Rugged Laptop or Rugged Tablet — How to Decide on the Right Mobile Computer for Law Enforcement

Whether you decide to implement a tablet or laptop solution into your department is completely dependent on the necessary requirements to create a real-time situational awareness crime center for every officer.

We all know how unpredictable and fast-moving law enforcement can be. We can all recall the days when officers carried handhelds the size of a brick, cell phones were an expensive status symbol, no inter-connectivity to personnel was available, and long trips back to the station to input the day’s data entry was a tedious and dreaded task. Who could have predicted the law enforcement workflow of the future — reliable and continual communication, instant access to critical records, GPS guidance, e-citations, fingerprint authentication readers, smartcard and magnetic card readers, body-worn cameras, in-vehicle printing, on-scene incident reporting, barcode and RFID readers, automatic license plate readers, and law enforcement oriented apps and software — these advancements have made it possible for officers to have a real-time crime center. Whether you decide to implement a tablet or laptop solution into your department is completely dependent on the necessary requirements to create a real-time situational awareness crime center for every officer.

Within the past five years’ tablets have become an evolving form factor, some pledging the case for tablets becoming the mobile computing tool of the future for law enforcement, gaining momentum into the market so strongly laptops are being thrown into the abyss of the past. However, opinions differ on whether a tablet can outperform the old tried and trusted mobile workstations via a laptop or notebook, as both have their individual advantages. Keep reading on to discover the advantages of both mobile solutions — tablets and laptops for law enforcement.

The Pros of Rugged Tablet Solutions

Why should you choose a rugged tablet solution for your department? The choice between equipping your workforce with laptops or tablets is dependent upon whether officers are in a patrol car, at a desk, on foot, or in the office. Do officers want to take the device outside of the vehicle? Tablets are a highly effective tool for police motorcycles which can be mounted on handle bars or in the saddle bag, as well as patrol cars, SWAT teams and investigators. Detectives can use rugged tablets to take on-scene film footage and images without requiring expensive digital cameras to capture evidence.

Tablets are light weight and small enough for handheld use and take up minimal space inside police vehicles. Specialized uses for tablets include signature captures, barcode scanning for ID verification and VIN number scanning, field interview creation, evidence photography, plus the ability to exit a vehicle while filming real-time video of emergency situations to properly assess the requested resources for dispatch. Officers can take a tablet from the vehicle to the street and back to the office to be docked and used as a desktop PC — this seamless transition is the definition of true mobile computing. In the past, display real estate has been an issue with officers using tablets for their main computing solution but today tablet screen size has become comparable to the laptop or notebook and even offer digitized screens for glove-touch and sunlight viewability. What about data entry? Many rugged tablets have backlit companion keyboards that seamlessly snap-on or bolt-on for quick typing ability. Rugged tablets are a practical solution offering complete mobility allowing for routine work to be more streamlined in the field, an imperative element in creating intelligent, real-time crime centers.

 The Pros of Rugged Laptop Solutions

Not every rugged laptop is created equal and this is especially true when deciding which laptop solution to implement into your department. Many rugged laptops are purpose built for public safety and offer touchscreens for tapping and zooming, stylus pens for signatures and on-screen entry, a thin and light design, and ergonomic features such as swivel screens to be viewed by individuals both on the driver and passenger sides of the car.

What about removing the device from the vehicle? Many officers never remove their device from the police vehicle and when given the choice, would rather not. When a mobile device is removed from the vehicle such as a rugged tablet the chance of the device being broken, driven over, stolen or misplaced is highly likely. When this happens, the device must be replaced which can be very costly over time. An important aspect of a law enforcement laptop or notebook is the proper vehicle mounting solution. The last thing an officer needs is a large bulky computer impeding the process and increasing risk. Vehicle docking stations and consoles keep rugged laptops charged and ready to go while providing shock absorption and stability. Rugged laptops will continue to evolve aiming to make jobs more efficient and productive — we see this today in the adoption of the two-in-one hybrid notebook which can be used as a laptop or tablet. For those who need the stability of a laptop, yet the light weight flexible form factor of a tablet, a two-in-one device may be the right solution for your department.

When the time comes to implement new and advanced technology whether it be a tablet, laptop or a two-in-one device, police computers must be durable, high performing, easy to use with custom features and options, along with a realistic price point — an equation for value and return on investment.

The mobile solutions experts at Group Mobile work with police departments nationwide and can assist you in determining the best equipment for your application and budget.

The ROI of Rugged Computers: Are They Worth the Investment?

Rugged mobile computers have the potential to offer a stunning return on investment for your business. When you work with a rugged laptop, tablet, or handheld you can be confident in the fact, no matter where work takes you, your rugged device can come along.

When you choose the ideal laptop or tablet for your computing needs away from the office, you want to be sure you’re getting a product that will stick with you for time to come. Rugged computers have a higher price tag than many consumer devices. You want to be sure, if you’re going to spend money on a ruggedized device, that it’s going to be worth the investment. Knowing the (ROI) return on investment of rugged computers can help you make those critical decisions for your business.

Rugged Computers Go the Extra Mile

For many individuals, from contractors working on-site to people who work outside on a regular basis, a computer is only as useful as the device will allow. Rugged computers are designed to be usable wherever you are. They can be used:

  • Out in the rain without having to worry about water damage
  • In the back of a truck, bouncing around with the rest of your equipment, without having to worry about damage from vibration
  • In locations exposed to dirt, dust, and other conditions that could cause a more traditional mobile computer to stop functioning

A rugged laptop or tablet’s greatest ROI is that it can go anywhere you can. Take it with you on those important trips, haul it along when you’re headed out to a job site or out into the wilderness: it’s tough enough to take it.

Rugged Computers are Highly Durable

In some cases, you might not be headed out to a job site or spending a great deal of time outside. That doesn’t mean, however, that accidents can’t happen wherever you are. Ask yourself a few key questions:

  • Do you travel frequently, hauling your computer along with you through airports, to hotels, and anywhere else you have to go?
  • Do you often find yourself setting up at restaurant tables that aren’t as clean as you’d like or where spills are more likely?
  • Are you naturally clumsy, with a tendency to drop your computer bag at the worst possible moment or spill a drink when you’re sitting behind your desk?
  • Do you work in dusty or otherwise dirty conditions on a regular basis?

If any of these conditions ring true for you, it doesn’t matter if you often work in rugged conditions or not. A rugged device could be the solution to everything you need! Any time your mobile computer has to be fixed, you’re losing time and money. Not only do you have to pay for it to be fixed, you also have to find a solution for handling your computing needs while your computer is out of service or put off that work until you have your computer back in your hands. A rugged mobile computer ensures less time lost because it’s less likely to become damaged over the course of a normal work day.

The Support You Need to Keep Running

In every stage of the new device implementation process, from pre-deployment question and answer sessions to support after you’ve gotten used to your new mobile computer, but faced with a problem, you’ll receive all the support you need to make the most of your rugged computer. This includes:

  • Solutions for your most common problems
  • Help figuring out which rugged technology is the right fit for you and your business
  • Vital technical support when you need it most
  • Smooth roll-out services that will have your new technology working seamlessly in no time
  • Training for members of the team who need it
  • Extended help desk and repair of broken items

The investment in a rugged device comes along with all of these vital services, ensuring that you’ll be able to keep your equipment running smoothly. That means minimal lost time for your business as a whole, from the pre-deployment phases to the post-deployment need for support.

Rugged mobile computers have the potential to offer a stunning return on investment for your business. When you work with a rugged laptop, tablet, or handheld you can be confident in the fact, no matter where work takes you, your rugged device can come along. With less lost time, the ability to use your computer even in rugged conditions, and high-quality support, rugged mobile computers are an investment that will certainly pay off. Contact Group Mobile today to learn how we can help choose the right rugged mobile solution for you.

Brand New! — Panasonic Toughpad FZ-Q2 Semi-Rugged, Two-in-One Tablet!

The new Panasonic Toughpad FZ-Q2 combines advanced performance with a flexible form
factor, making it a powerful mobile computing solution for enterprise deployments.

Have you heard the buzz word two-in-one device? Two-in-one devices are set to increase their market share for a number of reasons both for vendors and for customers. Also known as hybrid laptops, these two-in-one laptops are easy to travel with, offering the flexibility as the new norm – where workers might spend some days in the office and some in the field. A hybrid is a laptop where the screen can be completely detached from the keyboard base and serve as a standalone touchscreen tablet. The base is a proper keyboard, complete with USB ports and its own battery source. Two-in-one laptops combine the features of both laptops and tablets, but really give you the best of fz-q2_frontboth worlds!

The new Panasonic Toughpad FZ-Q2 combines advanced performance with a flexible form
factor, making it a powerful mobile computing solution for enterprise deployments. The FZ-Q2 two-in-one tablet comes standard with a full sized backlit keyboard to ease heavy data entry tasks and can be easily detached to provide users with a lightweight, portable tablet. The FZ-Q2 two-in-one tablet can be safely sanitized with a disinfectant solution for home health, food service or inspection applications. Additionally, the FZ-Q2 is equipped with a unique HDMI-in feature for the cable industry and on-site diagnostics. To meet the diverse market needs, the FZ-Q2 two-in-one is equipped with the Intel Core m5 vPro processor, 8GB of onboard RAM, and 128GB or 256GB of solid state drive storage.

A full range of accessories are available with the Toughpad FZ-Q2, notably a full desktop cradle for seamless transition from the office into the field, and a rotating hand strap to achieve maximum productivity. Learn more about the Panasonic Toughpad FZ-Q2…

More Than Meets The Eye: Panasonic Toughpad FZ-M1, Toughpad FZ-G1, and Toughpad FZ-B2!

ToughPad FZ-M1

The Toughpad FZ-M1        The 7-inch, Rugged, Windows workhorse you can drop in your pocket and go!

The Toughpad FZ-M1 runs the Window 8.1 operating system and is an ideal rugged productivity tool for mobile workers. The Panasonic FZ-M1 powered by an Intel Celeron 1.58GHz processor, 4GB RAM, and a 64GB solid state drive. The option performance rugged FZ-M1 models are powered by an Intel Core i5 1.6GHZ vPro processor, 8GB RAM, and a 128 GB solid state drive for incredible speed and performance. The rugged FZ-M1 offers a complete range of embedded wireless options including Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and optional 4G LTE multi carrier mobile broadband with satellite GPS that assists FZ-M1 users to stay connected while in the field. This Panasonic Toughpad FZ-M1 features a brilliant 7″ WXGA daylight-viewable screen. The FZ-M1’s 10-point capacitive multi-tough display supports glove touch and gestures, 720p webcam with mic and a 5MP rear camera. This Panasonic Toughpad FZ-M1 is compact, and tough enough to survive harsh weather conditions, including rain, dust, humidity and explosive atmosphere! The fully rugged Toughpad FZ-M1 is a versatile little device that’s built to survive the worst, all while being small enough to slip into a coat pocket and go! Learn more about the Panasonic Toughpad FZ-M1…


Panasonic Toughpad FZ-G1    

Fully Rugged 10″ Windows Tablet to Power Your Toughest Applications 

The Panasonic Toughpad FZ-G1 is a working machine, this rugged FZ-G1 is designed to go where frailer tablets wouldn’t dare. The fully rugged FZ-G1 pairs a field-tested, fully-rugged chassis with the latest, fourth-generation Intel Core i5 vPro processor and host of features, like glove-sensitive touch screen; a 20 hour, hot- swappable battery; integrated RFID; and much more. 

Toughpad FZ-G1

The fully-rugged Toughpad FZ-G1 runs the Windows 8.1 Pro operating system and offers a flexible user experience while providing critical port connectivity. This Toughpad FZ-G1 will boot up in a tidy six seconds, is packed with a removable 4400mAh battery, which will last the rugged FZ-G1 up to eight hours of usage. The Panasonic FZ-G1 has a 10.1in display and a cut above the average with 1920 x 1200 resolution, the rugged FZ-G1’s display is readable in even the brightest of conditions. The standard FZ-G1 standard model comes with HDMI, single USB 3 port, 3.55mm headset output and a 1.3-megapixel front-facing webcam. The ruggedized FZ-G1 is certified water and dust resistant and can survive being dropped from a height of up to 1.2m. The sturdy armor of the Toughpad FZ-G1 makes it the perfect rugged tablet for heavy-duty outside use, it will earn its keep on building sites and other environments that would be too harsh for a conventional tablet.   
Learn more about the Panasonic Toughpad FZ-G1…

Panasonic Toughpad FZ-B2

7-inch Android Tablet with durability, power and a wide range of configurability options

Toughpad FZ-B2

The Toughpad FZ-B2 rugged 7-inch tablet runs the Android 4.4 operating system and is powered by a Quad-core Intel Celeron processor. The rugged FZ-B2 has a bright 5-point multi-touch, daylight-viewable screen. This FZ- B2 tablet is equipped with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and optional 4G LTE mobile broadband with satellite GPS keeping field-based workforces connected. The Panasonic Toughpad FZ-B2 offers enterprise-grade features including a quick charging, user-replaceable full-shift battery. The FZ-B2 is fully-rugged with a sealed design which makes it the perfect work companion for all bussiness professionals working in extreme and rugged conditions. The thin and lightweight Toughpad FZ-B2 is built for long-lasting durability with world-class tough performance, connectivity, long battery life and advanced technology.    
Learn more about the Panasonic Toughpad FZ-B2…






The Best Rugged Computers for Business Travelers!

Business travelers depend on mobile devices to stay connected and productive when they are on the go. Learn more about Group Mobile’s most popular semi-rugged laptops for business travelers — the Panasonic Toughbook 54, the Getac S400, and the Durabook S15H. 

Toughbook 54   

Delivers power and rugged portability!    

The Toughbook 54 from Panasonic uses the latest advances to create a semi-rugged laptop lighter and thinner than the competition. It features a spill-resistant, full magnesium alloy design, hard drive heater, backlit keyboard, and is available in four different models to suit every need. The Toughbook 54 has a wide range of integrated options such as dedicated GPS, 4G LTE mobile broadband with satellite GPS, antenna pass-through, and insertable and contactless SmartCard readers. It also offers an optional second battery, allowing hot swap battery replacement without the need to shut down or hibernate. It offers dual drives, another feature that makes the Toughbook 54 rugged laptop one of the most versatile and advanced semi-rugged notebooks on the market. Learn more about the Panasonic Toughbook 54 semi-rugged notebook…

Getac S400  
Built to survive demanding work environments!  

The Getac S400 is one of the most durable semi-rugged notebooks on the market. It was developed specifically for utilities, public safety, field service, and military applications. It features Getac’s KryptoShell™ body which allows the rugged S400 to withstand temperature extremes, shock, vibration, and drops from up to 2.5 feet. It features a 14-inch widescreen, sunlight-readable display, a water-resistant keyboard, and a Super Multi DVD drive. Connectivity features of the S400 include 802.11ac wireless LAN, Bluetooth, and other integrated wireless options including 4G LTE and a GPS receiver and antenna. Learn more about the Getac S400 semi-rugged notebook…

Durabook S15H     
Large wide-format 15.3″ display!  

The Durabook S15H is a semi-rugged laptop with a large 15.6″ display. The S15H is designed and tested to withstand wide temperature fluctuations, vibration, and a 2.5 foot drop while continuing to work in any tough environment. It comes standard a Super-Multi DVD drive and an optional webcam. Connectivity features of the S15H include 802.11 wireless LAN, Bluetooth, and mobile broadband. The Durabook S15H rugged laptop offers the power, performance, and reliability required in today’s mobile environment. Learn more about the Durabook S15H semi-rugged notebook…

Introducing the Panasonic Toughbook SX2

Panasonic, one of the pioneers of ruggedized laptops, just released the Toughbook SX2. The Toughbook SX2 is Panasonics latest Business Rugged Laptop. The Toughbook SX2 pairs the Intel® Core i5-3320M 2.60GHz featuring vPro technology with the Windows 7 operating system for an incredible mobile computing experience. It features a 12.1″ HD+ sunlight-readable, widescreen display for easy viewing in any lighting condition. The SX2 is also equipped with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth®, a built-in webcam, and a DVD drive. Add to that 4GB DDR3 RAM, a 320GB shock-mounted hard drive, and a very impressive 14.5 hours of battery life, and you get a ruggedized notebook that lets you accomplish more than you ever expected while on the go.

The Toughbook SX2’s case is machined from Magnesium Alloy which allows for a durable, yet lighter weight case than other alloys. The SX2 features a spill-resistant keyboard and can withstand drops up to 30″.   

Watch the Panasonic Toughbook SX2 Durability Testing Video

Mobile Computing Comparison Shopping?

Did You Know You Can Compare Rugged Computers Side-By-Side?

Here, at Group Mobile, we feel it’s important for our customers to be able to make the most educated decision possible when purchasing new products. We are also aware, with such a large variety of ruggedized products on the market, that it can be overwhelming at times determining which computer fits your situation best. Group Mobile’s Rugged Computer Comparison Charts offer side-by-side specification comparisons of the brands and models we carry based on rugged rating and form factor.

Have a few you are interested in? Choose the appropriate category to view our product comparisons. We also have customer reviews, which can be helpful when choosing the computer that is best suitable for your needs. Visit the Product User Reviews page to gather more information for your next purchase.

If you have more specific questions or are not completely sure of which system works ideally with your goals, please contact one of our mobile computing specialists and they will be happy to assist you with whatever you may need.