Which piece of hardware is ultimately the right fit for the construction industry? From laptops, to tablets, to smartphones, contractors have a number of options to choose from to access and manage data at the jobsite. But what type of device is the best fit? While it ultimately comes down to the needs of each individual company, there are a number of factors to consider.

Gartner, www.gartner.com, Stamford, Conn., recently announced its forecast for the shipments of devices in 2014. This includes PCs, tablets, and mobile phones. The mobile phone is still one of the largest segments of the overall device market, and is expected to reach 1.9 billion units this year. This is a 4.9% increase from last year.

Looking at the tablet space, overall adoption is anticipated to grow very quickly at a rate of 38.6% this year. On the flip side, traditional PCs are forecast to decline 6.6% in 2014. Still, Ranjit Atwal, research director, Gartner, says tablet substitution of notebooks will start to dissipate from this year onwards, as businesses begin to align the right device with the right usage pattern.

So which device is right for construction? For many, it depends on the type of business function required. For instance, checking email can easily be done on a smartphone, while a thorough safety inspection might require a larger device like a tablet.

When looking at the various types of connected devices available, many in construction might immediately go to the Android vs. iOS debate. Gartner says iOS growth has slowed in North America, and more than one billion Android devices will be sold this year.

Still, for the construction industry, there is another option—rugged Windows devices. While there are many options that fit in this category, Motion Computing, www.motioncomputing.com, Austin, Texas, recently announced a new rugged Windows-based tablet that is designed for the jobsite.

The Motion R12 Rugged Platform is a lightweight 12.5-in. tablet with a SlateMate data-acquisition module, EasyPair wireless keyboard, and Secure Mobile vehicle dock. The company says with the desktop mount companies can easily use the tablet in the office or at the jobsite.

The number of device options for the construction industry continues to grow. Ultimately, the decision will come down to the needs of each construction company.