27 February 2024

A guide to top 5 rugged handhelds

Handpicked for Success: Discover the Top 5 Rugged Handheld Computers Revolutionising Operations in 2024

Rugged handheld computers stand out from the crowd, they are engineered for resilience and designed to withstand the toughest conditions with ease. Tougher than your average smartphone or tablet, these devices are known for their exceptional durability. They can out pace and outlast their consumer-grade counterparts, especially in demanding industrial settings such as manufacturing, warehousing and distribution. However, with so many models on the market, choosing the right device for your organisation can be overwhelming.

Our blog aims to simplify the selection process. We are excited to present our top five rugged handheld computers, complete with expert insights to guide you, so that you can choose the rugged device that best meets your unique needs.  

The Rise of Rugged Handheld Computing

The popularity of rugged handheld computers is surging across varied business sectors, thanks to their superior security, connectivity, battery life, durability, and overall user experience. These robust mobile computers have become essential in numerous industrial environments, supporting important daily operations in environments where ordinary consumer-grade devices simply don't measure up.  

Key Applications of Rugged Handheld Computing Across Industries:  



If you work in retail settings, the rugged handheld computer can enhance your efficiency by streamlining transaction processing, enabling accurate inventory barcode scanning, and ensuring pricing accuracy, thereby improving the customer experience.  

Warehouse, Transportation and Logistics:  

The application of rugged handheld computers play an indispensable role in the warehouse and logistics industries, from barcode scanning and inventory management to improving navigation and enabling digital signature capture. They provide you with real-time updates, significantly optimising the supply chain process.  

Field Services:

Field service workers rely on handheld computing for managing work orders, conducting tests, and maintaining communication with team members. Features such as lone worker monitoring and location tracking not only ensure safety and compliance but also facilitate your shift from paper-based to digital systems.   

Choosing the Right Rugged Handheld Computer: Understanding Semi-Rugged vs. Fully Rugged

At TouchStar, we specialise in offering rugged handheld computers that are tailored to varying environmental demands, with two main categories available: semi-rugged and fully rugged. Each type is built to withstand different levels of environmental challenges, ensuring you find the perfect match for your needs.

Semi-Rugged Handheld Computers

Ideal for facing low to moderate environmental hazards, our semi-rugged handheld computers or semi rugged handheld pda’s blend the core functionalities of standard commercial hardware with enhanced durability. These modifications increase resilience and maintain everyday usability, striking a perfect balance for those needing reliability without the bulkiness often associated with rugged equipment.  

Fully Rugged Handheld Computers

For situations that demand the maximum in device toughness, our line of fully rugged mobile computers stands unmatched. Designed to confront the most extreme conditions, these devices boast unparalleled resistance to drops, shocks, vibrations, as well as water and dust. If your operations encounter some of the harshest environments, a fully rugged mobile computer ensures continuous performance and reliability, no matter the challenges.  

Top 5 Rugged Handheld Computers

Small and medium-sized businesses are facing immense pressure to elevate customer service, boost productivity, and meet supply chain demands. The key to achieving these goals lies in leveraging advanced technology to enhance your mobile workforce's efficiency and improve customer interactions - all without straining the budget. Enter these top five mobile computers, designed with these exact challenges in mind.  


Fully Rugged Handheld Computers


TouchStar TS8200 – The heavy-duty mobile computing powerhouse

The TouchStar TS8200 is not just any rugged handheld computer - it's your go-to for the most demanding warehouse environments, from pallet to bulk storage. Built with durability in mind, it features a robust blend of high-impact polycarbonate plastics and Sorbothane rubber shock absorbers, all built around a sturdy metal alloy chassis. Its ergonomic design and hard-capped keys are tailored for resilience.    

But that's not all, the TS8200 doesn't just survive harsh environments - it thrives in them. Its dynamic data collection is powered by a high-resolution speed laser scanner and advanced imaging technology, making no scan too close or too far. And with a hot-swappable battery, operations stay up and running, ensuring continuous productivity and efficiency.  

What about visibility and documentation? The TS8200 has you covered. Its rugged touchscreen provides clear visibility under any lighting condition, while the high-performance 5M pixel camera captures everything in stunning detail, boosting productivity and efficiency across all supply chain scenarios.  

The TS8200 stands out as a cost-effective choice, backed by direct support from its UK-based manufacturer for seamless integration and minimal downtime. In short, it's a game-changer for those seeking reliability, durability, and efficiency in one powerful package.  

Zebra MC3300-The compact powerhouse for your business needs

Looking for a compact, lightweight solution that doesn't compromise on ruggedness? The Zebra MC3300 is your perfect match. This device is a trusted workhorse in both rugged and semi-rugged environments. It offers a versatile range of scanning options (barcode, imager, RFID) and allows operators to keep the workflow moving smoothly.  

Designed for efficiency and durability, the MC3300 offers a wide spectrum of choices to fit your operational needs. Whether it's for a warehouse, manufacturing site, or retail space, you can select from four distinct form factors, four scanning engines, and three levels of functionality to find your perfect operational fit.  

Whether you're dealing with barcodes that are up close or at a distance, pristine or well-worn, the MC3300's advanced scanning technology captures them all with ease. Need to capture high-resolution images, then opt for the 13MP rear camera to expand its utility. With the horsepower to run any application and top-notch wireless communication, including fast roaming, the MC3300 ensures that your operations are as efficient as they are reliable.  

With a high drop specification of 5 ft./1.5 m, a robust Corning® Gorilla® Glass touch panel, and a generous 4-inch display, the MC3300 is built to perform under pressure and ensure your productivity never skips a beat.  


Rugged/Semi Rugged Handheld PDA’s


Zebra TC22 - Redefining durability with advanced technology

Designed with durability and reliability at its core, the TC22 reimagines what a rugged handheld computer can be. Its sleek smartphone design, combined with a competitive price point, sets it apart from consumer phones, offering powerful features that elevate worker productivity to new heights.   

The TC22 ingeniously integrates a suite of advanced features into its streamlined design. Its high-definition 6-inch FHD+ display, combined with cutting-edge 5G and Wi-Fi 6E connectivity, ensures seamless operation. The device also includes integrated scanners guaranteeing top-notch performance across the board. With its faster, next-generation processor and industry-leading memory, the TC22 ensures applications run smoothly and efficiently, while the Android 16 operating system ensures your device is future proofed.  

Durability is where the TC22 truly excels. Engineered to thrive in the most challenging conditions, it is waterproof, dust-proof, drop-proof, and tumble-proof. The device not only meets, but exceeds, the demanding IP68 sealing standards and the rigorous MIL-STD 810 H and IEC industry benchmarks.  

Zebra TC57 Rugged Mobile Computer - Smart, tough & ready for anything!

At first glance, the TC57 might remind you of your typical smartphone, but don't let its sleek design fool you. This rugged handheld computer is built for the industrial battlefield. It stands out from the crowd blending the intuitive ease of Android with unbeatable performance.  

Imagine capturing barcodes faultlessly on the first try, accessing faster and more reliable Wi-Fi, streaming videos without a hitch, sending secure messages, and utilising the most advanced voice solutions available. That's the TC57 experience. We're talking maximum computing power for today's applications and whatever tomorrow throws your way. Expect exceptional support for tracking locations, steadier Wi-Fi connections, crystal-clear voice communications, and colour cameras that capture everything in ultra-high resolution. Whether it's for photos or gathering video intelligence, the TC57 delivers.  

Drop it in water or onto concrete, use it in rain, snow, or in dusty conditions - the TC57 can take it. It even has a sealed the battery compartment to boost reliability. Plus, with Corning® Gorilla® Glass safeguarding the touch panel and scanner window, you won't have to worry about scratches or shattering.  

With the TC57, you're getting a pocket powerhouse engineered to bring the best of mobile computing right to your fingertips - wherever work may take you.  

Honeywell EDA 51 Mobile Computer – rugged, sleek and cost effective

For businesses aiming to ramp up productivity in light-duty retail, direct store delivery (DSD), pickup and delivery services, and field applications, the EDA51 is a game-changer. The EDA51 is not the most robust in our line-up, it is perfectly designed for light-duty applications spanning retail to proof of delivery and combined with its exceptional cost-effectiveness it is certainly a recommended choice. Its standout feature is the enduring battery life, ideal for shift workers who need reliable performance throughout their day. This model strikes an optimal balance with integrated scanning capabilities, a powerful processor, an intuitive touchscreen interface, and solid connectivity, all within a rugged yet sleek design suited for the ergonomics of on-the-go use.  

Its high-performance scanner quickly captures data from even the most damaged barcodes, while the 13-megapixel auto-focus colour camera simplifies workflow documentation. Coupled with a durable lithium-ion battery that supports over 12 hours of continuous use, this device allows your team to stay operational the entire shift. And it does all this at a cost-effective price.  

Transform Your Operations with the Ideal Rugged Handheld Computer

Selecting the right rugged handheld computer is more than just a purchase decision. It's a strategic one that shapes your operations, enhances safety and optimises your financial bottom line. With the right rugged mobile computer, you'll unlock efficiency, enjoy a lower total cost of ownership, and relish the confidence that comes from a solution tailored to your operational needs.  

However, it's essential to choose wisely and that’s where seeking expert advice is a smart strategy. If you are ready to revolutionise your rugged mobile computing, we are here to help.  

The TouchStar team is here to guide and help you select the perfect device. We're committed to supporting you through configuration, deployment, and beyond. From your initial consultation, through to purchase, deployment and post-sales assistance, our mission is to match you to the right rugged handheld computer for your business.  

But we don't stop there. Our UK-based support team is dedicated to your ongoing success, offering comprehensive programs that cover accidental damage and provide on-site troubleshooting for the lifespan of your system.  

Take the First Step Today

Receive the rugged support your business deserves. Contact TouchStar for a consultation and take the first steps towards efficiency, reliability and unmatched technical support.

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