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Looking at tablet computers in a new way

TAGS: Business
Jevtic/Getty Images man with tablet in corn field
GETTING RUGGED: Images of farmers in the field with tablets are fine, if the product can hold up. Companies are working to fill the demand for ruggedized tablets that can stand up to real farm conditions.
Hand-held computers offer easy access to information, but can they take the abuse?

A walk around the recent InfoAg event offered a visitor a view of a lot of technology. An observer might also note that presence of a lot of screens. Whether you’re flying an unmanned aerial vehicle or capturing information from a planter, eventually you’ll want to look at it on a screen. The challenge is that farming can be tough on equipment. Yet there are companies offering tablets and monitor screens built to take the rigors of agriculture.

“We’ve designed our products to survive in harsh environments,” says Glenn Lundgren, business development executive, JLT Computers.

Lundgren works in the ag and forestry markets to match the company’s severe service systems to user needs. At InfoAg, Lundgren was working to reach out to companies and suppliers that might one day sell to farmers — but JLT also sells tablets direct, too.

“We have in-cab products and mobility products,” he explains. “Our in-cab product is designed to be mounted permanently in the cab of a machine, or at a feeding station.” The mobility product is designed for more traditional tablet use. It can also be mounted in a cab but removed to be used as a tablet.

Made in Sweden, the JLT line is built to take abuse with designs for cases and screens that can handle snow, dust, high humidity and high temperature applications.

Farmers and tablets
The go-to tablet for many farmers is the iPad. It’s easy to pick one up at your favorite electronics retailer and hit the field. Yet the iPad is far from a rugged service device, and it’s prone to being broken. The same goes for any Android tablet you might buy at the local store.

A ruggedized tablet, which will have a higher cost, should have a lower replacement rate. Due to software limits, the JLT tablet does not use iOS, so it cannot use Apple apps. “We have standardized on Windows and the Android operating systems,” he says. “We have an open architecture design.”

That’s popular for developers like European tillage maker Steketee, which uses a JLT monitor for a tillage system that “sees” weeds as it moves through the field to better manage cultivation.

For farmers, that standard operating system works for most any tech company system. While apps are great, the use of streamlined web designs means an Android or Windows tablet can see information easily over the web. Most systems are mobile-compliant in their designs, whether you’re looking at data from The Climate Corporation or field records from the John Deere Operations Center — they would work on the Windows or Android device.

Web-enabled tablets are great, but Lundgren notes that JLT tablets are computers, too. “You don’t have to be connected to the cloud to have access to data,” he says. “We have tablets that allow you to save data and send it later when connected, or have data available in the field. These are true computers.”

The shape of computers has been changing with the advent of the tablet and later the convertible computer. JLT, and others, are looking at the market for tougher machines and offering new options.

You can learn more about what JLT has to offer at To learn more about other ruggedized tablet options, search “ruggedized tablets” on your favorite search engine.



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