The temptation to use consumer-grade tablets in business applications is a practice that really started to gain traction as the cost of these devices plummeted. They get used in many customer-facing applications such as point-of-sale displays and make-shift kiosks, check-in applications at the doctor’s office and now even some POS/Checkout systems are designed around consumer-grade tablets. The mentality behind buying these devices is, of course, “why not buy something cheap and if it breaks, just replace it”. But when it fails sooner rather than later, the out-of-service inconvenience to the user, the cost to buy a new device, and the time and resources required to replace the old one… all adds up. If we put a dollar figure on these variables it’s safe to say that buying a built-for-purpose, commercial or industrial-grade device is cheaper and far less trouble in the long run.
The problem is there’s a little “time bomb” lurking inside these consumer-grade devices that few people ever think about. Heat. Yep. Hot air. Consumer-grade devices are designed for intermittent use. They are designed to be used for a few minutes or a couple of hours, then we turn them off or they go to sleep. While in use, the display is on and the processor is continuously whirring away and generating heat.
“The problem is there’s a little ‘time bomb’ lurking inside these consumer-grade devices that few people ever think about.”
When the device is off, the heat dissipates. These tablets don’t have any kind of thermal management plan other than turning them off. One reason consumer-grade devices can be so cheap is because the components have lower temperature ratings and aren’t designed to run at elevated temperatures over long periods of times. Cheap components result in cheap tablets. If that tablet is put into an application where it is left on all day, every day, or even several hours a day, it’s only a matter of time before the heat takes its toll, and the tablet fails. In the trash it goes.
“The mortality rate of consumer-grade tablets increases as these devices are pressed to do more than what they were designed to accomplish.”
Tablets that are designed for commercial applications use components with industrial temperature ratings. In some cases, components designed for industrial applications might have temperature ratings as much as 50°F higher than the components used in consumer-grade tablets. In addition, industrial-grade components are designed to be “always on” in order to operate indefinitely. These built-for-purpose industrial-grade devices will cost more, in some cases significantly more, but they will typically outlast two, three or maybe four consumer-grade tablets. The mortality rate of consumer-grade tablets increases as these devices are pressed to do more than what they were designed to accomplish. Investing in cheap tablets may be a hot idea, but they are quick to flame out.