Keyboard and pen PC

Date of publication: January 1, 1997


CAPI is becoming a must to survive for organisations offering face-to- face fieldwork. Hardware investments constitute at least 75% of the total out of pocket initial CAPI investments. Two hardware alternatives are common in market research: the laptop with keyboard and the pen PC. In this paper a comparison is made between laptop and pen PC with the objective to support decision making about hardware for CAPI. Results were compared of interviewers using a pen PC and interviewers using a laptop to collect data. Interviews with IT decision makers across western Europe and the pen PC interviewers involved in the field test were conducted to gain insight in their experiences and preferences. Analysis concentrated on open answers, spontaneous and aided awareness, response on privacy sensitive questions and duration of the interviews. No major differences were found between CAPI interviews conducted by laptop or pen PC, although there is an indication that open answers are longer on pen PCs. Therefore there seems to be no reason to choose a type of machine on the grounds of better data quality or higher speed. It appears that the choice for a type of machine can best be made on the basis of costs, the situation in which the interviewer has to work (indoors, outdoors, standing, sitting), efficiency of coding open answers after fieldwork and future possibiities like multi media.

Niels J. Grommé


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