Mobile Scanners: Should I Move to a Touchscreen Device?

With the impending Windows End of Life coming up (December 2019), many customers are exploring new handhelds. When working with customers on upgrading their legacy mobile scanners, the question often comes up: should they be using a mobile scanner with or without a keyboard?  There are pros and cons to consider when selecting the best hardware for your warehouse.   

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Pros for Touchscreens – Common, Compact, Familiar, and Rugged

Touchscreen devices are growing in popularity and the most up-and-coming style of handhelds. Common across all industries (including both field services and inside the four walls), many companies using both cloud-based and on-premise solutions have opted to go with a touchscreen device.
  • Touchscreen scanners are the most compact device, making it easier for workers to use and carry with them in the warehouse. With the industry move to Android, many customers find the bigger screen offers a better user experience. Both Telnet and web applications work great on these devices.  
  • Touchscreen handhelds offer a similar experience to consumer devices such as smartphones in the way they interface – meaning that your workforce will probably be familiar with operating them, reducing training time
  • Just because these are shaped like a consumer device, there is an important distinction. These devices are ruggedized and created to withstand drops up to 8 feet. Additionally, both Honeywell and Zebra are putting their latest and greatest technology in these devices. For most touchscreen devices (like the CT60), you get to choose the optional scan handle.

Cons for Touchscreens – No Long-Range Scanning, No Keys, No Gloves, Reported Theft

While popular, Touchscreen devices aren't without drawbacks. A common concern is that because they mimic smartphones, touchscreens have a higher chance of being stolen. Good news - you can add a lock down application that limits user access and renders the device useless if stolen to deter theft.  There are also some scenarios where Touchscreen devices may not be the best solution for your business. 
  • Touchscreen devices don’t have long range scanners due to the compact size of the scanner. If long-range scanning is a requirement, an alternative device would be needed. This is the number one reason that customers choose a traditional keyboard device.
  • If you rely heavily on function keys, a touchscreen may not be for you. Using the on-screen keyboard, as opposed to pressing a function key, might slow you down.
  • Touchscreen devices are not suitable for environments that are very cold. These devices are not equipped with the proper insulation to withstand extreme temperatures, which may lead to condensation within the screen. The touchscreen is also difficult to operate with thick gloves.

To Key or Not to Key...It's all about preference

At the end of the day, user preference is the biggest factor.  Both types of devices could be a fit, but some users just prefer a keyboard over a touchscreen. At RF-SMART, our dedicated hardware team works hard to certify the devices that we sell, guaranteeing that no matter which device you choose, you’ll have a great fit for your warehouse.

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