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A look at Dell rugged products in the lab and wild

By: Steven Bassiri | Editorials in Laptops | Posted: Oct 7, 2016 7:54 pm

Testing Out Dell's Claims in a Lab




Dell also gave me a tour of their testing lab, where they test out their products. To be clear, this lab isn't their validation lab, so it's more of a hands-on, easy to configure testing facility where theory meets reality, and customers can see the durability of the product for themselves in person.


The first thing you get to do is drop a notebook 6 feet, a hands-on activity that leaves an impression. The entire lab reminds me of engineering labs at Georgia Tech, where things are basic yet scientific.



The non-manual drop test raises the notebook 6 feet in the air and then proceeds to drop it to see if it breaks. The notebook they used has a bunch of tally marks on it because it had been dropped more than 20 times without damage.




The hinge test works the hinges of the notebook until failure. Some users might ponder as to why this is an important test, as it's very uncommon for a notebook's hinges to give out before its hardware. The importance of the hinge testing became apparent when I learned that proper protocol for a police officer is to open and close their notebook screen every time they leave the car. Every traffic stop, every pit stop, and with multiple shifts around the clock, the hinges of the notebooks must last for many years before failing.



This next test is a water intrusion test for IPX3 which is for splash protection. Water is shot in many directions around the perimeter of the notebook. The semi-rugged notebook is rated IP-52, and this chamber can rain on it, the fully-rugged notebooks are rated higher and can be submerged.



Dell also had a nice way of showing off the bathing ability of their Rugged Extreme products. Hosing down a notebook is much more fun than you might think.



The dust test blows a fine talc powder into the atmosphere for at least 6 hours, while a negative vacuum is created inside the device to try and produce a worst case scenario, then the device is torn down and inspected to see if there is any powder. Dell mentioned that the difference between IP-5x and IP-6x certifications is that IP-5x allows for dust to enter but not cause a system shutdown, but IP-6x has to be 100% clear of dust particles. The dust test is important to determine the device's ability to survive in desert conditions - think Afghanistan or a desert in Nevada.




Temperature and humidity are also two things that need to be tested, and they have a special chamber to control the environment. They also need to test out the effects of salt water on their products, as it eats away at most devices.

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