Enterprise Mobile Applications Screen Size and Keyboard
The complexity and nature of a mobile application can often dictate the physical size and type of the mobile device you buy. The enterprise mobile applications screen size and keyboard input method is an important element of your total cost of ownership calculations
Consider the environment the device will be used in. What is the likelihood a device is accidentally knocked or dropped? A rugged device will long out last a Smartphone if it is dropped more than once. Will the device be used indoor or outdoor? The perceived brightness of a screen can change from device to device and a high brightness screen will make outdoor readability much clearer. Other environment factors include if the user will be wearing gloves in which case a stylus or keyboard may be required.
Keyboards are an important choice frequently over looked if the mobile application requires any text input. A Smartphone onscreen keyboard is usually touch only and they can sometimes be very fiddly. Touch only is no good if the operator has dirty fingers or wears gloves. The next step up is a stylus on a PDA. The on screen ‘soft’ keyboard can be a bit difficult to use due to it’s small size. Rugged PDAs like the Motorola MC65 or Handheld Nautiz X3 come as standard with either a QWERTY or numeric keyboard. These are quick and easy to use. If the application only requires numerical input this numerical keyboard will save valuable time from switching to alpha characters.
Moving towards a full keyboard the on screen “soft” keyboard on our own T7000 Windows 7 Tablet is both quick and easy to use with finger or stylus, and also comes with a handy numeric keyboard built in. Other options at the full size keyboard level are to use a snap-on keyboard, connect a USB keyboard or consider a rugged laptop like the Handheld XRW with full size keyboard.
Another high priority is the screen size. A tablet screen of 7” will be able to display much more than a 2.8” Smartphone or PDA or rugged handheld screen. The application experience is enhanced by having more information on screen at any one time and fewer screens means quicker app completion. Other advantages also include the ability to increase text size for poor sighted users and display full screen images, PDFs and documents. But putting this is a pocket may be difficult hence the continuing attraction of phone size devices. Although a few years old this is still a great guide.
If additional requirements include the use of other software such as MS Office, mapping software service manuals PDF guides then a larger screen would be paramount.
The key question is: How the application will look and feel to the mobile worker should put screen and keyboard considerations at the top of your list of hardware requirements?
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