Choosing between Keyboard and Full-Touch Mobile Computers for Your DSD Operations

Choosing between Keyboard and Full-Touch Mobile Computers for Your DSD Operations

With the sunset of Windows® mobile operating systems and 3G networks at hand, many DSD operations are looking to upgrade their handheld computers. But in choosing your next device, one issue is key: Do your users need a keyboard, or is full-touch the better choice? 

Most legacy handhelds used in DSD operations have keyboards, while most smartphones and newer mobile computers today are full-touch. The make-up of your employees may also be changing, with your newer employees looking to use mobile computers more like their familiar smartphones. 

The truth is, both keyboard and full-touch models can be viable options for DSD, and the right answer depends upon the tasks your workers do and the applications they use.  Physical keys can be the best option for specific tasks. For example, you may very well be reading this document on a laptop or tablet with keys, because keys work well with some of the tasks you frequently do (email, spreadsheets, etc.).

Virtual keyboards for full-touch have also gotten increasingly more versatile and easier to use. Notably, Honeywell has developed a customized virtual keyboard that is well-suited to quick numeric entry using the Honeywell keyboard creator utility. 

Depending upon the specific tasks being done, voice, scanning, and other technologies may provide good alternative input options. 

Here are a few example scenarios with a recommended mobile computer type to consider:

·       Situation

·       Consider

·       Workers frequently need to key in numeric item/quantity information and speed is important.

·       Keyboard-based device

·       Workers need to view multiple tables of data at once and need to key in only some adjustments.

·       Full-touch device

·       Workers may wear gloves while working and need to key in data.

·       Keyboard-based device

·       Workers often need to view visual information (images, schematics, etc.) and input is infrequent.

·       Full-touch device






Tactile feel

More screen space for the same
overall mobile computer size

Better ability to do fast “blind keying” (user does
not need to look at the keyboard during entry)

Greater ability to customize or add keyboards

More durable for heavy keying applications

Can add multiple keyboards – able to use both optimized alpha and numeric keyboards

Can work better with gloves

Easier to clean


Looking Ahead

Honeywell offers a full line of keyboard and full-touch handhelds that are convenient and easy to carry, yet rugged for tough DSD environments. Still unsure about your options? You can always try both types and determine whether a keyboard or full-touch model is right for your operations. Both styles typically run the same operating system software so you can try your applications on both. Honeywell's Movilizer-based DSD applications run well on both keyboard and full-touch models, controlled by a simple configuration setting.  

Honeywell Mobile Computers for DSD

All of these devices, except the CN75e, are built on Honeywell’s unified Mobility Edge™ platform – making them easy to deploy, maintain, and support no matter what your current infrastructure. They also offer foolproof investment protection with the industry’s longest lifecycle through Android™ R.  Dolphin™ CN80 Our most rugged handheld, with a 4.2 in touch screen and your choice of 23-key numeric or 40-key QWERTY keypad. 

CN75e. The versatility you need, with a choice of Windows or Android. Includes a larger keypad design, making it ideal for glove-wearers or more data input–intensive applications 

Dolphin CT60. The more rugged of our full-touch models, with the ability to survive 8 ft drops and a 4.7 in display. 

Dolphin CT40. A sleek and lighter weight full-touch handheld, with a 5 in display and three scan engine options. 

See Honeywell’s complete line of handheld computers at https://www.honeywellaidc.com/products/computer-devices/handheld

Barry J. Ewell

Barry J. Ewell is a Senior Content Marketing Communications Specialist for Honeywell Industrial Automation. He has been researching and writing on supply chain topics since 1991.