the degree of dust and water resistance varies significantly from level to level. For example, a dust level of 5 means that some dust can get into the unit, whereas a ruggedized tablet with dust protection level 6 of 6 is completely dust proof. Experts say an IP rating of 54 is sufficient for any ruggedized tablet that will be deployed in a retail or hospitality environment.
3. Can the ruggedized tablet be used in both indoor and outdoor environments?
With mPOS solutions in your retail or restaurant technology toolkit, order-taking, transactions, and other functions (such as inventory counts) can be completed indoors or outdoors. Consequently, to be ruggedized enough for use in stores and dining establishments, any tablet you’re seriously considering must stand up not only to dust and moisture, but also to heat and cold. Otherwise, it may cease to function, possibly at the most inopportune time.
Like manufacturers of all ruggedized units, ruggedized tablet vendors typically configure their hardware to a military standard called MIL-STD-810G. The standard comprises about 24 laboratory test methods that cover a wide range of environments, including extreme temperatures. For best results, ensure that the ruggedized tablet you choose conforms to this standard.
4. What type of warranty, support, and repair options are available?
Despite the fact that it is more durable than any consumer-grade tablet, a ruggedized tablet should carry a warranty that is comparable to warranties that cover non-rugged units. Remember, though, that most warranties—even warranties on ruggedized tablet POS hardware—will not cover damage due to abuse, misuse, neglect, smoke exposure accidents, and unusual physical or electrical stress.
Support and repair should be offered throughout the unit. Look for a manufacturer whose technicians are fully trained to diagnose and repair problems that may occur with ruggedized tablet hardware.
As is true when choosing any type of retail or hospitality IT solution, selecting from among a cadre of ruggedized tablet POS units is not a process that should be undertaken in anything less than the most methodical fashion. Thoroughly investigating the answers to the above questions will lead to the best possible purchasing outcome.