The tendency for businesses to deploy tablet computers designed for use by consumers has left many paying a price in terms of repair costs and and unreliability, Panasonic has claimed after carrying out a survey of UK workers.

According to the Japanese firm’s questioning of 500 tablet-using employees, just under half had suffered a failure of this kind of device in the previous two years, with an average of three issues per tablet for those experiencing problems. Replacing or repairing a tablet took an average of two weeks.

Twenty-nine percent of failures were caused by high or low temperatures, while 21 percent cited physical causes such as a tablet being dropped, and 17 percent said they'd spilled drinks on them. Ten percent admitted seeing them run over by vehicles.

Forty-one percent said that the tablet had “just stopped working,” with battery, touchscreen and breakage problems the most likely symptoms. Over two thirds of those questioned believed that tablets were less resilient than other types of computing device.

“British businesses are currently paying a very high price for the convenience of using tablets in the workplace, including expensive total cost of ownership and costly worker downtime,” said Panasonic marketing director, Jan Kaempfer.

“Businesses must pay much more attention to the types of device most suitable for their mobile workers and the requirements they have for the device,” he said. Firms should consider the conditions that the tablet would be used in, especially if that was out of doors.

Panasonic sells a range of ruggedised Toughpad tablets running Android and Windows which are undoubtedly better suited to outdoor use than a mainstream Android or Apple equivalent. They are also many times their price and don’t always run the latest versions of their operating systems which might or might not be an issue for some organisations.

Alternatively, businesses should look at support contracts, preferably buying 5-year support contracts that come with one-week repair guarantees, Panasonic said.

The other possibility is that enterprises allow employees users to bring their own tablets (BYOT) and assume that the repair costs will not be a business responsibility.

In September Panasonic announced the Toughpad 4K UT-MB5, which features a by tablet standards vast 20-inch screen using the latest 4K Ultra High-Definition technology. The quoted price for this extraordinary if very niche device was €4,500 (about $6,000).

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