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Traditional Vehicle Mounted Terminals Versus Tablets

Vehicle Mounted Terminals (VMU) have been around for a very long time to improve data collection capabilities in warehouses and distribution centers. VMU’s were designed to withstand the vibrations of being on a fork truck and survive rugged environments such as exposure to weather and dirt. These devices were usually small screens with limited functionality. Most ran terminal emulation, but some were able to have more advanced programs loaded that allowed for a greater range of uses. The operating systems and wireless networks were proprietary, and updates were usually not applied unless “something was broken”. Furthermore, VMU devices worked on older networks of 400MHz, 900MHz, 2.4GHz direct sequencing, or 2.4GHz open air. The price of a VMU was HIGH, but some customers were able to justify cost of the solution though efficiencies in workflows.

When 2.4GHz wireless networks became standard, mobile options for fork trucks started to emerge. For example, most operating systems for VMU’s were replaced by Windows Mobile which allowed for a more standardized suite of programs. With Windows Mobile the cost of a VMU came down as devices became more of a commodity. Additionally, once installed these devices required minimum maintenance and system upgrades making them an obvious choice for fork-lift operations. Even though some users were still running terminal emulation or were testing the waters with other browser-based solutions, Windows Mobile was clearly the dominate player in VMU technology.

However, even with leading market share, Microsoft dropped a bomb on the data collection community. Microsoft made the decision to stop support for Windows Mobile. Without a doubt this was a huge disrupter for data collection manufactures who were left rushing to find suitable operating systems for VMU’s (and handheld terminals) for future models. Nevertheless, with Windows Mobile out of the picture, Android based systems, or a Microsoft supported subset of Windows were the go-to options.

Android Based Vehicle Mounts

Some manufactures introduced Android VMU’s. These devices gave access to the Google Play Store to allow for easy loading of programs. From terminal emulation (with solutions like Stay-Linked) to ERP’s (Oracle, Dynamics 365, NetSuite and many more), the devices became more user friendly. Although operating system updates must still be addressed by the customer, the updates are made available by the manufactures of VMU’s and usually released once a month. For Android based devices, the Honeywell VM1A Vehicle Mount provides the accessibility needed to perform transactions efficiently through the shift.


Windows Based Vehicle Mounts

Some companies also introduced rugged Windows based tablets into the VMU space. These devices, when paired with a vehicle  dock, have the same capabilities as a traditional VMU. However, they offer a couple of benefits – lower price and the ability to be used away from the dock. Since these devices are true PC’s, updates are easily applied, although moving between versions like Windows 10 to Windows 11 can be an issue. Nonetheless, the Honeywell RT10 Rugged Tablet is an excellent choice for rapid user adoption, minimized total cost of ownership.


If you are looking for a Vehicle Mount Solution for your operations Taylor Data Systems can assist with determining the best option for your needs. In addition, Taylor Data Systems offers additional options like outdoor screens, cold temperature devices, cellular radios, keyboards, scanners, and external antennae, and accessories. Contact us today!