Technology

Selecting the Best Tablet for the Engine Room

14 March 2022By Sam Wheaton
Courtesy of Seahub

The use of tablets and mobile devices have opened up a whole new world of remote-control options, access to information, and capturing data in the form of photos, notes, and observations of engineers on board.

An engineer’s private device will often double up as a work device — this represents a missed opportunity. By relying on personal devices, the boat is missing out on the chance to capture important information. By equipping this person with a boat-issued device aimed at specifically capturing all vessel-related information, the boat benefits in the long run. Therefore, the knowledge from every picture, email, downloaded document, observation, and note remains with the vessel.

Pull a brand-new shiny tablet out of the box and you’ll see that the glass makes up about 50 percent of the surface area of the device. Without any protection, you’re one decent drop away from having your day ruined.

“Ruggedized” is a term frequently thrown around in the device world but for a device to be truly rugged, it must pass tests ensuring it can withstand drops, vibrations, crashes, extreme temperatures, differing altitudes, and natural elements such as wind, rain, sand, humidity, and dust. The route to a rugged device can be via the device or ruggedized-case option.

On the device front, we reviewed three of the more popular options currently available on today’s market. The Samsung Galaxy Tab Active Pro is a great option for those comfortable with Android devices. It has a high dust/water-resistance rating and a replaceable battery.

With a boat-issued device aimed at specifically capturing all vessel-related information, the boat benefits in the long run. The knowledge from every picture, email, downloaded document, observation, and note remains with the vessel.

The Panasonic Toughbook A3 is another Android device, 10.1-inch display with a dedicated mode when it senses rain or the user is wearing gloves — a great feature for engineers.

A common trend in the tablet space is the movement of consumer-grade devices into the ruggedized-device scene, often driven by user preferences and usability. A prime example of this is Apple’s iPad — these devices make up one in every three tablet devices currently in circulation. iPads are frequently seen throughout yachts as remote controls and organizational tools. For engineers, these devices can become an integral part of planning and documenting maintenance on board.

For iPad enthusiasts, the UAG Metropolis Series Case rates towards the top of the list every year. It is made of composite material with a solid tactile grip to protect against drops. If it does happen to land in a bilge, the chances of damage are small since the case comes with certification for military drop-test standards.

By using the right grade device in the engine room, engineers need not worry about the repercussions of destroyed devices. Lost data, replacement expenses, and accessibility of replacements are largely eliminated through the use of ruggedized devices and cases.

This article originally ran in the September 2021 issue of Dockwalk.

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