Rugged mobile computers not only extend office efficiency to the field, but another benefit of rugged tablets and handhelds is that they bring low total-cost-of-ownership (TCO) and fast ROI to your bottom line.

Even professional users of rugged tablets and rugged handhelds are sometimes unsure of what defines a “rugged computer,” which tests validate ruggedness and how these tests are carried out. Let us tell you about IP ratings, MIL-STD-810G and other rugged specifications. Understanding rugged specs is the key to choosing the right rugged mobile computer for your situation.

A truly rugged computer is much more than just a normal computer wrapped in a tough outer case. Consider the difference between a “rugged” computer and a “ruggedized” computer (or tablet or smartphone). The term “ruggedized” gives the sense that fragile internal components have been somehow protected — but a truly rugged computer is designed from the inside out to operate reliably in very harsh environments and conditions.
Tough and durable mobile computers and smartphones are gaining in demand and popularity. Some mainstream devices are advertised as rugged because of features such as water resistance, but these devices are ruggedized, not truly rugged. They might be waterproof, but they lack other aspects of ruggedness, such as the ability to withstand vibrations or shocks and to function well in extreme temperatures.

How do manufacturers make rugged mobile devices that can pass these tests and earn high MIL-STD and IP ratings?
Here are a few ways: Unlike normal computers, most rugged computers have no moving parts inside, such as fans or rotating hard drives. Instead of rotating hard drives, rugged computers have solid-state drives — drives without moving mechanical components — that are more resistant to physical shock.
Rugged computers contain stiffeners, often made out of aluminium, to prevent inside components and boards from flexing during an impact. The outer shell (case) and bumpers are designed to absorb the energy from a drop to prevent internal damage.
The touchscreen on a normal smartphone or computer is basically glass with a coating to make it sensitive to touch. Rugged computers have displays that use chemically strengthened glass to prevent against scratches and cracks. The displays can also be positioned lower than the surrounding cases to decrease their vulnerability.

If you want a rugged computer, don’t buy a ruggedized computer.
Some rugged computers are fitted with internal heaters in order to operate successfully in very cold environments. The heater warms components to an acceptable operating level and eliminates condensation that arises from temperature shifts.

In short, every single detail and small part of a truly rugged computer is researched, developed and chosen to make the computer as rugged as possible.
With a deeper understanding of the standards and tests for ruggedness, you’ll be better equipped to choose the rugged mobile computer, tablet or smartphone that suits your unique needs.
If you want a rugged computer, don’t buy a ruggedized computer. Rugged computers are built — inside and out — to be rugged. No fragile parts wrapped in a hard shell here.