Toughbook takes mil-spec testing a step further

Aug. 13, 2009
Panasonic is so confident in its rugged Toughbook line of computers, that when it came time for stringent military-standard MIL-STD-810G testing, the company wasn’t satisfied. It went further

Panasonic is so confident in its rugged Toughbook line of computers, that when it came time for stringent military-standard MIL-STD-810G testing, the company wasn’t satisfied. It went further. Citing its 15 years of experience in the industry, Panasonic believed the 810G test wasn’t sufficient enough.

“Most people are not aware that the military itself does not test products, but only provides guidelines,” said Kyp Walls, director of product management at Panasonic Computer Solutions. “As a result, there is actually a lot of flexibility in conducting military-standard testing, which has made for an environment in which vendor claims about durability have actually gone untested. For example, many companies will use multiple devices to pass the 26 angle military- standard drop test method. This level of slack means that some products can be identified as mil-spec, yet not reflect real-world performance needs. This is unacceptable according to Panasonic’s—and our mission-critical customers’—standards.”

Instead of using multiple devices (the specs allow up to five, according to Panasonic), the company used just one Toughbook 19 convertible tablet, one Toughbook 30 laptop and one Toughbook U1 ultra mobile handheld replacement for all the testing. Each computer was dropped a total of 78 times from distances of four to six 6 ft. The results: Each passed 20 810G tests, which supersede the MIL-STD-810F testing. The computers also passed IP65 ingress protection testing and ASTM D4169-04 vehicle vibration tests, as conducted by a third-party laboratory, Panasonic said.

The testing is based on guidelines issued by the U.S. Army to certify products for use within the Dept. of Defense. “There’s a common misconception that products can receive a blanket ‘military standard certification’ verifying the device is rugged in all respects,” said Walls. “This is not the case. There are numerous tests and each test is broken down into different procedures. Tests can be modified, which is generally used as an excuse by vendors to make them easier to pass. However, Panasonic did not modify any MIL-STD-810G tests to try to water them down or make them easier. Rather, Panasonic has modified a test to make it more challenging and indicative of something a product could face in the real world.”

The company has posted videos of the testing at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pEeBG-pXoSA

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