Testing Rugged

Rugged Computer: More Than Just A “Strong Case”

What defines a great rugged computer?

This has been a question that sometimes, even professionals cannot answer. Most of the time this is due to the advancement in technology and more specifically, how the aspect of ruggedness is validated. From IP ratings to MIL-STD-810G and other specifications – it takes more aspects to understand and choose the best rugged mobile computer tailored to your needs.

Rugged Or Ruggedized: What’s The Difference

You may – or you may not know about the ‘ruggedized’ computers and how they sometimes even make professionals question their quality. But what is a ‘ruggedized’ mobile computer?

Well, the main difference between rugged and ruggedized computers, tablets or smartphones -is actually the quality of the build. While a ‘ruggedized’ computer partially protects the internal components, a true rugged computer is designed to completely protect the device in every condition, environment or crash.

In reality, durable mobile computers have been popular over the last years. Their demand has been on the rise as well – making a lot of mainstream devices advertised as rugged because of their features. The water resistance, tough covers etcetera can all be protective features – but they cannot even compare to the full protection a rugged device brings. While they might be waterproof and/or minimal shockproof, they are still ‘ruggedized’ – failing to withstand vibrations or strong shocks, extreme temperatures and conditions.

Rugged Testing: How To Know A Tablet Is Rugged – And Not Ruggedized?

Every computer, tablet or phone can get the ‘rugged’ official label once it undergoes various tests for ruggedness. Over the past few years, the industry has certified ruggedness with the following test methods:

The MIL-STD tests, which represent a military standard for equipment according to the United States military. These tests are done within 24 hours and see if the device can handle low pressure, high altitudes, exposure to extremely high and low temperatures, temperature shocks, differences in humidity, leakage, sand and dust exposure, vibration, shock etc.

The Ingress Protection Scale, which is a measure for protection specifically against dust and liquids. These ratings are displayed as two-digit numbers, where the first digit features the protection against dust and the second one reflects to the protection against the liquids the device can withstand. The IP65 rating is the optimal level that ensures a complete protection against dust and water.

The following testing standards are oriented to the ability of a device to survive against the toughest conditions and environments in the world. As a part of the two previously mentioned, the most important tests for ruggedness against individual environmental factors include:

Drop And Shock Testing, where eight different test procedures are conducted. The ‘transit drop test’ is a major one, and sees if a device is able to survive 26 drops from a 122-cm fall – on each of its sides, corners and faces.

Liquid-Resistance Testing, where a device is tested on its liquidness resistance with water jets streamed into it from different directions and varying in terms of water volume, test duration and pressure.

Vibration Testing, where rugged devices are stuck on vehicles or are carried by a person. There are variations in vibrations, frequency and intensity depending on the environment that is being simulated and the type of device tested.

Sand and Dust Testing, where the dust-resistance procedures test the rugged device and see if it allows dust to enter into its components. High wind speeds and high temperatures are made for this test.

Extreme Temperature Testing, which is the ultimate rugged device testing against high and low temperatures – exposing it to heat and cold. During the testing, the rugged computer is turned on and used, turned off and set to the normal operational temperatures to see if it withstands everything without a problem.

Humidity Testing, which tests the rugged device against tropical heat and humidity that is over 90 percent for several days, seeing if the mobile computer can withstand high humidity despite being liquid resistant.

Building A Rugged Computer

Do you know how rugged tablets, phones and computers are made? How do the manufacturers create them to pass these tests and the MIL-STD and IP ratings for rugged devices?

We are listing the secrets:

  • Rugged computers have no moving parts inside of their components like fans, rotating hard drives etc. Instead of these components, they contain solid-state drives which are components that have no moving mechanical components. Since the extreme conditions most likely attack moving components, rugged devices overcome them and prove their quality.
  • Every rugged device contains a stiffener. This is a part made of aluminum and makes sure to prevent inside components from flexing when an impact occurs. This is the secret to their strength and the answer why the outer shell and bumpers are able to survive attacks and shocks and prevent any form of damage.
  • The most delicate part of normal tablets and phones is their touchscreen – and the one that can be easily damaged. However, rugged tablets utilize a strengthened touchscreen that prevents scratches and cracks but still can be operated. Also, this screen can be positioned lower than the surrounding case, making the rugged device ultra protective.
  • Rugged devices utilize a display backlight in order to improve their outdoor function – especially in illuminated spaces with direct sunlight.
  • Some of the rugged computers and devices have internal heaters that help their operation in extremely cold environments. The heater function by warming the operating level and eliminates any possible condensation.

A Final Word

In the end, rugged computers represent the most protective form of technology nowadays. They are developed and chosen to be as protective as possible – with every single detail. The standards and tests for ruggedness are the best ways to show the performance of a rugged computer, mobile phone or tablet that is made to suit the particular needs of every customer.

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