Today’s laptops are often beautifully designed, lightweight and slim. But they’re also fragile. A slim 2 in 1 computer isn’t exactly designed for rugged, outdoors-y work. While a LOGIK neoprene laptop sleeve is designed to look good, not necessarily protect a portable from hard knocks.
Sometimes you need to have a laptop you can take anywhere. Maybe you work outdoors, or in wet conditions. Perhaps you just need something that can survive a drop or fall. The good news is that there are tough laptops out there that can survive a lot of abuse. Failing that, you can beef up your existing machine with a specialised protective case.
One of the best-known examples of a rugged laptop is the Panasonic Toughbook. Equipped with an Intel® Core™ i5-7300U vPro™ processor, this is a staple of people in construction, maritime and even the military. In fact, the Toughbook makes the average water resistant phone look ridiculous, passing a variety of different laboratory tests to gain the military-grade designation MIL-STD-810. These include drop tests and vibration tests, plus assessments for high and low temperatures, rain, fungus, salt fog, sand and dust.
The Verge heaps praise on the ruggedised Toughbook CF-33, saying “the most impressive thing about the Toughbook isn’t that it’s as close to indestructible as a laptop can be, but rather that in addition to being incredibly durable, it’s also still got specs that are just as good as any other high-end laptop on the market”. And they’re right, there’s a choice of Intel Core i5 and i7 processors available for the best performance and the whole thing is backed up with an impressive QHD screen and 10-hour battery life.
And while Panasonic is perhaps the best-known provider of tough laptops, it’s not the only manufacturer in town. Dell also offers a range of impressive machines with ruggedisation, including the Latitude 12 Rugged Extreme and the Latitude 14 Rugged.
Laptops in space
Like Panasonic there’s a range of Intel processor choices here too, from an Intel Core i3-6100U in the Rugged Extreme to an i7-6600U in the Latitude 14. You can also opt for a variety of Windows editions (the same is true of the Panasonic Toughbook too), because users of these machines often also demand special software in the field that might not be Windows 10-compatible. In terms of pricing, the Latitude 14 starts at around £2,000. While the 12-inch Rugged Extreme can be yours for £3,500.
Elsewhere, sturdy Lenovo T61p laptops are used in orbit on the International Space Station, while Getac offers a ruggedised machine called the X500. Fitted with a 15.6-inch 1080p display that the company says is ideal for outdoor use thanks to its brightness, the X500 can pack 8GB or 16GB of RAM and comes with either an Intel Core i7-4610M vPro or i5-4310M vPro processor.
You can also opt for discrete NVIDIA GeForce GTX950M graphics if you need some extra power for specialist applications. While, like the Panasonic CF-33, the X500 is MIL-STD-810G certified and IP65 water and ingress protected too.
Of course, there are lots of reasons you might not want to buy a tough laptop. They are, after all, more expensive than a normal machine and you might not need something rugged for everything you do. Instead, why not invest in a case that can take a beating?
Toughen up your laptop
You could opt for a MacBook-friendly Thule Gauntlet, which features enhanced corner and edge protection. Or the waterproof Aqua Quest Storm sleeve, which is designed to protect your laptop even if it becomes completely submerged underwater.
But for the ultimate in protection, look no further than a foam-filled Pelican Protector Case. Equipped with an Automatic Purge Valve that balances the internal air pressure, the HardBack Protector range is watertight, crushproof and dustproof. This is the kit that film and TV crews use to keep their expensive equipment safe. So if it’s good enough for them…