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Rugged Testing

Rugged Laptop Protection Against Drops, Rain, Sand and Fog

A laptop that can stand up to things a regular notebook computer couldn't handle is a necessity in many industries. Often the laptops are used outdoors in extreme heat or cold or in rainy, snowy or foggy conditions. Just transporting an ordinary laptop to some areas, with the jostling, the risk of dropping and the moisture can be risky.

When you're in the market for a truly rugged laptop, how do you judge which one might be right for you? Panasonic is a top manufacturer of rugged laptops, ranging from business rugged to those designed for the harshest conditions. Which is the best for your situation? Rugged laptops can have a variety of certifications that let you know which conditions they can handle.

What Certifications Mean: MIL-STD-810G

The Panasonic Toughbook 31 is classified fully rugged. It carries the certification of MIL-STD-810G (which is also sometimes expressed as MIL-STD-810F). This is a United States Department of Defense testing standard that measures the equipment's ability to stand up to a variety of conditions.

Within this certification there are some categories, as well, that can help you decide which rugged laptop might be best. A few of the most common tests are against rain, salt fog, sand and dust, and drops. The MIL-STD-810G Method 506.4 is a set of 3 tests with water which include tests for blowing rain, constant spray for at least 40 minutes and dripping water. Method 509.4 exposes the equipment to a salt fog mist to see if it can withstand this very damaging type of fog.

Method 510.4 tests the equipment against sand and dust. The three specific tests are done with blowing dust, blowing sand and then dust that's allowed to settle on the equipment to see if it clogs vents or overheats the laptop. The last common test is to see if the equipment can withstand being dropped, which is Method 516.5. The laptops are put through tests that require 26 drops that affect each surface of the equipment, as well as separate tests against shocks and fragility. The actual tests came about to test the items against drops in packaging and shipping, but serve as a good test of how much impact the laptop can handle.

Other Types of Common Tests

There are a number of other tests that may be done to rugged laptops under this certification. Tests against things like temperature extremes, sunlight, high altitude, immersion, vibration, (including different types of vibration like that from gunfire or that produced by loud noise), ballistic shock and other conditions are commonly performed. Unless the description of the rugged laptop says specifically which tests were done, you'll have no way of knowing which it passed, however. The more specific tests a laptop lists, the hardier it will probably be.

The more tests the rugged laptop has passed, the more expensive it will probably be, too. That's why the certification is important. Not only will you be able to get a piece of equipment that can stand up to the environment it will be in, you can avoid over-purchasing. A traveling business person who must pull out a laptop to enter information about insurance-covered damage, for instance, won't need a laptop that can handle immersion and the vibration of gunfire, so a less expensive laptop may be a better choice than the most expensive, hardiest one available.