Tough tech: Rugged gear that can survive almost any calamity

Worried about dropping your mobile phone in the pool? Getting caught in the rain with your laptop? Pushing your camera off of a ledge? These sturdy gadgets can survive all that and more.

Technology That's Tougher Than You Are



You know that you should guard your expensive electronic equipment. You don't use your cell phone in the shower, you dive to catch a falling hard drive before it hits the ground, and you never leave a laptop in a hot car. And you certainly don't toss your phone into a pool, run over your hard drive with a truck, or throw your laptop into a freezer. Right?

Well, sometimes accidents happen. They don't always have to be fatal to your gadgets, though--thanks to rugged technology.

This type of tech used to be exclusive to the military, which has long developed ruggedized devices for use in the field. The [[xref:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MIL-STD-810|MIL-STD-810|MIL-STD-810] military testing standard sets guidelines. MIL-STD-108 tests show whether a product can withstand drops, spills, rain, pressure, dust, extreme temperatures, temperature shock, or various other harsh conditions.

(NOTE: PC World does not advise or advocate that you ever try any such experiments with your own hardware.)

The products that can withstand such rigorous testing are "MIL-STD-810 Certified," and are deemed rugged enough for use by the military, as well as in other dangerous professions such as construction, firefighting, and extreme sports.

"Ruggedized" doesn't mean the same thing for each class of hardware, however. For example, a laptop has to endure being dropped just 3 feet, while functioning, to meet MIL-STD-810 standards, whereas a cell phone typically has to survive being dropped over 6 feet, while functioning, to pass (the difference depends on how and where an average user operates the device).

Fortunately for the average consumer, rugged products aren't just for the military anymore; plenty of consumer-level products comply with the military standards. So if you need a laptop that you can shove off of a table or a phone that you can shower with, look no further--rugged tech is in the house.

Now, let's soak--and drop--some laptops.

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