In the computer industry, they call them “ruggedized” laptops and tablets. They’re what spacemen and women, law enforcement officers, and those in the military use. They’re what scientists take into the field when conditions will be harsh and hazardous. But they are also popular with people in other industries including agriculture, transportation and distribution, field sales and service, even some kinds of retail and healthcare. Additionally they are popular for some recreational and extreme activities, and even for those who venture into sub-zero temperatures.
What makes rugged laptops and tablets different from regular laptops and tablets is that they can be used in any type of environment, however wet, dusty or polluted. They can resist and withstand severe temperature shock and intense vibration, even if they are dropped from relatively high levels. They are exceptionally tough and sturdy, or in a word – rugged.
Of course a rugged laptop or tablet will be more expensive than your average run-of-the-mill laptop or tablet, so is it worth investing in one for general use?
The answer to this question lies in every individual’s requirements and values. Do you need a laptop with a spill-resistant keyboard? Do you need a tablet that can be dropped by mistake? Do you need a device that will survive exposure in a rain- or snowstorm? Are you planning to go into an explosive atmosphere or extreme environment where most computer equipment would cease to operate? Maybe not, but these could be serious wants, particularly if you’ve previously spilt water or coffee on a computer keyboard or dropped one of your digital devices onto a hard surface. Another benefit is that most rugged laptops ad tablets have transflective screens that enable you to see even when using the device in bright sunlight.
So is it worth it, yes or no?
Before You Decide Check the Specs
Even if you are convinced that you do want a rugged device, the best advice is to first check the specs. In fact, that is the most sensible advice for anyone buying any type of computer device, even if it isn’t a rugged design.
Known as the original Toughbook rugged computer, Panasonic’s 1997 Toughbook is considered to be the first successful industrial-grade computer workhorse. It’s had huge praise for decades in spite of a little criticism that batteries weren’t always long lasting enough. But then the Toughbooks available today are not the same of the Toughbooks in the late last century.
As an example take the contemporary “business-rugged” Toughbook SX2 that has an exceptional battery life of up to 14.5 hours. It is ultra-lightweight and incredibly thin (33 percent thinner than previous models), and features Intel’s third-generation processor that is much faster than previous processors, particularly when it comes to graphics. It has a 720p webcam, two USB ports, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and an internal DVD super multi-drive optical drive. It is guaranteed to “survive” a drop of 30 inches (762 mm) while in operation, and the lid and base have been designed to withstand an incredible 220 lbs (100 kg) of pressure. The case is made of a light magnesium alloy that looks great and is super-light.
There are many who maintain that rugged laptops and tablets are designed for a niche market, but the niche is certainly bigger than it was before, and if you like the specs and can afford the price tag, there’s no contest.