Let’s talk about the “drop spec”

The ultra-rugged Android phablet – Handheld Nautiz X6.

A complicated test procedure

The MIL-STD-810G transit drop testing procedure does mandate that a device survive a total of 26 drops on each face, edge and corner. That’s actually not as simple as it sounds. Making a small object impact exactly as planned is a challenge.

In addition, the MIL-STD isn’t as clear as it could be. It says that the 26 drops can be divided among up to five samples of the same test item, which may mean use the first until it fails, then start with the second, and so on. Out there in the field there are no five samples, so it should be very clear how testing was performed.

Further, the MIL-STD often distinguishes between operating and non-operating. That used to be an issue when most mobile devices had rotating hard disks where impact could cause a head crash. It is no longer an issue with solid state disks. In modern gear, testing should always be while operating, if for no other reason than to instantly see when it failed.

But let’s assume that all the testing makes sense and is properly done. Once it’s been determined how and when a device is most likely to break, why not design it so that those kinds of impact won’t damage or break the device? That can relatively easily be done with, depending on the type of device, corner bumpers, edge guards, recessed displays, protective margins and, of course, choosing materials that cushion and resist damage.

Makers of rugged handhelds and tablets know that. Consumer tech companies apparently don’t. Today’s slender, glitzy consumer smartphones and tablets (and many laptops, as well) are the absolute worst in terms of damage resistance. So if you want a device that lasts on the job, it’s all about rational design, rational materials, and, last but definitely not least, rational testing.

By: Conrad H. Blickenstorfer RuggedPCReview.com