Its funny how the consumer mobile market changes the mindset of professional / industrial users. The iPad seems to have renewed an interest in tablet PCs for industrial and enterprise mobility use. Has anyone else seen this trend?
Any plans for a Psion tablet in the future? One that can be used indoor and outdoor (IP65-67) but doesn't weigh too much. Would be a nice addition to the current product portfolio?
Tablet, like many things, is an active discussion. The truth is great tablets have been around for a decade but not until the iPad have they come 'above the line' for broad awareness.
Assuming we launched a IP65 solution (IP67 might be pretty beefy), what % of your general business would you see as a tablet form factor in 1-2 years?
Systems Engineering have been evaluating a number of tablets, and have more on the list. You can read our blogs here:
and you can follow us on twitter using #psionSysEngEval
If Psion were to create a tablet what features would you like to see other than a decent IP rating as you have already mentioned?
Hi Mike, Adrian,
I don't think tablet business would ever creep above 3-5% of our general business. I suppose this all depends on how popular the tablet market becomes in the coming years. But let me explain my experience of late.
Due to consumer products like the iPad, when I bring an Itronix or Xplore tablet to a customer I always get the same reaction now, which is, this is heavy and expensive. The discussion naturally steers towards ruggedness and investment over 4-5 years. But its still a difficult gap for customers to bridge mentally. In one particular case a customer actually bought iPads for a QC operation claiming he could break an iPad 3 times over before he'd equal the cost of an Xplore or Itronix tablet. Lets see how many he buys in 3 years time. ;-)
So naturally I've started to research other tablet options. There is lots of choice and most rugged tablets tend to hover around IP54 but they are big and bulky and, thanks to the iPad, perceived to be heavy. One particular manufacturer has an entire line of tablets that seem to span lots of criteria, http://www.quaduro.com.
I've started this thread as it is so apparent Psion is missing a tablet option. So what features would I like to see? This is difficult to answer as adding features means adding expense. Perhaps two devices are required? One that is small, slim, lightweight, semi-rugged (IP54) with WiFi and HSDPA. Another that is IP65 and IP67 and as slim and lightweight as possible. Both should have all the features you would expect these days such as multi-touch and decent OS options, for example.
As I type this I'm starting to think are we all missing a trick here? A tablet is a full screen VMT unit without the forklift truck, right? Why not maximize your R&D dollars by incorporating VMT and tablet research? Why can't modularity allow both devices to become one? Imagine a modular VMT that allows the tablet to break away from the forklift truck? Or the other way round, a tablet that can become a VMT once the VMT components (brackets, power supply, external keypad) are purchased! This would have been a no brainer for my customer using iPads! He also uses a lot of 8515s!
Suddenly port customers would have a VMT and tablet solution for outdoor use in one device! And my % of tablet business would increase. :-) And that's just the beginning............
The tablet form factor might be interesting to some niche markets such as ports. LXE’s MX3 handheld has been vey succesfull in ports due to its form factor. I know that the MX3 is not a tablet but a tablet could compete well with the MX3. Also software companies like Cargotec (formar Navis) like the MX3 and one Navis guy once told me (this is a quote) “Psion does not have anything that is able to compete with it”. When the 8515 was on the drawing board I suggested to have a version with battery that could “break away” from the truck. At that time it did not happen – I guess for various design constraints. But maybe for a future product we can think about that option again, certainly now that we have a very modular platform.
Great feedback - thanks!
It would be pretty cool if the tablet/VMT could be snapped into/out of a vehicle cradle to become mobile when required - if we included an (Optional) small data capture device (Scanner/imager/RFID etc.) would that address even more use cases?
The idea of a dual functionality for a VMT is striking especially today when it is within reach. Here is a funny video that my boss showed us http://tinyurl.com/2cqjwls..
What if we did something like has a less rugged tablet that one would carry around and then when you get into your vehicle and "docked" the tablet the "docking mechanism" would provide the ruggedness requried for a VMC enviornment?
Rugged Tablets have been makeing their way into ports as a Vehicle mounted solution, especially where a full Windows OS is needed. Rugged tablets offfer a great outdoor display and a built in backup battery. I have been sugesting that we combine our Windows OS VMU offering with a tablet for a while.
@Adrian - I would tend to keep it simple. For me, the most important thing is make an excellent light weight tablet first and the VMT should follow based on that. In my experience most tablet users are line managers or quality control people. They just need a light weight screen to aid decision making on the go. They are not necessarily data capture users.
I would imagine, keeping the modularity theme alive and kicking, that the tablet should have a connector interface on the side (much like the connector pins under a 7535), which allows modules to be snapped onto the tablet. Such as RFID, card strip reader, biometrics etc. I would leave the data capture piece as a separate module. This leaves the playing field wide open for partners to develop custom modules also. That same connector should be the connector that docks the tablet to the VMT bracket which in turn charges the unit. The VMT bracket should have all the ports you would need such as RS-232, JB5 etc.
I think this leaves a nice wide berth for everyone to be happy. I'd imagine the tablet should have;
- a great screen with multi touch capabilities. It should work well with gloves.
- a sub zero rating but maybe that's unnecessary.
- 802.11, Bluetooth and HSPDA as standard.
- universal connector as mentioned above.
- possibly USB ports with USB charging?
- choice of OS?
If the above can be achieved for a tablet then I think Psion are onto a winner. Leaving the data capture modules separate means the tablet is not trying to be all things to all people, 'out of the box' but allows customers to have options further down the road.
@Andrew - Yes, when we did Netpad the scan engine ended up driving the form factor (The thickness of the device anyway).
ah the Netpad.....I've about 8 of them here. They make great coffee coasters. :-) Great product, way ahead of its time but.........it didn't solve any problems....
Just to add to this... I was at a Toronto Raptors game the other night (insert joke here), and we had in-seat service where we were sitting. The waiter was using a tablet computer to take orders and then would come with our orders using the tablet as a tray. I thought it was a pretty cool application of a rugged tablet.
Have you seen Panasonic's Toughbook Tablet with Android ?