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John Hill

Firefighter Tablet: iPad vs. Motion F5v

Rating: 2 votes, 1.50 average.
This week I'm in Seattle at the FIREHOUSE Software End User Training Symposium. Over 400 fire department personnel that use FIREHOUSE Software (FH)are to learn about how to take advantage of the capabilities of the software. FH has just released an inspection module that runs on the iPad. Their sales people in the field all carry Motion or Panasonic tablet PCs. Which will win the hearts and minds of the fire fighting community?

The iPad is inexpensive and that seems to be the #1 reason that people give, stating they can "buy five of them for every tablet PC". I can't dispute that. What is important is all the features that the iPad doesn't offer that are important for fire inspectors in the field. These include the ability to run other Windows applications, the ability to capture signatures with a pen, ruggedness, sketching with a pen and more. Using the handwriting recognition, inspectors can add notes about unusual situations without having to try and tap on an on-screen keyboard with their fingers.

For other FH software like incident command, a Motion F5v with hot-swappable batteries means you can run it 24 hours a day just by keeping another battery charged. With the optional barcode reader, firefighters can do personnel accountability and station/truck inventory.

The Apple iPad is a great device and for those that don't mind the limitations of how it can be used in the field can be a choice but for those that want to take full advantage of all the software that runs on their desktop or laptop, the Motion F5v can't be beat.

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  1. digitaldoctors's Avatar
    ipad = instant on. Was FIREHOUSE Software specifically designed for a Tablet ? Do people actually walk around and write on the tablet ? What windows software is needed in the field ? I think how good the software is would help choose the right device.
  2. John Hill's Avatar
    FH was not designed for the tablet but works very well with it. Plus, users are always walking around when using it so a mobile platform like the tablet is preferred. Most of the work is done through pointing, clicking and drop downs but unusual conditions or additional notes require handwriting. Also, after an inspection the fire marshal captures a signature from someone at the business. The iPad works well with the inspection software but the problem is when people want to do other things like notetaking, spreadsheets, taking pictures, etc. they find the iPad comes up short. I'm sure the gap between what the iPad can and can't do will narrow but for now it isn't the best device.
  3. Gideon007's Avatar
    I like the much more open minded approach to the ipad on this site. I own two TC1100, an iPad and am mostly working on a Mac... now the TC1100 only get used when I need to do some Windows work for which I need a REAL Windows computer (opposed to Windows on a VM) - though the last time I did that was when an iOS Jailbreak software was only availlable for Windows :)
    Ah, sorry I'm ranting :)