Rugged Computers, also known as hardened computers, and ruggedized computers have been around since the late 1970s / early 1980s, so they basically have been around as long as the PC industry itself. It was quickly discovered and understood that commercial-grade PCs, designed for office workers or even highly-mobile, white-collar workers and frequent flyers, would not hold up in an in-field, in-vehicle, outdoor, or warehouse/factory type of environment. Rugged technology has been developed to allow what is a fairly delicate piece of sophisticated electronics, to be able to function and survive while on-the-go, in the field, and even in tough environmental conditions. Rugged computers have proven time and time again to save end users and organizations large amounts of money, time, and grief due to their durability, reliability, longevity, and 3- to 5-year full warranties.
Countless studies have shown that rugged and mobile computers cost less to own, even though their initial price is higher. Not to mention, the headache-avoidance factor associated with fewer repairs and less equipment failure is incalculable. Rugged devices are absolutely essential in today's mobile computing environment. Public safety, field service, construction, healthcare, natural resource-related, military, field work and exploration, public and private utilities, building and home inspection, geospatial, aviation, marine, distribution and warehousing, transportation… the list goes on and on of the industries and fields of endeavor that are able to take advantage of computer automation and the subsequent productivity gains as a result of the availability of rugged and ruggedized computers.
Rugged Computers have features like magnesium or aluminum casings, shock-mounted disk drives or solid state drives, waterproof and backlit keyboards, and hardened sunlight-readable displays. Some rugged computers are able to withstand a 6-foot drop on to concrete or even submersion in water. These days, all form factors of computers have been ruggedized including laptops/notebooks, tablets, and handhelds/smartphones.
This guide will teach you about the different types of rugged computers and the features that make them different from conventional, commercial-grade computers; as well as other considerations such as vehicle docking and mounting, integrated wireless and cellular broadband, GPS, cameras, bar code scanners, backlit keyboards and other capabilities that are often mandatory in mobile or outdoor computing.