by Paul Mah

7 rugged gadgets for harsh conditions

Aug 10, 2015
Consumer ElectronicsGadgetsMobile

From laptops to tablets to smartphones to flash drives, an increasing number of devices are designed to withstand extreme conditions.

Extreme usage requires extreme gadgets.

Do you work in harsh environments that are dusty or wet, or often take part in extreme activities? Or perhaps you’re prone to dropping, knocking or spilling on your electronics? Whether you have an extreme job or lifestyle that still demands the use of high tech gear or you’re simply clumsy, a growing list of consumer devices today are fortunately designed with military-grade toughness in mind.

The fully rugged laptop

Panasonic Toughbook 31

The Panasonic Toughbook 31 is the benchmark to beat when it comes to tough laptops. The fully rugged Windows laptop offers drop shock protection courtesy of its full magnesium alloy chassis. MIL-STD-810G and IP65 certification means that the Toughbook 31 is built to shrug mere inconveniences such as nuisances like rain, heat and vibration. 

Under the hood, the Toughbook 31 is no slouch in performance either, with an Intel i5 processor at 2.3GHz and option for up to 16GB of RAM, backed by a substantial number of interface options. Its 13.1-inch XGA screen comes with a sunlight viewable 1200 nit touchscreen, while its battery allows 18 hours of performance by default, or up to 27 hours with optional second battery. 

Price: $3,434.99

The survivalist tablet

Getac F110 tablet

If you need a tablet that can survive just about any environment you can throw it at, then the Getac F110 tablet is probably just what the general ordered. The Windows-powered tablet is certified to MIL-STD 810G, IP65 and MIL-STD-461F U.S. military standards, and will operate in temperatures ranging from -6°F to 140°F (-21°C to 60°C). And to set your mind at ease, it is backed by a three-year bumper-to-bumper warranty that includes accidental damage. 

The Getac F110 packs beefy specifications, too, packing 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.0, optional 4G LTE and GPS. Not to mention an expansion slot that can be customized with a Gigabit Ethernet port or MicroSD slot, among others. Its 11.6-inch screen is sensitive to touch even when wearing a glove, while two hot-swappable batteries offer the potential for uninterrupted battery life. 

Price: $1,903.99

The uncrushable smartphone

Sonim XP7

The Sonim XP7 is best defined as an “ultra-rugged” LTE Android smartphone that is built to withstand being driven over by a heavy-duty truck. That’s right, a truck! Tested against a dozen chemicals and oils, the smartphone is also rated completely dust proof (IP-6X) and waterproof in both fresh and salt water at a depth of 6.5 feet for up to 30 minutes. 

Powered by a 1.2GHz quad core processor and running on Android 4.4 Kit Kat, it has reasonable specs, such as a 4-inch display and an 8MP autofocus rear camera. Its built-in speakers are able to pump out sound at up to 103 dB however, while its touch screen can be viewed in direct sunlight and easily used with dirty or wet work gloves. 

Price: $750

The full metal portable drive

ioSafe Rugged Portable SSD

The ioSafe Rugged Portable SSD is wrapped in a full metal jacket – which is what you need to protect data from drops and the extreme environments. The ioSafe Rugged Portable SSD can resist crush forces of up to 2,500 pounds of force for the aluminum version, or up to 5,000 pounds of force for the titanium version. 

Its maker say that the speedy USB 3.0 portable storage drive is safe from water at a depth of 30 feet for three days. Importantly, internal tests of its toughness include full immersion in diesel fuel, oils, hydraulic fluids and aircraft fuels, as well as continuous exposure to UV, blowing sand and dust, rain and salt fog. 

Price: $649.99

The tough flash drive

Corsair Flash Survivor

If you don’t need too much capacity (or simply prefer something smaller), the Corsair Flash Survivor can help keep your data safe. The anodized, aircraft-grade aluminum housing is tough, vibration- and shock-resistant, and is waterproof to 200 meters. Due to the sheer speed of its USB 3.0 interface, you can also access large files, such as video, directly from the drive without experiencing lag. 

Price: $44.99

The waterproof speaker

UE Megaboom

Looking to crank some music as you luxuriate at the beach, or perhaps you just want some tunes at the worksite? The UE Megaboom is a portable Bluetooth speaker rated to IPX7 waterproof standards, and is shockproof to boot. Its bold design and color options aside, the UE Megaboom stands out for its excellent sound reproduction and 20-hours of battery life. Of course, its 100-foot Bluetooth wireless range and customizable five-band equalizer helps, too. 

Price: $269.99

The all-weather video camera

GoPro Hero4 Black

If you’re looking for a rugged video camera, consider the GoPro Hero4 Black. Waterproof to 131 feet with the default case, you can increase it to 197 feet with the GoPro Dive Housing. If being crushproof is more important to you, though, you can also opt for a variety of third-party casings such as the metal GoTouch Sharkcage. Equipped with both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, the Hero4 Black allows you to record at the ultra-high resolution of 4K and 30 frames per second (FPS). 

Price: $499.99