Trying to determine the right handheld computer for your warehouse workers?  Here are some questions you may want to ask.

How rugged does the handheld computer need to be?
Warehouses have dust, dirt, water, and concrete floors.  For this reason, devices are given an IP rating, or International Protection Rating.  IP ratings classify the degree of protection against the intrusion of solid objects, dust, and water in the casing or enclosure. In addition to an IP rating, handheld computers are tested for shock and vibration protection, as well as drop survival onto concrete or steel surfaces.  Based on your warehouse conditions and how the device will be used, select a device that has the right IP and drop ratings.
Warehouse handheld computerDoes the handheld computer need to withstand a certain temperature?
If you work in extreme temperatures, you’ll need to consider whether or not your computer will operate properly.  Extreme temperatures will have an effect on the battery life of a unit, the unit’s screen & housing, and the operating system of the unit.  Use of the unit in cold storage or outside in cold conditions can cause condensation issues to occur.  Long term, this condensation can cause internal components to corrode and ultimately to fail.  If this is the case, select a unit that is designed for cold conditions and will prevent condensation from occurring.
Does your application require barcode scanning?
Barcodes are most commonly one-dimensional (1D) or two-dimensional (2D), with different resolutions.  If you are using 2D barcodes, make sure that the scanner can read 2D barcodes.  You may also have the need to read barcodes at a distance – perhaps the top shelf of a storage rack.  There are several types of barcode scanners including laser, linear imager, area imager, and long-range.  Make sure you specify the right type of scanner for your needs.
Which type of keypad configuration will work best for your needs?
Depending on how your users are interfacing to your warehouse application, you need to consider what information needs to be typed in (numeric or alphanumeric) and how much.  Will the end users have gloves on while typing?  There are several varieties of keypads available, including numeric to alphanumeric, and keys can include special function or programmable keys.
What is the operation system of the handheld computer?
Handheld computers come with either a version of Windows Mobile or a scaled down version of windows called Windows CE.  You need to check with the provider of your warehouse software to ensure that the computer will work with both the type of operation system and the version.  Handheld computers can also come preloaded with terminal emulation or with browser capability, should your application not be running on the handheld computer.
What type of screen brightness and contrast do you need?
Consider the lighting conditions the handheld unit will be used in.  Will it be used in bright sunlight or in dimly lit conditions?  Screens come in a variety of options based on brightness and contrast.  You may want to ask your solution provider to demonstrate the unit are considering in the actual conditions you will be using the unit to ensure that it performs to your expectations.
Is your seller knowledgeable and reputable?
Purchase your handheld computer from a knowledgeable provider who offers excellent customer support, shipping, and warranty options.  The sales staff should be able to guide you through the process and help you select a unit that will meet your needs and budget.  Remember, buying the wrong product can end up costing you more in service and downtime than the original price of the handheld computer!

Any questions?