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TOUGHBOOK N1 falling in a puddle next to a curb

Not All Rugged Devices are Created Equal

5 Ways to Avoid Rugged Confusion
Written by Dirk Weigelt – European Product Manager for Panasonic Mobile Solutions Business Division Europe

Not All Rugged Devices are Created Equal

5 Ways to Avoid Rugged Confusion

Buyers of rugged mobile computing devices are confused by the terminology describing just how tough their notebooks, tablets and handheld devices are. For example, research has shown as many as 85% of business buyers of mobile computing devices believe standards for ruggedness are already in place – and yet none exist.

Buyers beware. Here are five top tips to avoid the confusion, and find the rugged computing solution fit for your workforce.

TOUGHBOOK M1 covered in ice

1. Don’t believe the hype

Despite the use of rugged-sounding language, there are currently no official standards for what qualifies as ‘rugged’. Panasonic may have conducted more than 500 tests and quality checks during the production of a TOUGHBOOK and have undergone several independent lab tests to ensure its reliability but other manufacturers may not. Know your stuff. Make sure you research hard statistics before you buy any rugged device, and don’t be taken in by marketing jargon.

 

2. Be militant about MIL-STD

When purchasing a device which boasts MIL-STD compliance, or has been tested to ‘Military Standard’, you might expect to receive a set standard of performance. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case, as there are few regulations on the current market.

What’s more, more than 35% of buyers incorrectly believe a device’s battery life is tested as part of MIL-STD*. In fact, some manufacturers don’t test their devices at all, despite claiming to meet MIL-STDs.

Don’t be afraid to ask your vendor how a device is tested, including the conditions and what features are examined, and ask for proof of test certificates.

A TOUGHBOOK 33 tablet being used in bright sunlight by a fireman

3. Do your own testing

More than a fifth of buyers confirm they don’t undertake their own testing on the rugged devices they purchase. Relying on manufacturers’ claims is a risky gamble when your computing solutions will be supporting teams in extreme environments – or even semi-rugged environments like retail or services.

Ask your vendor what methods are used to test your device, such as individual testing or batch testing. Plus ask your workforce what features matter to them before your purchase. Then test devices yourself, with the workforce, to be sure they’re fit for purpose.

 

4. Keep your standards high

Ingress Protection (IP) ratings are an essential part of a well-built rugged mobile device, measuring a product’s level of protection against particles and liquid. The higher the score, the better the protection. Surprisingly, over two-thirds of buyers are unable to correctly identify what a device’s IP Rating measures, or what constitutes as a ‘good’ vs a ‘bad’ rating. If a device is claiming to meet MIL-STD, for example, it should have a high IP score.

Check your device’s IP Rating. Remember, the higher the score, the better protection your device will have against liquids and particles.

5. Know what’s important to you

Before you set out to purchase any device, make a list of what features are important to you and your workforce, so you can get the best solution for everyone. Whether that’s having a removable/swappable battery, seamless connectivity or ultimate data security, having a list of essentials will ensure you can handle your buying decision with confidence.

Your vendor should be able to tell you everything you want to know about the solution you’re buying: from which ports and interfaces are included on your device, to its display options, to power management optimisation.

Make a list of the most important device features and ask your vendor about any add-ons, swap-outs and alternatives to be sure you’re getting the best solution for your objectives.

Buying new technology for your business is always a tricky thing to get right but by applying these top 5 hacks, you should be well on the way to finding the best possible rugged devices for your workforce.

Read more about the rugged testing that TOUGHBOOK devices undergo to ensure they are fit for purpose.

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