Origin and development
Rugged tablets have existed for 20 years
What is a rugged tablet? Historically they are hardened industrial devices meeting specific needs in terms of ruggedness and protection against their environment
Like each industrial product, components were chosen to stand the test of time. Some models have been in operation for over a decade
Today, as the market has been driven by consumer products, rugged products inherited some of the advantages and disadvantages of being mainstream:
Advantages: enhanced connectivity, more features, improved performance, acquisition cost reduction
Disadvantages: you can now find rugged products at any price which means that the efforts realised on failure rates (choice of components) is not compulsory any more. It influences end user into thinking that a rugged tablet and a consumer tablet with a rugged case are approximately the same. This ends up in overspending and productivity losses.
Several features are common to all rugged tablets no matter the product being top range or entry level:
Ingress rating IP composed of two digits and representing water and dust protection
MIL STD classification (most of the time) that indicates that environmental resistance testing has been performed on the device (vibration, pressure, thermal shock, etc). This part involves drop test resistance from different heights and on different type of ground (for example, 1m20 drop on plywood, or 2m10 drop on concrete)
Other physical elements can complete the ruggedness: Gorilla Glass on the LCD, double chassis, better quality materials, enhanced thermal dissipation… The more characteristics, the higher the range of the product.
Other certifications can also completer the way tablets can adapt to specific environment: ATEX/C1D2 for explosives atmospheres, IEC60601 respect of electrical standards in medical environment, etc.
IP Standard Framework
The IP Code, International Protection Marking IEC standard 60529, sometimes interpreted as Ingress Protection Marking, classifies and rates the degree of protection provided against intrusion (body parts such as hands and fingers), dust, accidental contact, and water by mechanical casings and electrical enclosures. It is published by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). The equivalent European standard is EN 60529.
The standard aims to provide users more detailed information than vague marketing terms such as waterproof. The IP rating shows two digits: the first one represents protection against penetration of foreign solid bodies and the operator’s safety. The second figure indicates the protection against fluid penetration with harmful effects.
MIL-STD-810 is a flexible standard that allows users to tailor test methods to fit the application. As a result, a vendor’s claims of “…compliance to MIL-STD-810…” can be misleading.
Because no commercial organization or agency certifies compliance, commercial vendors can create the test methods or approaches to fit their product. Suppliers can—and some do—take significant latitude with how they test their products, and how they report the test results. Using only one or two testing methods some can give the impression to propose the same standard as competitors that would have used more testing methods. It’s the “military standard illusion”.
- It will thus be necessary to check that the testing methodology was applied and, if the tests were properly made. It is necessary to verify:
- Which methods of the standard have been used for testing;
- Which are the limits and parameters of the real test;
- If certification was given internally (by the manufacturer himself) or externally by an independent entity.