The Panasonic Toughbook is a tough, rugged machine. But what makes a Panasonic Toughbook fully rugged?
The answer to this question is simple really. While ruggedness has become a trademark of Panasonic’s computing solutions, some laptops are manufactured to withstand a bigger beating than others. The most rugged are fully rugged, and those that are less rugged are known as semi rugged.
Photo Credit: Panasonic
The specifications of Panasonic’s range of Toughbooks vary according to the needs of target customers. For example, the fully rugged Toughbook 31 is a powerful laptop computer that any first responder can confidently use. The semi-rugged Toughbook 54 is much thinner and lighter than the Toughbook 31, which is beneficial for many professionals working in the field, but in less extreme circumstances than police and military personnel, or many of those who are involved with fire and medical response services.
All Panasonic Toughbooks and Toughpads are rigorously tested to ensure they meet specific military and other standards. However, those manufactured to survive worst scenario conditions undergo the harshest tests possible, from six-foot drops to extreme exposure to dust and water.
So what tests are carried out to ensure a Panasonic Toughbook meets the specs to be labeled fully rugged?
US Military Standard Testing
Introduced more than half a century ago, in 1962, the US Military Standards simulate how materials (including various devices) will withstand various types of environmental stress. All in all, there are 28 different methods for testing that include everything from temperature to gunfire and even fungal infestation. Of course, not all of these apply to the Panasonic Toughbook, but a lot of them do.
Even though military standard testing (MIL-STD) is only mandatory for military contracts, manufacturers often use the results of military tests for marketing purposes. These tests are also used to prove that products meet the most stringent military specifications and to ensure that items – like laptops and tablets – are semi- or fully rugged.
Eight of the tests that are used to ensure computing devices are rugged are designed to certify that the device can withstand:
- high temperatures, both real and artificial
- low temperatures and continue to operate in these conditions
- both driving rain and dripping water
- warm, humid air that is even more extreme than the humidity found in nature
- blowing sand and dust
- being submerged or partially submerged in water
- intense vibration that is also frequent
- the shock of being dropped from high levels
Additionally, there is an international standard that rates ingress protection, and in this way defines how well “electrical enclosures” – including devices that have some sort of wiring – are sealed to prevent intrusion of dirt, water, and other foreign matter.
If you are in the market for a Panasonic Toughbook – either fully- or semi-rugged – Mooring Tech has new and refurbished models available. Contact us to see how we can help you.
Read more +
Panasonic puts all its Toughbooks and Toughpads through rigorous testing procedures to ensure that they can do the job – particularly when it comes to critical disaster response.
But the real test comes when these devices are used in real-life disaster scenarios.
While the feedback from users of Panasonic Toughbooks for disaster response has been consistently positive, a recent Urban Shield event enabled a different type of grueling test. The exercise chosen was for “full-scale regional preparedness” and those participating were given full-rugged Toughbooks to use for logistics tracking and at medical checkpoints.
About Urban Shield
A full-scale multi-disciplinary homeland security and disaster preparedness exercise hosted annually by the Alameda County Sheriff’s office, Urban Shield has the support of the San Francisco Bay Area’s Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI). Additionally, it has more than 200 partners – local, federal, international, in-state, and from the private sector.
The way it works is that first responders are given specific real-life scenarios to react to in Alameda, San Francisco, San Mateo, Contra Costa, and Santa Clara counties. The exercise itself takes place for a continuous 48-hour period of time and is designed to identify and test regional resources and core capabilities. It helps to expand regional collaboration and to build positive relationships across the board. It also aims to provide increased collaboration between local businesses and critical infrastructures.
Ultimately, it tests preparedness for a range of possible real-life crises in high-density, high-threat urban environments. Scenarios incorporate public transportation, bridges, stadiums, and various other critical infrastructures.
In 2014, an incident command structure was set up with nine area commands a department operations center and medical checkpoints. There were about 60 first-responder teams (as well as more than 6,000 volunteers) that participated in this exercise. Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT), Explosive Ordnance Disposal, and fire department teams from California, various other US states, and other countries, including Singapore, pushed themselves to the limit as their skills and abilities were tested.
Panasonic Toughbooks for Disaster Response at Urban Shield 2014
Technology is critical in real-life scenarios like those acted out at Urban Shield events. In particular, mobile devices are vital, not just for first-responders, but also for those involved in logistics, and those based at medical checkpoints.
The choice of Panasonic Toughbooks for disaster response at the Urban Shield event was based on its durability. Consumer-grade laptops simply cannot withstand the conditions first-responders and fire fighters face. And they can’t afford to risk cracked screens and broken laptops in life-threatening situations. As Michael Barnes from the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office said, it’s not even an option in an exercise like Urban Shield because there wouldn’t be time to swap out a broken or damaged device.
Various Toughbook models were used for the Urban Shield exercise including the:
- Toughbook 19, Panasonic’s rugged convertible tablet/PC which features an all-weather deign and sunlight-viewable display.
- Toughbook 31, a reliable rugged laptop.
- Toughbook 53, a great semi-rugged laptop.
- Toughbook C2, a semi-rugged convertible tablet/PC.
And not one of these Panasonic Toughbooks for disaster response failed during the 48-hour exercise.
If you are in the market for Panasonic Toughbooks or Toughpads, contact Mooring Tech for more specific information and pricing.
Read more +
A total game-changer for a range of industries and first responders, the Panasonic ToughBook CF-20 is light, skinny, attractive, and incredibly tough. Ideal for mobile business computing, it was designed expressly for field professionals and a range of corporate needs in mind.
Features of the Panasonic Toughbook CF-20
Launched in June 2016, the CF-20 is the first fully rugged laptop in the world to have a detachable keyboard, instantly converting it into a tablet, and increasing its mobile advantage. It is driven by the powerful sixth generation 1.1GHz Intel Core m5-6Y57 vPro Processor that can run at an incredible 2.8GHz with Intel Turbo Boost.
The Toughbook CF-20 comes with Windows 10 Pro and an option to downgrade to Windows 7 Pro. It measures 272 mm x 196 mm and is just 16.4 mm thick, weighing in at 1,760 g (3.8 lbs). It has a 10.1-inch (256.5 mm) standard touchscreen display that has a resolution of 1920 x 1200 pixels. A touchscreen with digitizer is also available to further simplify messaging and data input.
This super-charged machine is supplied with 8GB of RAM, while the tablet has 128GB of internal storage that may be expanded using a microSD card. The 2600mAh user-exchangeable battery can be removed and replaced, effectively extending battery life from seven hours to 14 hours.
The Toughbook CF-20 comes standard with a 2-megapixel front camera and the option of an 8-megapixel rear camera for additional usability. Other highlights include Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth, a 1080p webcam, USB 3.0, HDMI, and Ethernet, as well as optional 4G LTE multi-carrier mobile broadband with satellite GPS, and a 1D/2D-capable barcode scanner.
Designed and manufactured using the very best processing and display technology, the CF-20 is suitable for any working environment, however dirty, wet, hot or cold it might be. This is why it’s perfect for any type of mobile business computing or professional fieldwork. Tested to meet MIL-STD-810G, MIL-STD-461F, and IP65, it can be dropped from 4 feet without the danger of damage.
- MIL-STD-810G simulates environmental stresses in a series of tests that involve high and low temperature, rain as well as immersion in water, humidity, sand and dust, vibration, and shock (which includes the “drop” test.)
- MIL-STD-461F is a military-specific standard that covers unintended but unavoidable electromagnetic emissions using a variety of test types: conducted, transient, radiated, as well susceptibility and continuous emissions tests.
- IP65 – an ingress protection rating – that indicates the level of protection a device will have from dust and low-pressure water jets.
User Profiles for the CF-20
A surprising number of industries employ people who fit the Toughbook CF-20’s ideal user profile, simply because so many industries rely on people who are on the move. Its size, weight, good looks, dependability, and versatility make it perfect for mobile business computing and all sorts of mobile consumer services from building inspectors and insurance assessors, to fleet and car hire management personnel.
Maintenance and service technicians work in a wide variety of environments, indoors and outdoors, and the CF-20 convertible tablet generally meets their needs 24:7.
Various emergency services personnel, as well as those working in defense and in government agencies, find the two-in-one design is a huge advantage. The fact that it is totally reliable, light and easy to use makes it a must have!
If you are looking for a CF-20 or any other type of Toughbook or Toughpad, contact Mooring Tech. We have new and refurbished models to meet your toughest needs.
Read more +
The fully rugged Panasonic Toughbook CF-19 is an incredibly versatile hybrid PC notebook and tablet that is as tough as nails and totally unbreakable.
Dubbed the world’s toughest hybrid laptop-computer, the CF-19 has been tested according to several military standards and boasts a total of 12 certifications in all. A relative lightweight in Panasonic’s Toughbook stable, this amazingly advanced little machine weighs just 5.1 lbs and is packed in a ruggedized magnesium-alloy casing that ensures it can be used anywhere, on any surface.
The Standards and Certifications That Make the CF-19 Break-Proof
Here’s why this little Toughbook is tougher than tough, ensuring that whatever you do in the line of duty, you will never be able to break it. Certifications include:
- MIL-STD-810G Tested for various extreme conditions including 6-foot drops, vibration and shocks (including thermal), altitude and humidity, as well as extreme temperature, and resistance to dust, rain, and altitude.
- MIL-STD-461F Tested for electromagnetic interference as well as electromagnetic compatibility. This ensures that fully rugged Toughbooks don’t generate unwanted electromagnetic energy that could interfere with other electronic equipment nearby and that they will not be susceptible to interference.
- Ingress Protection (IP65) Certified according to laboratory tests that ensure levels of resistance to various solid objects, particulates, and liquids – including water and dust.
- ANSI Hazardous Locations Adherence to American National Standards Institute (ANSI) safety standards specs that are vital in many industries including aviation, petrochemical, and oil and gas.
- ENERGY STAR Qualification A voluntary qualification that proves products are energy efficient. Seen as an essential certification to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Other Benefits of the Panasonic Toughbook CF-19
Of course, it isn’t only certifications that make the CF-19 tougher than tough. The design of this fully rugged hybrid device gives users a myriad of other benefits, making it a secret weapon in the field. Wonderfully portable, it has a glare-proof monitor and touchscreen that is easy to read in full sunlight. It also has a dual touch option and superb options including a backlit keyboard, 2MP camera, GPS receiver, and Gobi 200 mobile broadband or 4G LTE mobile broadband.
The CF-19 is perfect for emergency first responders, local government and state operators, those working in high, dangerous places in telecommunications and utilities, as well as outdoor workers doing field and building inspections. Its portability and toughness make it ready to go just about anywhere no other mobile computer could ever go – safely and easily. And of course, the fact that it can be used as either a tablet or notebook means that it’s ready for duty anywhere and any time!
Where to Get Your Panasonic Toughbook CF-19
MooringTech offer a full house of rugged, reliable, and ready-to-use Toughbooks including the hybrid CF-19. Buy new or refurbished models from us, or ask us to custom-build one to meet your own unique needs. Don’t wait – call us today.
Read more +
Panasonic’s hugely popular semi-rugged Toughbook CF-54 has been upgraded to make it faster and better than ever before. Among other things, connectivity has been enhanced, and its graphic capabilities substantially improved over the previous CF-53 model.
The Original Toughbook CF-54
Tested to comply with cutting edge military standards, the 14-inch CF-54 first made its appearance on the market in February 2015. Available in four slightly differently configured models, it was dubbed the world’s thinnest, lightest semi-rugged laptop in its class. Ideal for a range of different industries from automotive diagnostics to police and military, it offered an impressive number of optional upgrades that users could choose to customize the device for their own unique needs.
Established as a flexible, purpose-built mobile solution for those working in semi-rugged environments, it incorporates the power and ability of the best desktop computers. It is recognized as one of the best notebooks for mobile professionals and is popular in many enterprise businesses. It is also the laptop of choice for many local and federal agencies.
And now it’s even better and considerably more powerful than it was originally!
Key Updates of the Toughbook CF-54
Catering to the needs of workers who need a semi-rugged device in field services, utilities, automotive and insurance industries, as well as government and public safety, Panasonic launched the new upgraded Toughbook CF-54 in July 2016.
Panasonic retained the four model options – Lite, Prime, Gloved Multi Touch, and Performance – each of which has its own signature features, as well as the many common features shared by the basic CF-54 design.
Already slimmer, lighter, and more powerful than most, the upgraded Toughbook CF-54 features five key updates:
- Faster Processor The upgraded Intel Core i5-6300U vPro processor operates at 2.4 GHz, or even faster, up to 3.0 GHz with Intel Turbo Boost technology. If that’s not good enough, an Intel Core i7 processor option is also available.
- Updated Operating System The new CF-54 operates with Windows 10 Pro though it can be downgraded to Windows 7 Professional.
- Enhanced WiFi Connectivity CF-54 connectivity has always been good, but now it’s better with Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8260, dual pass-through antenna for WWAN/GPS, and Bluetooth 4.1 (Class 1). Previously it operated with Intel wifi 802 and Bluetooth 4.
- More Powerful Graphics Processor While Intel HD Graphics 520 come standard with three of the models, the Performance features the superb AMD FirePro M5100 graphics that more than doubles the graphics performance.
- New Options Now in addition to the stylish touch screen stylus pen and stylus tether, users have the option of a stylus pen holder too.
The Toughbook CF-54 support RAID mirroring for user applications that need exceptionally high performance and is also available with dual-storage drives to expand storage capacity.
If you like the idea of increases your power with the new, hugely powerful upgraded Toughbook CF-54, contact Mooring Tech for more information. We are here to help.
Read more +
Historically, first responders all over the country have used consumer-grade mobile computers for communication. These work well in good conditions, but as soon as they are faced with the kind of extreme conditions first responders face on a daily basis, these devices tend to fail.
Without constant communication and access to control rooms, backup, and real-time data, first responders cannot do their jobs properly. But with reliable mobile devices that don’t fail, even in the harshest conditions, they become nigh-invincible.
Panasonic Toughbooks and Toughpads were designed with first responders and the military in mind. To ensure they don’t fail, devices undergo intense testing for every possible scenario from extreme temperatures and humidity, excessive exposure to torrential rain, violent wind, sandstorms and dust, and exceptionally strong vibrations. They are also built to withstand drops and bumps, spills and other potential mishaps – and are tested to ensure they won’t only survive these incidents, but will keep on working.
Eaton County First Responders Chose Toughpad FZ-G1 Tablets
The network administrators of Eaton County in Michigan learned a tough lesson several years ago after switching from Panasonic Toughbook laptops to consumer-grade devices. Their existing devices were old and needed to be replaced, and they figured they could buy a whole lot more devices for the cost of one new Toughbook or Toughpad.
Instead of saving money, the county lost money because the consumer-grade computers they had bought often broke down, under-performed, and were generally unreliable. Overall, connectivity and functionality were limited, and personnel were forced to complete paperwork when they returned to the office. The IT team was forced to spend unnecessary time repairing devices, many of which had to be replaced.
Two years later, county officials replaced their unreliable computers with Toughpad FZ-G1 tablets in all of the county’s 16 fire, EMS, and law enforcement agencies. Now, all first responders use them, and they are mounted in fire trucks, ambulances, and in county sheriff and police vehicles.
A year after the new Panasonic Toughpads had been deployed there had not been a single hardware failure. First responders are more efficient and productive than they have ever been before, and they are able to spend more time in the field, without having to do paperwork in the office.
Eaton County officials report that their first responders feel empowered; residents can tell they are invincible (or nearly so).
You can read the Panasonic case study here.
The Value of Panasonic Toughbooks and Toughpads
Military standard Toughbooks and Toughpads have daylight-readable touch screens, and their design is certified for use in all weather conditions.
Police officials love the lightweight Toughpad FZ-G1 tablets because they can remove them quickly and easily from vehicle docks, and carry them to the scene of any incident or disaster scene. They can access real-time data from wherever they are, and, for instance, can run vehicle plates from the device and do crash reports on the scene.
EMS responders find them particularly useful when it comes to retrieving patient histories and access addresses, while fire fighters often use them to access floor plans.
The Panasonic Toughpad FZ-G1 runs off a powerful Intel processor that not only performs exceptionally well but also offers advanced management and security capabilities. They also have embedded 4G LTE broadband-connectivity that increases first responder efficiency, ensuring they cannot be overcome or defeated on the job.
Mooring Tech stocks new and used Panasonic Toughbooks and Toughpads, so when you’re ready to improve the efficiency and nigh-invincibility of your first responders, call us.
Read more +
People who work in the military have to be tough – which is why the mobile devices they use must be tough too, especially those that are used in the field. If military personnel can’t rely on their mobile devices wherever they are, regardless of environmental and other conditions, they could be severely comprised, and citizens could be too.
Panasonic Toughbook tablets and computers – Toughpads and Toughbooks – are designed for military use, and undergo rigorous testing to ensure they are fit for purpose. Ultimately, it is vital that the military personnel that use these devices can count on them to provide a powerful, durable computing solution, wherever they are, day or night.
What Are Military Standard Tests?
The US Department of Defense developed a number of military standards and specifications in 1962 for computerized devices that are used in adverse environmental conditions, in situations where stressors could have a negative effect on them. Then conditions include:
- Driving rain and powerful wind
- Strong vibrations that might be experienced in helicopters or off-road vehicles, or even in unpressurized cargo aircraft
- High altitudes
- Extreme temperatures, both hot and cold, including migration from one extreme to another
- Extreme humidity whether in a manufacturing plant or natural tropical environment
- Excessive exposure to dust and sand, including desert sandstorms
- Being dropped up to 72 inches (1.8 m)
There are many different military standards (MIL-STD) that cover technical and engineering requirements for various items, procedures, practices, processes and so on. The specific standard that covers the design and test criteria for computer devices mentioned above is MIL-STD-810G.
While the standard and tests MIL-STD-810G covers have been modified and changed over the years, it has remained the benchmark for validating the ruggedness of devices. If a device doesn’t pass the military standard tests, there is no guarantee that it will survive mission-critical jobs and circumstances.
Military Standard Tests for Toughbooks and Toughpads
There are a number of different tests specified in MIL-STD-810G. There are various methods and procedures that have to be followed. Critical tests include the:
- Blowing Rain Test that blasts the device with 70 mph winds and 5.8 inch (147 mm) of rain for 30 seconds while it is in operational mode. Procedure I is the important part of this test, while procedure III only tests vertically falling rain and drips.
- Vibration Test that simulates the kinds of vibrations first responders traveling in jeeps, trucks, tanks, ambulances, patrol cars, ambulances, fire engines, and helicopters experience.
- Altitude Test that is conducted while the device is still operational. The test simulates a height of 15,000 feet above sea level.
- High Temperature Test that is performed for 30 minutes, at a temperature of 140 °F (60 °C) while the device is in operational mode.
- Low Temperature Test that involves placing the device in a chilling -20 °F environment for 30 minutes while the device is powered on.
- Temperature Shock Test that tests the reliability of the device when it is moved between extreme temperatures, from as hot as 200 °F to as cold as -60 °F.
- Sand and Dust Resistance Test that involves blowing sand at the device for several hours at a temperature of 140 °F (60 °C).
- Humidity Test that simulates what would happen if the device was used in tropical weather conditions or in a plant or factory where there was high humidity. The test takes place in temperature cycles that range from 86 °F (30 °C) to 140 °F (60 °C) at 95 percent humidity.
- Transit Drop Test that involves devices being dropped from different heights at 26 different angles onto concrete that has been laid over a steel plate that sits on 2-inch (about 50 mm) thick plywood. The rated drop specification is the height from which it was dropped when it can still be turned on and used. This is generally anything between 12 inches (305 mm) and 72 inches (1.8 m).
Since there is no one authorized body that regulates testing, manufacturers take responsibility for their own tests. For this reason it is vital that organizations, businesses, institutions, and government departments insist on third-party validations from reputable testing facilities like Southwest Research Institute (SWRI).
Why Military Standard Tests Matter
Mission-critical personnel cannot choose the conditions in which they work. For instance, if there is a violent storm with wind and rain, they can’t run for shelter and leave those in danger to fend for themselves. A device might be marked “water resistant,” but if it hasn’t passed the relevant procedure of the MIL-STD Blowing Rain Test, it might fail.
Similarly, if a device cannot work because of severe vibrations, high altitude or temperature, or in any of the extreme conditions first responders are so often exposed to, they could find themselves without any form of communication.
The importance of the Low Temperature Test is to ascertain whether the device will withstand icy temperatures and start even when frozen with damage to the device or loss of data. While the Temperature Shock Test ascertains the ability of the device to move between very cold and very hot temperatures, this doesn’t mean it will necessarily be used in places that experience climatic temperatures that are very hot or cold. Rather, the test simulates what would happen to a device if, for example, the user had to move between a freezer truck and a very hot environment. The motivation is to ensure it wouldn’t suffer damage from thermal shock that could damage the device and readability of its screen.
First responders operate in less than usual circumstances and are more likely to drop devices on the job than somebody working in a more traditional environment. Panasonic uses one unit for the full series of Transit Drop Tests, even though the standard allows up to five devices. So while a laptop or tablet may be labeled rugged, if it took multiple devices to pass this test, how rugged is it really?
Panasonic builds its own critical components for its Toughbooks/Toughpads mobile devices and controls every element from design to testing. Mooring Tech is one of the company’s trusted resellers and offers both new and previously owned Toughboos/Toughpads. If you are in the market for a rugged laptop or tablet, contact us for advice.
Read more +
About 240 million emergency calls are made to 911 in the US every year. However some calls are more urgent than others, and some don’t even qualify as true emergencies. The challenge country-wide is to find a way to reduce unnecessary ambulance trips to ER for patients who don’t need immediate attention, so that those in dire need of emergency treatment can be seen more quickly.
The Houston Fire Department has embraced the challenge, using a rugged Panasonic Toughpad to come up with an innovative solution to the problem. In 80 percent of the cases where it was first utilized, the fire and EMS Toughpads were successful in totally avoiding costly ambulance trips and emergency room visits that were unnecessary.
Houston’s ETHAN Project Relies on Rugged Panasonic Toughpads
Houston’s Emergency TeleHealth and Navigation (ETHAN) Project was implemented with the fully rugged Panasonic Toughpad FZ-G1, a lightweight mobile device built to handle the kind of tough conditions first responders face on a daily basis. These include drops and spills, bad weather, vibration (especially while traveling), bad weather and extreme temperatures.
According to program director, Dr. Michael Gonzalez who is also associate medical director for the Houston Fire Department, the project was originally created to incorporate consumer-grade tablets. They tested several devices in the field, and all were destroyed within about a week, he said.
The fact is that for the project to work, fire and EMS crews have to carry devices, and they need lightweight tablets that are built for purpose. Consumer-grade tablets simply don’t have the tough, rugged features Panasonic’s fire and EMS Toughpads have.
In addition to having the ability to operate flawlessly in even the harshest environment, the Toughpad FZ-G1 is the lightest, thinnest fully rugged 10.1-inch Windows 8.1 tablet on the market. It offers many other features including:
- A daylight-readable, glove-sensitive touch screen
- Enterprise-grade security
- A reliable 26-hour hot-swappable battery
It is these features collectively that enabled the Houston Fire Department to revolutionize its 911 emergency response system.
Motivation for the ETHAN Project
Previously every 911 call in Houston resulted in EMS personnel, paramedics and firefighters responding by getting to the patient’s location as quickly as possible. A preliminary evaluation would be done before the patient was taken in the ambulance to an ER doctor. This took, on average, about an hour, excluding the time spent in ER and completing records.
While this isn’t a problem if the person really does need emergency treatment, but when a patient could safely wait to see a healthcare provider either later on or the following day, they were essentially taking an ambulance out of the system for an hour.
How the ETHAN Project Works With the Panasonic Toughpad
Now Houston Fire Department’s first responders set up a videoconference between a trained emergency medical physician and the patient, using a Toughpad FZ-G1. The doctor reviews the patient’s vital signs remotely by asking questions that will enable him or her to make an informed decision of whether the ambulance needs to be sent out or not. If it isn’t necessary, the physician can assist the patient to make an appointment to see a doctor as soon as possible.
According to Gonzalez, patients and first responders are very positive about the project, and it gives staff the capability to solve the problem at the source. He said the second phase would give doctors flexibility to take calls and have videoconferences from anywhere, rather than from a fixed central location.
He said there was considerable interest from communities in other parts of the US keen to implement their own version of the ETHAN project using fire and EMS Toughpads.
Atlanta-based Mooring Tech Inc. is a trusted reseller of both new and used rugged Panasonic Toughbooks and Toughpads. Contact us to find out how we can help you.
Read more +
Any mobile device can be labeled rugged. This means that some consumer-grade devices are really just disguised as “rugged,” and are not as durable, secure, or reliable in harsh environments as truly rugged mobile devices are.
But how do you know the difference?
Rugged Tablet and Laptop Claims
In a recently published white paper titled Not All Rugged is Created Equal: Everything You Need to Know about Rugged Tablet and Laptop Claims, Panasonic unpacks the reality of rugged mobile devices available in the marketplace. The company’s reasoning is that anyone buying a device that is labeled rugged should know how durable it is and in what way.
Panasonic explains why military Toughbooks/Toughpads are justifiably labeled rugged. The white paper also explains what potential buyers of rugged devices should be asking before they buy.
Ultimately the term rugged can be both subjective and variable. So consumers need to be aware of exactly what they are getting before they buy, to ensure quality and reliability. Some pointers:
- A mobile computer built specifically for “enterprise-grade” applications that will perform in a reliable way in the harshest environment will be considerably more rugged than a consumer-grade device simply labeled as “rugged.”
- Consumers need to know what military-standard testing of mobile devices means; specifically what MIL-STD-810G tests are and what this military standard means. Without this information they won’t know for sure if the device they are looking at will provide the best technology for their particular needs.
- With tight budgets, businesses tend to place a lot of emphasis on cost, which is seen as the investment they are making. But it is more important for consumers to evaluate their total cost of ownership (TCO) that factors in all costs over the full lifespan of the device – not just what the pay for the device initially.
What Makes Fire and EMS Toughbooks Rugged?
Even though a spec sheet might indicate that a laptop computer or tablet is “Mil-Spec” doesn’t mean it has been tested according to official MIL-STD-810G tests. Some products are designed to meet Mil-Specs, but are never tested. Others may be tested for altitude, but not for drops and spills, which is a common cause of failure.
As Panasonic points out in the white paper, the US Armed Service doesn’t conduct tests or offer any form of certification for mobile devices that claim to be rugged and maintain they meet Mil-Spec standards. Rather it is up to manufacturers to guarantee or assure that the device adheres to certain standards. Furthermore, companies are able to set their own parameters for testing mobile devices. Unless manufacturers can supply verifiable data on testing, it’s impossible to know how laptops and tablets will hold up in the harshest environments when conditions are really bad.
A major difference between Panasonic and most other manufacturers is that Panasonic builds many of the critical components used in its mobile computers. The company also controls just about every part of the manufacturing process, from design of products to testing of completed items. Rugged features on devices vary according to the model; some are fully rugged, while others are semi-rugged.
Features of rugged Panasonic Toughbooks/Toughpads include:
- A magnesium alloy case that protects the device if it is bumped, knocked or dropped
- A sealed liquid crystal display (LCD) touchscreen that gives added protection against dust and moisture
- Screen film that guards against wear and tear
- A raised bezel around the screen that protects it from impact and drops
- Hinges that are fully-sealed making them water- and dust-resistant
- Environmental seals that protect ports, connectors, PC card slots and the multimedia pocket from dust and moisture
- Fanless designs that incorporate heat pipes that keep out dust and water, and reduce the weight of the device, as well as enable its use in extreme temperatures
- A hard drive heater that allows devices to be used safely in extreme cold
- A quick-release hard drive that is shock-mounted, insulating the device from drop-shock and vibration
- Flexible connectors set between the system board and hard drive that further protect against the shock of drops and bumps
- A sealed touchpad and keyboard that prevents damage in bad weather or if there are accidental spills
A full list of features can be found on spec sheets for individual models.
Critical Tests to Evaluate Whether a Device Really is Rugged
Panasonic runs its fire and EMS Toughbooks and military devices through all the MIL-STD-810G tests. These were developed by the US Department of Defense specifically to validate levels of ruggedization in various devices. Each test has extremely strict parameters that simulate what will happen if the device is used in certain environmental conditions and under various stressors. They are the:
- Transit drop test
- Blowing rain test
- Vibration test
- Altitude test
- High temperature test
- Sand and dust resistance test
- Low temperature test
- Temperature shock test
- Humidity test
Mooringtech Inc for Rugged Panasonic Toughbooks/Toughpads
Mooringtech sells new and secondhand Panasonic Toughbooks and Toughpads. Based in Atlanta, Georgia, the company offers competitive pricing and top quality backup services. Call for advice and assistance, or order online.
Read more +
Military Toughbooks/Toughpads are designed to endure the harshest conditions possible. To maintain and improve what Panasonic describes as a “tough advantage” over other mobile computers and tablets, technicians subject all new models to rigorous tests, deliberately damaging more than 1,000 devices every year.
Not only does this extreme testing ensure that Panasonic’s new mobile devices meet the company’s ultra-high quality standards, it also provides data that can help engineers further improve the reliability and durability of new designs.
Since military Toughbooks/Toughpads are designed specifically for use in the field, whether on the ground, at sea or in the air, it is imperative that these mobile computers exceed the requirements of US military standards (MIL-STD).
Just How Extreme is Extreme Testing?
All units go through at least 500 checks and tests throughout the manufacturing process. These includes extreme tests for resistance to:
- Drops and shocks
- Liquid and moisture
- Dust and other particles
- Very high and low temperatures
- Physical and atmospheric pressure
- Electromagnetic energy
- Hazardous locations
Additionally, all the keyboards incorporated in Toughbook computers are guaranteed to last for 25 million keystrokes. Hinges must last for at least 50,000 cycles.
Drops and Shocks
Under normal circumstances dropping a laptop from any height is likely to result in the LCD display breaking and possibly the hard disk failing. But Panasonic’s military Toughbooks/Toughpads are tested to make sure this doesn’t happen.
Tested in accordance with MIL-STD-810G’s transit drop test, Toughbook computers are dropped multiple times onto concrete covered with a steel plate that is covered with 2 inch-thick plywood – first 26 times from 4 feet; and then 26 times from 5 feet; the lastly 26 times from 6 feet. Units are inspected visually after each fall, and a functional boot-up is done to ensure the computer is still functional. Even though the Standard allows up to five devices to be used for the test, Panasonic uses only one of its fully rugged models for one test.
Liquid and Moisture
Most computers “die” when liquid is spilt on them. But military Toughbooks/Toughpads need to keep going, not only if there are drips and drops of water, coffee or juice, but also if they are subject to spills from oil and some chemicals.
The tests used to ensure “liquid resistance” are also done in accordance with MIL-STD-810G, and are intended to protect mobile devices from spray and “blowing rain.”
Generally fully rugged Toughbooks are tested for half an hour with simulated rainfall at 5.8 inches per hour and wind that blows at 70 mph.
Resistance to humidity requires similar features to resistance to liquid, however there are tests that focus specifically on high humid conditions.
MIL-STD-810G has an “aggravated” humidity test that is conducted over 10 days, during which the temperature varies from 86 to 140 deg F, with relative humidity that remains at 95 percent.
It isn’t only when vehicles thunder through rough terrain that mobile devices are subjected to extreme vibrations. Even factories, shops and other supposedly stationary environments suffer from vibrations of various types.
There are several different procedures that MIL-STD-810G specifies for vibration testing, and to further increase the challenge, Panasonic tests in additional MIL-STD categories. Additionally, they do voluntary testing in accordance with American Society for Testing and Materials International (ASTM) standards for vehicle vibrations.
Dust and Other Particles
The need for particle resistance is vital, because dust and dirt somehow have a way of invading every possible tiny exposed space in computers. You don’t have to throw a mobile device into sand for this to happen; it’s generally widespread airborne particles that do the damage.
For this reason all fully rugged military Toughbooks/Toughpads are tested for resistance to both sand and dust at a temperature of up to 140 deg F. Devices only pass the test if there is absolutely no blockage or bind of moving parts, and if the device doesn’t malfunction in any way at all.
Panasonic uses sand and silica flour for its “dust ingress” tests.
It isn’t only temperature that military Toughbooks/Toughpads need to be able to withstand, but also extreme swings in temperature. For this reason there is a battery of tests that mobile devices must undergo to ensure that they are heat resistant, both in terms of operation and storage. Thermal shock tests are also carried out in three different cycles, and fully rugged devices are subjected to freeze/thaw tests to ascertain performance related to rapid temperature change.
Altitude tests to ascertain the effects of atmospheric pressure are performed on all fully rugged products that are intended for mounting in vehicles. They must withstand the pressures that cargo in military aircraft would be subjected to – namely 40,000 feet. And as if this is not enough, they must also be able to withstand extreme physical pressure, particular to the casing of the devices.
All Panasonic’s military Toughbooks/Toughpads are manufactured with all-magnesium casings that are 20 times stronger than the more common ABS plastic normally used for commercial laptops and tablets. This is what protects the LCD screen, which is obviously a critical component – and an expensive one at that.
Full-rugged devices must be able to withstand at least 300 lbs of pressure.
Excessive electromagnetic energy is a common cause of disruption to the operation of electronic devices, including laptops and tablets. The only way to avoid this is to prevent possible disruptions and make sure that devices operating in the same vicinity are compatible.
Panasonic carries out electromagnetic interference (EMI) and electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) testing to overcome problems caused by electromagnetic radiation crossing the many different frequencies.
Ultimately, to ensure that military Tougbooks/Toughpads really can do the job, Panasonic tests its laptops and tablets to ensure they may be operated safely even when flammable and potentially explosive substances are present in the environment.
So if you want a military-grade laptop or tablet, you can be sure that a Panasonic Toughbook or Toughpad will meet your needs. But to find the best model for your needs might take a bit more time and effort. If this is what you are looking for, contact Mooring Tech for guidance and friendly advice.
Read more +