This is by far the biggest question we see about this project. What does the Wallpad do differently? Let's break it down to the biggest benefits of the Wallpad versus a handheld device. 1. Power 2. Physical Connectivity 3. Long life cycle hardware and support.
1. Power - The PoE option is a huge benefit over a phone cradled in a dock. Docks and other types of mounts used for handheld devices still need to have a power cable routed to it. If it's an in-wall solution you want or need, this can become a giant headache. First you'll need to devise a way to get a power solution inside your walls to your device. There are no power outlets inside the wall, so it gets a bit tricky. If you plan on connecting it to existing power outlets from the inside, you may want to consult an electrician which adds more cost to your project.
2. Physical connectivity - This is a huge factor for people who want a dedicated in-wall control solution. Many people who have used handheld devices in lieu of a dedicated device have reported wireless connectivity issues, be it bluetooth or Wifi. Any wireless signal can be attenuated over distance, physical and electronic interference. For a device like this, it needs to be free from these types of failures.
1 & 2 - The best part is you can run power and connectivity all with one cable. Ethernet cables are easy to make or acquire in a number of lengths. They're also pretty easy to run through walls and ceilings and don't require any special hardware or connectors to install.
3. Long Lifecycle hardware and support - What does this mean? We come from an embedded systems manufacturing background. An embedded system is any device that is not a laptop or a PC. They are often used for a number of industrial and infrastructure computers. This means they must be built to last. Our boards are all "industrial" grade to put it in layman's terms. Additionally, the SKUs of the hardware we use are not your typical consumer level SKUs. This means that they will continue to receive updates and support over the course of 7-10 years instead of the 2-4 years for most consumer SKUs. For something dedicated like this, you don't want to have to upgrade every 2 years like you do with a tablet or smart phone.