Best in Breed Technology: Today’s “Rugged” Computing Means Performance—Not Just Taking a Lick

Everyone’s had a day at the office when they wanted to knock their computer off their desk, but for field workers in a growing number of industries it’s actually the “office” that knocks their computer down…or keeps it in arid or frigid conditions…or blasts it with water, sand and dust.
In the military, manufacturing, public safety and a growing number of other industries, computing needs are rapidly extending beyond the office and into deserts, mountain ranges and everywhere in between. The need for real computing power in rough conditions is driving demand for rugged devices. “Fully rugged” devices are built to withstand MIL-STD-810G standards—and often beyond—to assess the viability of equipment in harsh environments. But just because rugged devices can survive a drop doesn’t mean they’re all made equal under the hood. The customers that employ rugged notebooks are often depending on them for mission-critical tasks, located hours or even days away from the office. With important projects, new business and human lives often hanging in the balance, there are performance factors beyond durability that users should demand of their ruggedized devices.
Accessibility & Performance in the Field
To perform job-critical work away from the infrastructure comforts of the office, users need access to productivity features on their rugged device—which can be very specific for field workers. Those logging work hours outdoors, for example, require screens that are impact-resistant and designed to maintain viewability under heavy glare from the sun. Many applications leveraged by field workers depend on touch-screens and hand gestures; a best-in-breed ruggedized device should have a touch resistant screen that allows users to leverage touch features without having to remove gloves every time they open an app. Another priority for the actively mobile field worker is portability. Rugged devices tend to weigh a fair amount, which has led to a recent growth in ruggedized tablets. However, tablets can severely hinder job functions that demand keyboard use. A ruggedized convertible is an elegant solution for field workers that need lighter packs but cannot sacrifice any computing productivity for their job.
Productivity in the field also requires connectivity, but access to a fast network is worthless if the local device lacks sufficient capacity and processing speed. This is especially relevant for jobs that rely on apps to handle data-heavy graphics and high-definition video, as well as increasingly popular virtual desktops. Furthermore, rugged notebook users should expect all the wireless capabilities and I/O options they would require to fulfill their job duties in a traditional office.
Today’s field worker requires complex computing for a number of job functions—from loading and developing detailed mapping images to sending large files back to the office. While it’s important for rugged devices to withstand harsh conditions, accessibility and top-of-the-line computing power are just as paramount to ensure steady productivity in the field. The bottom line in today’s market is that users should demand the same computing power from their rugged notebook as they would from an elite, enterprise notebook—the work being done is just as important.
Written by Drew Moore, Executive Director and General Manager, Dell Rugged Mobility Products
Drew is the Executive Director and General Manager for Dell’s Rugged Mobility Product line, with cradle to grave responsibility for the development, marketing, service and customer experience of these products designed to thrive in the harshest of work environments. Learn more at
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