Panasonic warns rugged mobile computing device buyers to check manufacturers’ claims

Buyers of rugged mobile computing devices are confused by the terminology describing just how tough their notebooks, tablets and handheld devices are. New research reports 85% of business buyers of mobile computing devices to believe standards for ruggedness are already in place – yet none exist.

The independent research of 250 UK mobile technology buyers, conducted by Opinion Matters and commissioned by Panasonic, shows that the language being used by manufacturers of business and consumer devices is confusing the marketplace.

88% of business buyers said the ruggedness of their notebooks, tablets and handheld devices was very or fairly important to them when considering new purchases for their workforce. Many recognised common rugged terms but when it came to proving their understanding of these terms, the majority failed miserably.

Compliance & conditions

Less than half of buyers were aware of Ingress Protection (IP) Ratings and two-thirds were unable to correctly identify that the rating was for protection against particles and liquid and the higher the rating the better the protection.

69% of buyers believed or expected the terms “MIL-STD compliant” and “tested to MIL-STD” to be a consistent measurement – when they are not.

Buyers were wildly confused by what was covered in the commonly quoted US Military Standard 810G, with more than 35% of respondents incorrectly believing it applied to battery life. In reality, MIL-STD-810 is a series of lab tests designed by the U.S military to test equipment limits in various environmental conditions where it is expected to be used.

There is a wide range of conditions covered by the standard but common commercial tests include exposing the device to shock or drop, dust, water and extreme temperatures.

The mobile workforce

To add to the risk, 20% of buyers confirmed that they do not undertake any tests of their own when buying devices and simply believe the manufacturers’ claims.

“Buyers must be beware. With an increasing number of manufacturers adding a wide range of rugged sounding names and classifications to their products, it is very easy to buy an inappropriate product for a mobile workforce. This can be a very costly mistake for the business and also be very frustrating and demotivating for the workforce,” comments Jan Kaempfer, General Manager of Marketing for Panasonic Computer Product Solutions.

“Just because a mobile device has an IP Rating or a Military Standard compliant logo or claims to be water or drop proof, does not mean it is fit for purpose. I would recommend all buyers examine these claims very closely; ask to see test details and certificates. Examine whether the testing was undertaken independently or even under laboratory conditions and then test the products themselves, in the field, with a thorough pilot evaluation before buying.”

Environmental concerns

The research also showed that the business requirements for rugged devices were also evolving from the traditional environmental concerns of withstanding drops and water and dust protection. When asked which elements of the device were most important to be ruggedised, buyers put device and data security at the top of the list with 94% ranking it very important or important.

“It’s clear that the priorities of businesses are evolving when it comes to rugged devices,” continues Kaempfer.

“Devices that are just tough no longer meet the need. Buyers need manufacturers of their rugged devices to have considered important issues such as the type of viewing screen, battery life and power management and the security of data and the device’s communications capabilities.”

Written from press release by Leah Alger

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