Based upon the products specification, we will develop a prototype qualification plan. This plan will include provisions for Alpha and Beta testing of the prototypes, prior to entering the next stage which is manufacturing preparation. We have access to labs all across the US, with a multitude of specialities ranging from product safety, environmental, FCC, and EMC testing. Our experience has been that even Alpha prototypes should go through a minimum series of test before being released to highly qualified end users for testing. Time and money spent in the lab can save many thousands in the field. This is even more critical for Beta test units, in that potential customers may be involved in the Beta stage. One day in the EMC lab can save numerous flights and field service calls to say nothing of saving face in front of ones Beta testers. The key however, is a well written test plan and qualification documents to try and catch as many potential failure modes in the lab, rather than at the Alpha and Beta test sites.
There is a tendency to want to sell Alpha and Beta units. We do not condone such practices, as such products are not production ready, have not been thoroughly tested on production gear, and just by their nature, may require another interation or two to meet the design specification. As such, the final stages of manufacturing preparation, and product release should be completed, before anything other than pre-release intent to purchase commitments are made.
By the same token, it can be advisable to require some financial commitment on the part of Alpha and Beta testers, such that they take the testing process seriously. I recommend taking deposits as a requirement for Alpha and Beta testing, such that the deposit will be refunded upon the completion of the test, and the return of the Alpha and Beta units.