The modern world is growing increasingly dependent on electronics. An average human feels a need to be connected to the internet, and thus the rest of the world. However, the consumer electronics available today won’t guarantee that connection once you step outside the rather narrow boundaries of performance. If you want to stay connected in scenarios where consumer-grade stuff simply doesn’t cut it, you’ll need durable electronics.
Electronics that Meet the Requirements
Shopping for a new phone, or a new computer can be a chore these days. Each of these gadgets exists in a wide range of flavors — each one aimed at a slightly different group of people. As far as electronics go, there are consumer devices that boast various levels of protection. You’ll often see phones and computers that boast IP-rating, thus giving off an impression that you can take these devices to hell and back with zero issues.
As it turns out, most of the consumer devices that fit this description aren’t up to the task. Many of them are more durable than the average run-of-the-mill device but are falling short when exposed to actual adverse conditions.
Usually when something is “military-grade”, it can mean two things — either it’s the cheapest thing the government could find, or it’s the most robust piece of equipment you’ll run into on the market. Generally speaking, electronics and computer devices fall into the latter category.
Modern militaries are very strict regarding the standards of quality, durability, and security when certain pieces of technology are in question. Military electronics are often over-engineered, thus guaranteeing plenty of headroom in terms of performance but also durability.
Computers are built to withstand terrible battlefield conditions, including exposure to dust, water, low/high temperatures, chemicals, kinetic shock, and more. Military LCD displays are miles ahead of their civilian counterparts. Not only are they more durable, but these displays are developed to function in non-permissive environments where your ability to read data off said display can mean the difference between mission success or failure, life or death.
The best thing about rugged military electronics is that you too can enjoy its benefits. There are many brands that make awesome ruggedized electronics for military and heavy industrial applications. While you won’t be able to find a device that has all the security features that a military unit has, you’ll still be able to enjoy most of the hardware benefits of such systems.
Levels of Protection
There are several reasons why consumer electronics don’t often work in military or industrial environments. For one, having an IP rating doesn’t necessarily mean that your device is capable of being exposed to the environment for prolonged periods of time. IP ratings only address a device’s ability to prevent dust and water ingress under very specific conditions.
Making a computer truly rugged means going a step further. Here’s a good example of a problem that demonstrates the importance of military-grade electronics — how do you create a computer that has to operate in rough environments without overheating? Even the most modern laptops with low overall TDPs will start to heat up when pushed to their limits. Cooling is a non-factor for most consumer-grade electronics, but it becomes an issue when you have to seal a device in order to prevent ingress of debris.
Rugged electronics solve these issues through custom, proprietary solutions. The result is a device that can take a serious beating without skipping a beat.
Ingress Protection VS US-MIL-810G
Consumer-grade electronics are usually rated on the Ingress Protection scale or IP scale for short. While IP levels of protection are more than decent, the US-MIL-810G standard goes several steps further and is the rating system of choice for ruggedized military electronics.
The former is capable of telling you two things — how resistant a device is to solid debris ingress, and how capable it is of resisting water ingress. On the other hand, US-MIL-810G can tell you whether your device can be exposed to salt fog? Where did salt fog come from? It’s a major issue for maritime operations where electronics are exposed to literal salt fog. Without proper protection, salt will penetrate the device and cause all kinds of physical damage.
There are also standards for temperature shock, pressure, explosive atmosphere, acoustic noise, and a whole slew of other test methods that are relevant to military and industrial applications.
This depends on your needs. It’s no secret that these systems are expensive compared to your regular laptop, but they also bring a tonne of protection. If you’re looking for a device that will work in the toughest conditions you can think of, get a ruggedized device. If you’re just looking for something to occasionally browse the internet on, you’re wasting money by investing in rugged electronics.