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A surprising lack of clarity in ruggedized mobile device display information

Rugged device manufacturers are facing increased competition from their consumer-grade counterparts. Much of their competitive edge and differentiation stems from their quantifiably better durability and a broader spectrum of user environments. However, rugged OEMs have encountered difficulties in overcoming the perception that their devices are overpriced for the value that they offer. Given the situation, manufacturers are hindering their differentiation through a lack of clarity in regards to display information which makes it difficult to quantify and compare devices across a given form factor.  There is a definite need for a more uniform and comprehensive approach in providing information to enterprise decision makers, especially when compared to other criteria for ruggedized devices.

A glaring omission of contrast and daylight readability standards

What comes as a particular surprise is the lack of uniformity for display information among spec sheets for ruggedized devices across all form factors. End-users frequently cite daylight-readability as being highly important in line-of-business applications and as a major shortcoming among many existing devices.  And yet, the information provided by most manufacturers is hazy at best when describing daylight readability. Frequently, there is no quantification involved, despite the fact that there is in fact a military standard for contrast and daylight readability (MIL-STD-3009, which is defined as a contrast ratio greater than 3.0:1 in daylight conditions) that is not unlike the standards that exists for environmental specifications (like that of the IEC’s IP rating or the vibration/shock ratings for MIL-STD-810F/G).  If the notion of calling a device dust- or waterproof without listing the IP rating seems laughable, should that also be the case for a device deemed “daylight readable”? And yet, VDC found that a minority of manufacturers listed even the contrast ratio, while even fewer still featured the MIL-STD-3009 standard with their display information.

Nit-picking luminance information

Another area that is woefully underrepresented is luminance, or screen brightness. This is another element that can affect daylight readability, although frequently at a greater cost to battery life. Here, too, manufacturers tend to gloss over the information (VDC research revealed that only one in five devices listed luminance information). Even when the information is provided, there is a lack of uniformity in the units used between cd/m2 and NIT, which are technically the same. Worse still are the manufacturers who list the display’s brightness as having “high brightness” or being “super bright” on actual spec sheets without any actual quantification.

OEMs need to clarify their value proposition

This lack of specificity and overall uniformity in spec sheets for ruggedized devices is particularly surprising when one considers how central a display is in the overall user experience of a mobile device. VDC research reveals that outdoor readability remains a highly important criterion for frontline employees, especially in manufacturing and field mobility. By obfuscating the information of such a critical component, manufacturers are not expressing a strong facet of competitive differentiation from consumer-grade devices to decision makers who are looking to invest in mobile devices. VDC believes that while there will always be a need for specialized ruggedized devices, OEMs can help to minimize the encroachment of consumer-grade devices by making their value proposition as clearly as possible. 


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