Field Hardware suggestions

01-20-2017 07:07 AM
Occasional Contributor II

I am deploying GIS to our field workers using ArcGIS Online and mobile apps like collector, survey123, etc.  We are at the phase where we need to choose which hardware we will use.  In past projects I have used iPads successfully.  We are currently looking at both the iPad Air2 and the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 as options.  Some of our basic requirement are:

  • ~9.7" in size
  • Have LTE Cellular capability built in
  • 64 GB of storage or more
  • Have rugged (i.e. Otter Box Defender) case available
  • Be purchasable through main stream channels (we are a local government agency)

Any suggestions or tips would be appreciated.

#Mobile #Hardware

Chris McClain

Lakewood MUA

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2 Replies
Regular Contributor

We have had great success with iPad Air devices in Lifeproof cases.  I have quite a few iPad 4 units in cases that are still going strong after 4 years of rugged field use.  The screens get a little scratched up after lots of time in the woods and being tossed around on stream banks, but it doesn't really affect the usability.

We also purchase AppleCare for all our units - it doesn't matter what kind of case you have if the field crews leave the device on the roof of their truck when they take off down the highway!

MVP Honored Contributor

Samsung/Android all the way.

I ran 175 Samsung Tab As and Tab 2s (the old ones not the S2) for 4 years.  We only had 3 break and only one of those was non people related (bad GPS that was fixed under warranty).  I was getting them on Amazon for $170 8 inch and $230 9.7 inch.  That is a very reliable piece or hardware for the price! 

In fact at that price we stopped getting Otter boxes.  The plastic screen is terrible in the sun and the case cost almost as much as the tablet.  (A Ziploc bag worked better.)  If it breaks just toss them and get a new one.  f we got anything it was a child type rubber surround and a tempered glass screen cover for about $10 each (glass vs plastic is highly recommended).

We could get new ones more often since to get a iPad with as much space would be like 3X cost.

SD card.  When you start making tpks it is critical.  I had over 70GB of tpks working perfectly.  Could carry 17 million acres of imagery and 300+ SDE FCs on a $23 card.

Getting files on and off the tablet/card is so much easier.  Plus our IT dept said no way to ITunes.

Other apps.  So many apps that cost $ on Apple are free for Android.

If you really need rugged check out the new Samsung Active 2.  It is fully rugged from the start.  Even has a pen that will write in the rain.  Not much more $ than a regular with a case.

I am surprised you want LTE.  We had wifi only for years and it was fine.  Esp since the vast majority of our field work had no signal at all.  With wifi all over and offline options make sure it is realty worth all the cost.  Esp when someone decides to take a entire state offline and blows up your data plan.  My new job they have lots of success with a Verizon hotspot.  They have a few at the office that people can check out for use when they need it.  One will cover an entire crew vs paying for each member to have it.  Plus it works for any wifi device.

I understand my work required a lot more offline than most so some of this may not apply.

It is a good idea to get one of each and test them out before committing.

Hope that helps.