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.

What to Shop for When Selecting a New Mobile Technology Solution

When you invest in technology to improve your business, you must be confident the investment will pay off in the end.

The public safety sector is on the forefront of real-time data use. The value of real-time data is almost immeasurable as having access to true, real-time data can save lives. Given this, the

The ideal best practice for every organization is to pilot a technology before procurement, but this is not always feasible and many budgets don’t allow for trial and error testing.

Talk to other agencies

How do you know what to shop for when selecting a new mobile technology solution? Group Mobile suggests choosing a mobile device that has the right feature set for your needs or will be able to fulfill all of your agency’s operational requirements in a single device. There is no reason to procure a device that falls short of your agency’s needs. Also, finding a solutions integrator who fully understands all elements of your organization from pre-deployment, deployment and post-deployment professional services. 

When it comes to mobile technology deployments, Group Mobile knows the road. Many mid-size cities, towns and counties have similar workflows and, therefore, similar mobile device requirements.

Before buying, do your research and talk with other agencies that mirror yours. Set up a call with them or meet with them in person to understand the lessons they’ve learned in their mobile journey. You’ll find that agencies are always willing to help another agency and give you an honest assessment.

What to look for

This portfolio list of options will help you focus your requirements and conduct a full analysis of your own current technology portfolio to make early decisions regarding:

  • Operating system preference: The applications you choose will drive your OS decision. Most public safety agencies choose to run Windows for compatibility and security. Though there are new applications arriving on the Android platform today that may benefit some organizations. Fortunately, fully rugged Android tablets are now available.
  • Mobile data and mobile device security: This may include VPN access, multi-factor authentication, fingerprint readers, Common Access Card (CAC) readers, TPM, Kensington physical locks and other internal and external measures.
  • Data entry tools: Do you need the flexibility of keyboard and touch for data entry? Do you need a digitizer pen (which is much more accurate than a stylus)?
  • Size and weight: Do you prefer a larger 10-12” screen for easy, full-page viewing of documents and apps? Or can you make do with a 5” screen? Can your techs juggle a 5+ pound notebook and patient care in the field? Or do they need a more lightweight 2-4-pound solution?
  • Wired and wireless connectivity: How many I/O ports do you need? Which I/O ports do you need? Will your teams have access to Wi-Fi hotspots all the time, or do they need multiple wireless network and ancillary device connectivity options such as 4G LTE, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, IP, Gobi 3000
  • Rugged requirements: Which MIl-STD-810G and Ingress Protection (IP) rating levels are enough – and how much is too much? It depends on how often your mobile device will be exposed to water, dust, humidity, or corrosive elements, for example, and how prevalent shock or vibration will be in the vehicle. Will the device be used in potentially explosive environments? Make sure it’s also ATEX or C1D2/C1Z2 compliant for Hazardous Locations.

Impediments to true public safety mobility – inappropriate form-factors, fragile devices, heavy notebooks, weak data radios, limited mobile workflow software – are a thing of the past. The decision to go mobile today is just that – a decision to go mobile. Real-time information, streamlined reporting and constant communication make your service to the community faster, better and safer.

Make smart, near-term buys to lay a foundation for a full mobility solution with long-term return on investment. That may be just a handful of rugged tablets to power a new dispatch system. But it gives you time to fine tune your solution, define next best steps, and measure ROI.

One of the most challenging elements of implementing or upgrading a technology solution is achieving the return on investment. When you invest in technology to improve your business, you must be confident the investment will pay off in the end. It is critical you reach the maximum benefits in the time frame desired for your new technology solution. Group Mobile will identify the benefits available to your company based on a return on investment mobility model, and deliver technology solutions and services to ensure a successful outcome.

Group Mobile’s team of industry experts can assist you in selecting, designing and implementing a multi-network environment for mission-critical fleets, request a free personalized quote.

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.

Understanding Rugged Mobile Computers

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 computers. We are also aware, with such a large variety of computers on the market, that it can be overwhelming at times determining which computer fits your situation best. Group Mobile’s Rugged Computer Guide will teach you about the different types of rugged computers and the features that make them different from conventional, commercial-grade computers; as well as other considerations such as vehicle docking and mounting, integrated wireless and cellular broadband, GPS, cameras, bar code scanners, backlit keyboards and other capabilities that are often mandatory in mobile or outdoor computing.

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. 

If you have more specific questions or are not completely sure of which rugged 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.

Considerable Discount on GD8000!

HUGE Savings on this GD8000 Fully Rugged Laptop Computing Solution!

Sale Price $2,921

(Suggested Retail Price $5,521) 

Save over $2,600!

Group Mobile’s GD8000 Mobile Computing Solution is ideal for field service and other mobile professionals that need a laptop and the essential accessories for working in the field and other challenging work environments. It offers both savings and convenience by bundling everything you need to stay powered-up and connected at a reduced price.


The GD8000 Mobile Computing Solution includes:   

  • General Dynamics Itronix GD8000 rugged laptop Vehicle power adapter   
  • Spare Lithium-ion battery
  • 3 Year No-Fault Max Service Warranty
The GD8000 is designed for the toughest user and tested to meet, and even exceed military standards. It is powered by the Intel® low-voltage Core™ 2 Duo processing architecture and features a 160GB shock-mounted hard drive with a heater, 1GB DDR3 RAM, and a 13.3-inch DynaVue® display with touchscreen for excellent viewability in all lighting conditions. This configuration has impressive communications capabilities including Bluetooth and GPS. Read More

The GD8000 Mobile Computing Solution is specially priced and available for immediate shipment. Other configurations are also available.

Don’t miss out on this substantial discount! 

For more information regarding rugged mobile computing visit www.groupmobile.com or call us at 1-866-RUGGED-8.

Do Rugged Computers Cost More or Less?

On a fairly frequent basis, Group Mobile provides a price quotation to a prospective customer on a ruggedized computer…and when we follow-up the prospect says something like, “Well, the decision was made to buy commercial computers since the ruggedized computers were higher in price. We felt like we could save quite a bit of money and if the plastic computers break, we can just buy new ones and we would still save money over buying ruggedized equipment.”

Then invariably, a few weeks or months later, the same person calls back and says something like, “I guess we are ready for those ruggedized computers now. We tried the commercial plastic computers and they were failing every couple of weeks. Our guys were ‘down’ and without their computers for days at a time. It was costing us a fortune in lost productivity, not to mention the hassle of losing data and having to constantly re-load our software on the repaired computers.”

So why does this scenario repeat itself over and over again? We can only blame ourselves…the people who are involved in manufacturing and selling rugged, mobile computers. We have not done a great job of educating people about the necessity of ruggedization when using a computer in a vehicle, in a factory, in a warehouse, in a service bay, or out in the field. Construction companies, utility departments, service, repair, inspection, delivery companies, police departments, etc, think nothing about spending thousands of dollars for the equipment specialized for their job or their business, but balk when it comes to buying specialized computers. They are just not fully aware that commercial grade computers are not designed for vehicle, warehouse or field use.
We all know that there is a difference in price and cost. The price is what you pay up front for an item. The cost is what you spend over the course of the life of the item. Rugged computers are priced higher but cost less. The primary reasons for this are less down time, less lost data, fewer repair costs and increased worker productivity. Obviously, this is only true when said computers are to be used in or on a vehicle, in a dusty dirty environment, in a hot or cold environment, outdoors, or on-site.

In every job there is a right and a wrong tool for the job. Commercial portable computers are perfect for indoor, white-collar, taking home at night, or flying on a business trip. Rugged mobile computers are the right tools for those with jobs in demanding environments. Rugged computers actually cost less! Read More…
 

Helpful Tools at www.groupmobile.com

There are a number of tools on our website designed to help you find what you need. Click the links below to check them out. And don’t forget, you can always Contact Us directly if you would like one of our Rugged Computer Specialists to offer their expertise in finding the solution that’s right for you!

For more information regarding rugged mobile computing visit www.groupmobile.com or call us at 1-866-RUGGED-8.