What defines a military-grade rugged tablet?

Laptops used by everyday consumers rest in relatively benign environments, indoors at room temperature, and are rarely, if ever exposed to harsh weather like rain or snow. Military laptop users face much more extreme environments than the average desktop user and need a laptop that can perform in harsh conditions. Warfighters also need mobile computing that can work basically in the middle of nowhere, that maintain connectivity in remote locations.

The better the technology the soldier, airman, marine, or sailor has in the field the better their decision making and effectiveness.

Unfortunately, you can’t get all those attributes from a local electronics store or from Amazon.com. So how do you equip your military personnel with the right tools? When choosing the most suitable military-grade tablet you must first consider some key features, including compliance with military standards, IP Rating, environmental compatibility, sunlight readability, and connectivity.

MIL-STD complianceRugged tablets for military applications must endure falls of several feet, water exposure, and glaring sunlight while maintaining performance. There are various military specifications these must meet to ensure end users they can survive in these environments. Make sure that the devices have been tested according to MIL-STD 810-G requirements against extreme environmental conditions – temperature, shock, vibration, and humidity. One more standard to follow is MIL-STD 461F to ensure that the product meets the requirements for the control of electromagnetic interference (EMI). Ask your vendor which method were used to test the device, then after you receive a test report from the manufacturer do not forget to do your own testing.

IP rating

Ingress Protection (IP) rating or IEC standard 60529 is an essential part of any rugged device, measuring the device’s level of protection against particles and liquid. Generally, the higher the score, the better the protection. If a device claimed to be military-grade it should have IP protection. The choice of whether IP65 or IP67 is depending on the needs of your application.

Compatibility with existing military environments

The MIL-STD-38999 type circular connectors, also called military standard connectors that withstand the extreme shock, exposure, and vibration are commonplace in defense and commercial applications are typically used in harsh military and aerospace environments. For smooth integration into existing military environments rugged military grade tablets should have military-qualified MIL-STD-38999 connectors with exceptional versatility for LAN/ USB 2.0, RS-232/ RS-422 and DC power input to enable effortless connection to military equipment.

Sunlight readability
Military mobile devices typically will be used outdoors where bright sunlight is a fact of life. There are a few technologies that increase the quality of the LCD panel, making it more sunlight readable. The first one is an anti-glare solution on tablet glass that helps diffuse the glaring light, reducing its intensity. This makes it easier for the observer to see the correct image and provide perfect readability at extreme viewing angles. Another sunlight readability feature to look for when choosing a touch-screen computer is optical bonding. The screen with optical bonding technology usually results in higher brightness, better clarity, and resistance to scratches.

Wireless connectivity

Real-time data access to the right information is critical for mission-critical and battlefield operations. Having strong wireless connectivity onboard military-grade rugged tablets enables the warfighter to take advantage of fast and accurate GPS with outstanding horizontal position accuracy. Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and optional 3G or 4G LTE connectivity also enable the user to have robust communications anytime and anywhere.

Summary

These are just a few distinguishing features that military ruggedized devices have over consumer and industrial-grade solutions. While military rugged systems may cost more, their robust, highly reliable designs and features guarantees longer a life-time for the product, which results in a lower total cost of ownership (TCO).

Tablet computers offer a new generation of convenience for military personnel, but not all of the devices available on the market are suitable for such a demanding environment. Companies such as Winmate, help end users navigate this process so they make the choice with right safety, longevity, and functionality. Make your choice carefully.