Y'ep for field stuff 8 ins is about right -- wonder though if a touch pen might be possible -- although that's something else that can easily get lost in the field - for example when going to say a faulty H/V electricity Pylon in the middle of nowhere.
Another possibility is to have all drop down items on the inspection form - but sometimes the observations made by an inspector out in the field won't always fit into "pre-canned" selections. Another design possibility is for the FORM to accept input from a Mobile phone acting as an external keyboard - here again you would need at least phone coverage at the remote site.
As a "REAL" Engineer myself I often get the feeling that people designing applications for mobile devices to be used out in the field have never either USED one of these devices or never set foot outside their lab or office.
In the construction industry, it takes 3 engineers and may be 4 drafters to design. It takes a dozen or more field engineers, half a dozen surveyors, and 100 or more laborers and operators for a $700 million project. I don't know why you would think that our economy and infrastructure can be maintained mostly by people who sit at a desk all day. We often get young engineers who's dream is to sit at a desk all day. Most of them would beg to transfer out to the field in a couple years.
100% to that !!!
I HATED it when I was stuck in an office -- couldn't wait to get my next field gig.
Modern open plan offices are a TOTAL abomination - especially in these days of total lack of consideration for other people when using mobile phones. Something about a Mobile phone just seems to switch off any idea of manners or consideration for others -- I'm sure you knoiw what I mean -- loud ring tones, annoying email notification beeps every few seconds, click noises when texting and when answering / making calls using voices so loud that even an old Drill Sgt in the Army would be proud of.
Don't those tablets have a place for a lock cable, can tie a touch pen to it, that's what i do with smart phone.
Out in the field - especially if the weather is bad / very windy (Iceland gets very windy !!) the last thing you want to do is fiddle around with lock cables -- and the keys are usually tiny as well -- another very losable item. Remember also if it's cold and wet you might be wearing gloves in any case so even more fiddly to mess around with a lock cable..
Also, there are anti-tech oldies that haven't died off of old age yet. They hate it that we use tech at all. This is why everything I design in my software has to be dummified. If it takes these oldies more than 2 seconds to figure out how to do something, they reject it out right. Hence, why my app syncs in real time all data input across all devices.
I've been putting a contraption together for a person to wear an 8" tablet on his left arm so he can be hands free. Think buzz light year.
You guys, you have it relatively easy nowadays, Smart phones, tablets big and small, laptops, netbooks, kindles and all kinds of goodies and you are complaining about menus on them. !!! My work consisted of office, factory and field work that took me from Toronto to Baffin island, Vancouver, Montreal, Detroit, St Louis, Memphis and Laredo, everywhere our corporation had plants and many places in between where we had customers or suppliers, The best help I could have was an IBM 8086 portable that weighed more than 20 pounds. Tried a Newton at one time but it was no help at all. Only last couple of working years I got a Toshiba 286 laptop but by that time I was stuck at two factories only and had a PC at each one and connected by a real slow DSL. By that time I collected a suitcase of floppy disks to lug around too.
So, to me at least, fight about measly menu makes very little sense.