The lowdown on rugged notebooks or tablets

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What are they? Rugged notebooks or tablets are designed to work under the most demanding environmental conditions, ranging from warfighting for the military and heavy industrial uses to work within specific industries, such as law enforcement, forestry, health care and mining.

Do they cost much? That depends. For a fully rugged unit with a fast CPU and plenty of options, expect to pay about twice what you'd pay for a comparably equipped commercial unit. However, some manufacturers, such as Group Mobile LLC, Panasonic Corp. and Twinhead Corp., have entered the semirugged notebook market with well-priced units starting around $1,500. Nowhere is the old adage 'You get what you pay for' more true than in the rugged portable PC market.

Must-know info? The more rugged the unit you are looking for, the more critical it is to read the specifications very carefully, especially the parts relating to MIL-STD 810E/F or IP standards compliance. After all, if you want all the costly protections offered by rugged testing procedures, it is up to you to determine if they are relevant to your particular application.

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