Business buyers confused by “rugged” mobile computing terminology, says Panasonic

Buyers of rugged mobile computing devices are confused by the terminology describing just how tough their notebooks, tablets and handheld devices are, according to new research from Panasonic.

The independent research of 250 UK mobile technology buyers, conducted by Opinion Matters and commissioned by Panasonic, found that 85% believe standards for ruggedness are already in place – and yet none exist.

The report shows that the language being used by manufacturers of business and consumer devices is confusing the marketplace. 88% of business buyers said the ruggedness of their notebooks, tablets and handheld devices was very or fairly important to them when considering new purchases for their workforce. Many recognised common rugged terms but when it came to proving their understanding of these terms, the report said that “the majority failed miserably”.

Less than half of buyers were aware of Ingress Protection (IP) Ratings and two-thirds were unable to correctly identify that the rating was for protection against particles and liquid and the higher the rating the better the protection.

69% of buyers believed or expected the terms “MIL-STD compliant” and “tested to MIL-STD” to be a consistent measurement – when they are not.

Buyers were wildly confused by what was covered in the commonly quoted US Military Standard 810G, with more than 35% of respondents incorrectly believing it applied to battery life. In reality, MIL-STD-810 is a series of lab tests designed by the U.S military to test equipment limits in various environmental conditions where it is expected to be used. There are a wide range of conditions covered by the standard but common commercial tests include exposing the device to shock or drop, dust, water and extreme temperatures.

To add to the risk, 20% of buyers confirmed that they do not undertake any tests of their own when buying devices and simply believe the manufacturers’ claims.

“Buyers must be beware. With an increasing number of manufacturers adding a wide range of rugged sounding names and classifications to their products, it is very easy to buy an inappropriate product for a mobile workforce. This can be a very costly mistake for the business and also be very frustrating and demotivating for the workforce,” said Jan Kaempfer, general manager of Marketing for Panasonic Computer Product Solutions.

“Just because a mobile device has an IP Rating or a Military Standard compliant logo or claims to be water or drop proof, does not mean it is fit for purpose. I would recommend all buyers examine these claims very closely; ask to see test details and certificates. Examine whether the testing was undertaken independently or even under laboratory conditions and then test the products themselves, in the field, with a thorough pilot evaluation before buying.”

To help buyers with their rugged device purchases, Panasonic has published the Rugged Confusion whitepaper, along with the following tips to ensure buyers get the right device for their workforce.

Always ask your vendor:

– To supply MIL-STD810G and IP certificates to support any testing or standards claims.
– How their products are engineered to offer light weight without compromising ruggedness or durability.
– If the Military Standard tests have been carried out on one single unit or if they used multiple units to fulfil the tests.
– Which display options their devices support.
– For a device with a high capacity battery option and exchangeable design to improve TCO and ROI.
– Which ports and interfaces are included in the main unit without adapter cables.
– How they support seamless data transfer and the latest connectivity standards.
– How they optimise power management on their devices.

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