A mobile computer is really just a tool used to help you do your work. So the cardinal rule for a user is: find the right tool for the job. A wise purchaser of a mobile computer will carefully evaluate what kind of working conditions the unit will be exposed to and then dive into product specifications to find a unit that is rugged enough in the right categories to hold up under these conditions. It is also probably a good idea to select a unit which is a little more rugged than you actually need. It is far better to be too rugged than not rugged enough, and you may at some point encounter conditions more severe than you originally predicted.


The level of rugged is best defined by its environmental specifications, and the 3 most common and useful specifications are:

  • Temperature range
  • MIL-STD-810G  (formerly MIL-STD-810-F)
  • IP

These specifications are almost always listed on the product data sheet.

The temperature spec defines the operational temperature range of the unit. Working with a unit above or below this spec may cause the unit to fail.

MIL-STD-810G  is a standard issued by the United States Army’s Developmental Test Command. The standard consists of a series of various environmental tests to prove that equipment qualified to the standard will survive in the field. They were designed specifically to test military equipment, but are now used to test a wide range of both military and civilian products, including mobile computers.

IP stands for Ingress Protection, and an IP rating is used to specify the level of environmental protection of electrical equipment against solids and liquids. In other words, it tells us what amount of size of solids or liquids can get inside the enclosure and possibly damage the device. It is defined by international standard IEC 60529.

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