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Buyers confused by rugged mobile computing terminology

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Panasonic warns rugged 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 believe standards for ruggedness are already in place – and 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.

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 are 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.

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.

Jan Kaempfer, General Manager of Marketing for Panasonic Computer Product Solutions, said: “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.”

“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.”

Rugged requirements evolving
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,” said Jan. “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.”

Advice for business buyers of rugged mobile computing devices
To help buyers with their rugged device purchases, Panasonic has published the Rugged Confusion whitepaper, along with the following tips to ensure buyers get the right device for their workforce.

Always ask your vendor:

  • To supply MIL-STD810G and IP certificates to support any testing or standards claims.
  • How their products are engineered to offer light weight without compromising ruggedness or durability.
  • If the Military Standard tests have been carried out on one single unit or if they used multiple units to fulfil the tests.
  • Which display options their devices support.
  • For a device with a high capacity battery option and exchangeable design to improve TCO and ROI.
  • Which ports and interfaces are included in the main unit without adapter cables.
  • How they support seamless data transfer and the latest connectivity standards.
  • How they optimise power management on their devices.

Kiri O’Leary
The Amber Group
kiri@ambergroup.net
0118 949 7737

About Panasonic System Communications Company Europe (PSCEU)
Our quest is to make technology work invisibly together and free businesses to succeed. We believe technology should just work. That businesses will succeed if they can simply focus on their customers, in the knowledge that all the technologies delivering their capabilities work together. That is why we are dedicated to developing products and solutions that are so integrated with our customer’s way of working, that they are almost invisible – the workhorse in the background that powers business success.

PSCEU is made up of six product categories:

  • Broadcast & ProAV gives you the freedom to tell the story with its high quality products and solutions, which ensure smooth operation and excellent cost-performance across a range of remote cameras, switchers, studio cameras and ENG P2HD. The cinema camera range of VariCam models and the EVA1 are capable of true 4K and High Dynamic Range (HDR) making them the ideal solution for cinema, television, documentary and live event production.
  • Communication Solutions offers world leading telephony systems, SIP terminal devices and professional ‘network’ scanners giving you the freedom to focus on the communication and not the connection.
  • Computer Product Solutions help mobile workers improve productivity with its range of Toughbook rugged notebooks, business tablets, handhelds and electronic point of sales (EPOS) systems. As European market leaders, Panasonic had a 57% revenue share of sales of rugged and durable notebooks and tablets in 2017 (VDC Research, March 2018).
  • Industrial Medical Vision manufactures applications for various segments such as medical, life science, ProAV or industrial. The product portfolio includes complete and OEM camera systems, providing the freedom to see what can’t be seen.
  • Security Solutions, built on a heritage of providing evidential quality CCTV footage. Delivering the highest image quality in all environmental conditions using our highly reliable, advanced technology cameras and image recording systems, giving you the freedom to feel secure.
  • Visual System Solutions offers the widest range of professional displays and projectors and allows Audio Visual professionals the freedom to create. It leads the European high brightness projector market with a 39% market revenue share (Futuresource >5klm FY17 Q3, excl. 4K & digital cinema).

About Panasonic
Panasonic Corporation is a worldwide leader in the development of diverse electronics technologies and solutions for customers in the consumer electronics, housing, automotive, and B2B businesses. Celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2018, the company has expanded globally and now operates 591 subsidiaries and 88 associated companies worldwide, recording consolidated net sales of Euro 61.4 billion for the year ended March 31, 2018. Committed to pursuing new value through innovation across divisional lines, the company uses its technologies to create a better life and a better world for its customers. To learn more about Panasonic: http://www.panasonic.com/global