Mission-critical can be a relative term. When it comes to businesses, we often refer to servers or Wi-Fi access points as mission-critical technology. But for the individual worker, your personal computer is absolutely essential to doing your job, especially in the wake of digital transformation in the public and private sectors. We’re always online now, always connected, and becoming more so, but still, the average consumer-grade or business-grade laptop is designed for indoor use in clean, safe, climate-controlled spaces only.
If you use it outdoors, in a vehicle, or in an area where welding or machine work is being done, you risk compromising the user experience and damaging the machine itself. The latter risk was more tolerable when your IT department could deal with device failures relatively swiftly. But with remote and hybrid working arrangements becoming the norm, the timely resolution is becoming harder.
If an operational failure in your primary work computer cannot be swiftly resolved, failure is not an option, and you’ll be needing a device that goes above and beyond what business-class can do. Have you considered semi-rugged?
What Is A Semi-Rugged Laptop?
Semi-rugged laptops are designed for professionals who need an office-style computer with a full keyboard, but who also spend portions of their day in hard-hat areas or other non-office environs where safety and climate control cannot be guaranteed, such as workshops, factory floors, vehicles, and, intermittently, the outdoors.
Industries that commonly use semi-rugged laptops include automotive, manufacturing, law enforcement, and certain utilities, but in truth, any industry or enterprise where physical risks to your device are not trivial, or where mobile connectivity and information security must always be maintained, or where you might need your laptop to run on battery power for a full shift or longer, would be better served by a semi-rugged than a consumer or business-grade device.
The same applies if you use your device under direct sunlight. The average laptop screen produces about 250 nits of brightness, but comfortable viewing under direct sunlight requires at least 800 nits, which requires serious battery capability if you need such viewing for any length of time – a good-quality semi-rugged offers both.
What Qualifies as Rugged?
Rugged computing devices (whether semi-rugged or fully-rugged) are built for use away from air-conditioned indoor areas. They’re built for a longer lifecycle than an enterprise or consumer-grade machine, making breakdowns and damage less frequent. They also offer multifactor user authentication (recently ordered by President Biden for all computers used by the US federal government), and multiple high-speed wireless connection options, including Wi-Fi, LTE/5G, or even Li-Fi.
Rugged computers are operable in winter cold or summer heat (-21oC to 50oC at the minimum), and while using work gloves. They’re also certified waterproof and dustproof, and tolerant of drops, impact, and other abuse. And those certifications are important. Any vendor can put a metal chassis on a laptop and call it rugged, but that’s not enough on its own.
A truly rugged device will have at least two forms of certification. One is Military Standard (MIL-STD), which proves the device has undergone a series of harsh tests originally devised for military equipment. The other is IP-rating, which verifies water- and dust-proofing. Without both certifications, you should consider a device’s ruggedness to be nothing more than marketing.
What Does Semi-Rugged Mean?
Getac recognizes two categories of rugged devices: fully-rugged and semi-rugged. A Getac semi-rugged laptop will offer the enhanced battery, screen, connectivity, security, and temperature capabilities mentioned in the previous section. It will also be certified tolerant of moderate levels of abuse (MIL-STD-810H).
It will withstand a 3-foot drop without damage or operational interruption. It will be usable on a vibrating surface. It will operate in the dusty conditions typical of a machine shop or mechanic’s garage, or in brief periods of moderate rain (IP53 rating). In short, a semi-rugged laptop offers the same heightened technical capabilities as a fully-rugged laptop, while omitting certain extreme and/or niche tolerances.
And it should be noted that some device vendors will try to pass off “business-rugged” devices as semi-rugged. But the term “business-rugged” is problematic. It has no consistent definition, which is one reason Getac doesn’t use it. A business-rugged laptop might have the exact tolerances of a semi-rugged one, or it might not. Look for the certifications.
What Else Can a Semi-Rugged Laptop Do?
When standard laptops are regularly burdened with heavy computational or connectivity workloads, they need maintenance, and perhaps quite a bit of it. But a semi-rugged laptop can reduce your need for maintenance under heavy strain drastically.
And what’s more, business laptops are typically built for general office tasks, not industrial applications. They might not offer the legacy or industry-specific device compatibility you need, or integrate easily with any custom software you might be using. But a Getac semi-rugged can fit right in for several industries.
With their easy mounting, viewability under direct sunlight, ability to withstand the stress and vibration of a high-speed pursuit, and custom integration with Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) software and Police National Computer (PNC) access, our semi-rugged devices are well-suited to in-vehicle patrol work. Out of the vehicle, their long battery life, full keyboard, and enhanced connectivity come in handy during evidence collection, forensic work, and various other types of paperwork.
Automotive & Manufacturing
Our semi-rugged laptops are dust- and mist-tolerant, easy to mount, work-glove usable, and can withstand the typical abuses encountered in a garage, workshop, machine shop, or on a factory floor. They can also be engineered for any industry-specific and legacy interfaces you need, and integrate easily with your Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES), as well as your quality inspection software.
With their modest weight, sunlight readability, and moderate rain tolerances, Getac semi-rugged laptops work well for outdoor tasks done by water companies, telecoms, and electricity providers (assuming no risk of explosive atmosphere). Their long battery life is handy during long work shifts spent inspecting or meter reading. Their dedicated GPS enables easy workforce management, survey work, and Geographic Information System (GIS) use. And with their smooth integration with EAM and CMMS software, asset management and maintenance management are less of a hassle, respectively.
A Good Semi-Rugged Can Be Well Worth It
A good semi-rugged laptop can offer a significant step up for your organization in terms of capability and build quality, without undue tradeoffs in terms of awkwardness. Getac’s S410 semi-rugged model is only 1.5-inches thick and starts at a little over five pounds, modest increases over an enterprise-class notebook of the same screen size. It also omits the rubberized padded corners or other “toolbelt & workboot” accouterments typical of other rugged models, so it can be used in a coffee shop, office, or boardroom without seeming out of place.
And with a unit price only a modest step up from what a high-end business notebook would command, the superior reliability, capability, flexibility, and aftersales support you get with a Getac semi-rugged laptop are well worth it. If you’ve got further questions for us about semi-rugged laptops, you contact us here.