Healthcare technician using a Zebra ET45 HC tablet to check machinery

Best Tablets for Business: Which Models Are Right for Your Sector?

As many as three-quarters of UK businesses use tablets to increase productivity, with Android-powered devices the most popular.

This statistic only confirms what we’ve all seen in our day-to-day lives. From receiving a parcel to chatting with a healthcare professional, we’re never far from the tablet glow.

The market, of course, is huge. But if you’re searching for the best tablets for business in your sector, we’re going to do you a huge favour and save you hours of research. We’ll narrow the search by focusing only on rugged devices.

Why? Because these tough cookies will last the distance and provide a higher return on investment in business environments in a way consumer-grade devices simply won’t.

So – if you want to prevent your tablet procurement dreams from shattering into a million useless pieces (we’ve seen this too often), go rugged.

If you want a bit more background before plunging into our recommendations, you can read our full guide to what rugged means. For any tl;dr (too long, didn’t read) visitors: rugged machines are tough-as-nails water-resistant devices that will take drops and knocks.

How to use this guide

We’ve broken down our best tablet for business guide by sector. These are the requirements you’ll typically find in given industries. This is a good way to start the conversation, although naturally your exact needs may differ. That’s why we recommend you read the whole guide – even the parts that don’t relate to your industry – as something might jump out at you that says ‘This is US and we need THAT’.

Without further ado…

Retail and hospitality

The work environment:

Customers and guests are asking more and more of your people and you need a lightweight, rugged device with great functionality to meet their needs. The ideal retail tablet must cope with click and collect, inventory management, order and returns processing, mobile point of sale, line busting, guest check-in and more.

Retail worker in her store using the best tablets for retail business, the Zebra ET51
Boost retail efficiency with the Zebra ET51 tablet – lightweight, rugged, and perfect for inventory management, mobile point of sale, and more

Best tablets for business: retail and hospitality

Zebra ET51 is the perfect lightweight rugged tablet for indoor areas with WiFi coverage. The display really pops out in the larger 10in model. You can add a barcode reader on the back with the expansion pack accessory; or choose the model with an integrated scanner. Applications will handle all the retail functions listed above and become a true shopfloor friend for product lookup, sales and more. Finally, there’s no issue if your people are in hectic retail environments with no time to charge – hot-swappable functionality means they can replace the battery without powering down the machine.

Manufacturing and construction

The work environment:

From a technology point of view, factories and construction sites can be hugely demanding. Think rain, dust, glare – pretty much the full spectrum of environmental conditions. With no desks in site, your people may also struggle to find somewhere suitable to put their device down so, yes, it’s going to hit the deck. Possibly even a hard deck. Oh, and these environments are noisy and your people may be wearing gloves. This is the proverbial ‘big ask’.

Best tablets for business: manufacturing and construction

The Panasonic FZ-G2 will not be fazed by the rough and tumble of factory and site work. It’s tested to MIL-STD 810H, which means it’s going to survive those drops onto hard surfaces. It also has an IP65 rating for water and dust resistance – even if you find yourself wiping the screen to clear dirt and debris the machinery inside will be pristine. While strong, it’s not the silent type. The sound in this machine cuts through loud and clear, which will be particularly useful where vehicles and loud machinery are nearby. Other features you’ll appreciate include a bright 1,000 nits display which is readable in outdoor sunlight, suitability for gloved use, and user–programmable buttons – so you can launch that app quickly with one free hand.

A close up of the Panasonic FZ-G2 rugged tablet
The Panasonic FZ-G2: tough, rugged, and ready for the harshest environments in manufacturing and construction. Image source: Panasonic

Oil and gas, and petrochemical (and all explosive scenarios)

The work environment:

Some industries – for instance oil and gas, petrochemical, industrial manufacturing and pharmaceuticals – may feature explosive atmospheres. Anything with the power to create heat or a spark could be catastrophic. You need an ‘intrinsically safe’ tablet that also brings the high-performing functionality of business-grade devices.

Best tablets for business: explosive environments

The Getac F110-EX ATEX-certified fully rugged tablet brings powerful computing capabilities to dangerous environments. Suitable for hazardous locations, it offers ATEX and IECEx Zone 2/22 certification for use in potentially explosive atmospheres. It also comes with a large 11.6in screen compatible with finger, gloved or stylus use, a powerful processor and a PCle solid-state drive for super-fast loading.

A close up of the Getac F110-EX ATEX tablet, best for explosive environments
The Getac F110-EX: Unleash high-performance computing in explosive environments with this ATEX-certified rugged tablet. Image source: Getac


The work environment:

From hospital settings to home environments, technology for healthcare has some very particular requirements. These may include emergency functions, item scanning, speedy patient check-in and the ability to quickly pull up patient records. These tablets should also be user-friendly in terms of weight and brightness for both patients and healthcare professionals. Crucially, they must handle heavy-duty cleaning to minimise the risk of cross-infection.

A doctor using a Zebra Technologies ET40 HC to view patient details. The patient is pregnant and lying in a hospital bed.
The Zebra ET40-HC and ET45-HC: Versatile healthcare tablets with rugged design, disinfectant-ready housing, and advanced connectivity for seamless patient care

Best tablets for business: healthcare

We’ll look at two options, for two settings. Both feature: a rugged design; a disinfectant-ready housing; a built-in scanner; and an emergency alert button.

The Zebra ET40-HC with WiFI-6 wireless connectivity is ideal for use inside healthcare facilities. It can access and update health records, receive alerts from patients, and communicate with coworkers’ devices. This adaptable model can also be used for patient check-in and is ideal for non-emergency functions such as patient entertainment and food ordering.

The Zebra ET45-HC comes with WiFi 6 and 5G and is a great choice for health professionals working at patients’ homes or in large facilities beyond conventional WiFi range. It offers all the functionality of the ET40 with these additional connectivity options for reliable communications.


The work environment:

Picking and packing, shipping and receiving, and inventory management are intensive activities for both devices and the people using them. Perhaps more than any other workplace scenario, this one requires some careful thinking about workflows and ergonomics, so that stock keeps moving and employees stay comfortable.

Best tablets for business: warehouses

The Zebra ET56 comes from the thinnest and lightest of Zebra’s range, with enterprise-class durability and data capture. It features three methods of data entry that work even if the screen is wet — a stylus or a finger, with or without a glove. Also, there are many ways to hold and carry this tablet from Zebra’s wide range of accessories, from top handles to a handy breakaway shoulder strap. What makes this machine a fabulous fit for warehouse environments in particular is the many options for scanning quickly and accurately. Simply add the Zebra enterprise-class SE4750 scan engine for moderate to heavy scanning via the quick-install expansion pack. Or pick any of Zebra’s high-performing Bluetooth scanners to pair with your tablet, from point-and-shoot options to ring-scan varieties.

Zebra Technologies ET56 rugged tablet, best tablets for business when workers are based in warehouses
Efficiency meets durability: Zebra ET56 – the ultimate tablet for warehouse operations, optimizing workflows and enhancing data capture

Fieldwork and logistics

The work environment:

Your people are out of the office/warehouse and on the move. They’re in and out of vehicles and possibly even getting stuck on-site in remote locations. What they’re also doing is collecting data – lots of it. They need something durable, zippy at collecting information and, crucially, able to handle long shifts when power adaptors aren’t always available.

Best tablets for business: fieldwork and logistics

The Samsung Galaxy Tab Active4 Pro has to be one of the best on-the-move tablets on the market. This powerful machine comes with up to 1TB of external storage and a powerful Octa-core processor, so you can multitask with big apps and files away from the office. All of this is housed in a light body, making it easy to carry around. There are a few other things to love about this tablet for fieldwork and logistics. You can adjust sensitivity settings to make it suitable for working with gloves, and the included ‘S Pen’ provides an easy way to input data on the go. The powerful battery is replaceable, so you never need run out of power. Finally, it offers barcode-scanning-readiness via an improved 50MP/8MP dual-lens camera. Using tools such as Knox Capture, you can scan multiple barcodes for maximum productivity.

Close up of the Samsung Galaxy Tab Active4 Pro tablet
Powerful, durable, and efficient: Samsung Galaxy Tab Active4 Pro – the ultimate tablet for on-the-move fieldwork and logistics. Image source: Samsung

Sales reps/ hybrid working environments

The work environment:

This category is for any worker toggling between ‘out in the field’ and ‘back to the office’, with the intensive desk work the latter implies. You’ll need something that’s light and portable for your fieldwork and more like a traditional computer for heavy-duty office jobs. Your tablet is also going to need to keep you connected, anywhere, and last the distance. Who knows where the next powers source is coming from?

Best tablets for business: sales reps

The Zebra XSlate L10 Rugged Tablet is incredibly fast, handling multiple tasks with ease. The speed factor continues with its connectivity – it delivers super-fast wireless connections via WiFi, Bluetooth, cellular, GPS and NFC. Wherever you are, you’ll almost certainly stay in touch. What makes this a star buy for data crunchers who spend time on the road is the included keyboard, which instantly turns this tablet into a laptop. Meanwhile, it has a hot-swappable battery, which means you can quickly replace one battery with another and keep the machine running. Even better, this battery will go on and on for up to 27 hours if you choose the extended version.

Zebra Technologies' L10 rugged tablet. Best tablets for business when you need flexibility to do work in the field and at a desk.
Enhance productivity on the move: Zebra XSlate L10 Rugged Tablet – the ultimate choice for sales reps in hybrid working environments

Zebra Workstation Connect allows you to turn mobile devices and tablets into mobile-driven workstations in a second. Just connect to an external monitor to mirror a device’s contents. You can even go one step further from mere mirroring by interacting with multiple apps simultaneously in individual resizable windows.

Nuffield Technologies can help you find the right choice of tablet for your sector. We work with clients across all industries – from logistics and manufacturing to hospitality and fieldwork – and can recommend and supply devices for you that increase efficiencies and profits. Contact us to start a conversation.

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