Rugged vs Consumer Devices

There are many ways to determine the difference between rugged consumer and to work out which would be best for your company. When a device that is described as “rugged”, what does that actually mean? Of course it means it can take more punishment than a consumer device, but how?



The Ingress Protection (IP) rating system is an internationally recognised rating that relates to proven protection against environmental factors such as liquids and solids. The IP rating of a device is identified by the letters I and P, followed by two numbers. The first number refers to the amount of protection a scale or indicator enclosure has against solid matter, such as dust, while the second number defines the level of protection against liquids. Therefore, the larger each number is, the greater the protection is has. The greatest IP rating is IP68, such as the Trimble Nomad.



MIL-STD-810G is another test which devices can undergo to test their durability. The MIL-STD-810G tests cover a wide range of environments, from high altitude to shock, therefore, if you are working in 10,000 ft of elevation, make sure that the device has been tested to the MIL-STD method that covers this, or if you are going to be working in changing temperature, ensure that the device has been tested for temperature shock.

Price is another deciding factor. Consumer devices are often chosen over rugged ones as they are considerably less expensive. Rugged devices are designed to be rugged from the inside out, they are built to withstand the demands of a truly mobile workforce and to give you peace of mind.

The Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) is an estimate intended to help determine the direct and indirect costs of a device. As rugged devices are designed to last much longer than consumer ones, especially if used in hazardous environments, the TCO is significantly better than consumer grade devices. Tangible costs, such as purchase price and installation costs are considered when working out the Total Cost of Ownership, as well as intangible costs, such as lost sales, data loss and customer satisfaction.  One significant intangible cost is the percentage of time you will be without your device while it is being serviced if broken. If a device is being used in a hazardous or extreme environment then consumer grade devices are more likely to break than rugged ones. Therefore, yes consumer devices are often cheaper, but they have a higher chance of breaking, and will cost more to repair or replace.

Rugged devices excel in areas where consumer phones don’t, with longer battery life, increased processor speeds, larger memory and advanced screen technologies such as Gorilla Glass – all designed for challenging working environments.

Rugged devices are flexible often with many different specifications available, allowing users to choose a device that is specific to their requirement. A consumer device tends to have the basics, such as 3G, a camera, large display and numerous different operating systems including iOS, Android, Windows Mobile.  In ideal conditions, a consumer

Yuma 2 - Copysmartphone GPS chip will deliver around 3 meters, however, many field workers rely upon GPS. Trimble’s Yuma 2 tablet has 1-2metre GPS accuracy even in multipath environments, providing the user with the reliability they require.

Therefore, rugged devices are more suited to extreme environments where a device is needed to withstand extreme temperatures or where the user needs to read the screen in direct sunlight. Consumer devices are better suited for personal, basic use, such as making and receiving calls.



We are a specialist, value added distributor of mobile computing and data capture products. Underpinning all that we do is an understanding that our customers deserve outstandingly executed basic distribution services.

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Posted in Dec 2013

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