Tough devices aren’t just for soldiers working in tough terrain, or Arctic explorers either. Anyone planning a holiday in rough terrain or adventure activities such as mountaineering or trekking through a jungle, should consider getting them. Be it phones, tablets or cameras, some of the most impressive new devices launched recently are reliable enough to be used in the harshest of environments—from mountain peaks to underwater.
Read on to find out which gadgets made it to our “rugged-devices-money-can-buy” list.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS4
The Panasonic Lumix TS4, launched in March, is one of the toughest cameras in the market, with built-in features that make it ideal for outdoor use. It features a 12.1-megapixel hi-speed CCD sensor, with 28-128 mm Leica DC Vario-Elmar lens and 4.6x optical zoom. Of course, the camera is dust-proof, can withstand drops from about 6.6ft, is freeze-proof up to -10 degrees Celsius and can be submerged in water up to 40ft.
Even better, the Lumix TS4 also contains an altimeter that indicates your depth under water. A built-in barometer helps log readings and forecast the weather. The GPS system can be updated with millions of landmarks across 82 countries, and it automatically organizes the photos according to the places where you took them. You can even show off a map of your journey (constructed from the geo-tagged photos) to the world. And as a final touch, the camera also has a built-in compass.
Where to buy: Amazon
Best for: The ideal camera for any kind of activity, whether you’re up in the mountains or going diving.
Price: $274. Shipping charges extra
Samsung Rugby Smart
Samsung’s Rugby is a range of rugged smartphones, and the Rugby Smart, launched in March, is just the latest. It has a beautiful 800x480 resolution display with Super AMOLED tech, is just half-an-inch thick and looks sleek. Unlike similarly sized devices though, the Smart isn’t easily affected by being dropped. That’s not all, though.
The device is equipped for the MIL-STD-810, a US Military Standard test. Some of the test procedures include “Explosive Atmosphere”, “Acidic Atmosphere”, “Gunfire Vibration”. Just don’t try using it to deflect bullets.
The Rugby has no open ports—all the slots can be sealed, and the phone then submerged in up to 3ft of water for 30 minutes. If it’s closed, a few accidental spills or falls won’t matter.
The phone has access to all major network standards, from 2G to 4G, and noise-cancellation technology, so the calls sound clear no matter what the weather is like.
Where to buy: Amazon/eBay
Best for: If you’re trekking in the mountains and want a cutting-edge phone.
Price: $349.99 (around Rs 19,320). Shipping charges extra.
Motorola Defy Mini XT320
The Defy Mini is a more compact version of the Motorola Defy, launched in March, with a 3.2-inch touch screen, 0.49-inch thickness, and weighing 107g. You can access various networks, and there are even options for converting the device into a Wi-Fi hot spot. The 480x320 resolution with 180 pixels per inch doesn’t make for a very sharp screen, and paired with a 600 MHz CPU and 512 MB of RAM, the device is anything but a powerhouse in terms of hardware.
As a rugged device, it’s a whole different story. A running tap does nothing, the water simply flows off. Pour gravel on top of it, or just keep it buried underground for a while, and it’ll still keep going. It’s nearly impossible to scratch, and can handle drops well. You can even switch on the camera and submerge it for underwater photography.
In terms of toughness, the Motorola Defy Mini XT320 shakes off whatever you can throw at it, and still keeps working. It’s lightweight, and the above-average performance handles the Android experience well enough.
Where to buy: Amazon/eBay
Best for: If you want a tough phone which is still small enough to carry around for city use.
Price: $244.95. Shipping charges extra.
Pantech is more infamous for its range of smartphones than well known. However, this hasn’t stopped it from plunging into the tablet market—in more ways than one. The Pantech Element, launched in January, weighs 0.5kg and is only 0.4 inches thick. Its 8-inch screen comes with a 1,024x768 display resolution and the battery life is even better, at 12 hours of use.
But the device’s major selling point is that it is waterproof, and shock- and dust-resistant. The touch screen isn’t usable underwater, but a thorough soaking won’t have any effect. The ports on the device come with perfect airtight seals, so spraying water at pressure at the ports will still not damage the tablet.
Where to buy: eBay
Best for: Sea diving, taking to the beach.
Price: $299.95. Shipping charges extra
Motorola ET1 Tablet
At 0.6kg, Motorola Solutions’ ET1, launched in January, is a shot at creating a rugged tablet for business. It packs some serious hardware, with a 7-inch display with 1,024x600 resolution, a 1 GHz dual-core CPU and an 8-megapixel camera. Battery life is above average, and it has a removable battery—a rarity among tablets.
A dedicated bar-code reader presents an interesting option for retail use. You can also attach a hand strap on the back, making the device easier to hold for longer periods.
Can it take a beating? Its display is covered with a sheet of Corning Gorilla Glass, which is standard issue for most screens nowadays. But the ET1’s screen is much thicker than most commercial displays, and recessed for added shock protection. It has an IP54 level of environmental sealing, which protects the internal components against water and dust. What’s more, the ET1 also conforms to the MIL-STD-810G standard tests. Finally, no doubt for retailers working in cold storage, the device is operable at temperatures between 0-50 degrees Celsius.
The Motorola E1 may be bulkier than what most people are used to, but it certainly fulfils the toughness quota, with a fair degree of performance to boot.
Where to buy: Amazon/eBay
Best for: Trekking or other activities where a backpack to carry the bulky tablet isn’t a problem.
Price: $1,535. Shipping charges extra.
Nokia Lumia 900
Nokia has always made tough feature phones, but the Nokia Lumia 900 is the toughest flagship smartphone.
The Nokia Lumia 900 has a 4.3-inch ClearBlack AMOLED screen with an 800x480 resolution, a 1.4 GHz CPU and 8-megapixel camera with Carl Zeiss Optics. It’s considered one of the best all-round smartphones available today.
A recent torture test showcased the effects of trying to hammer a nail into the phone’s Corning Gorilla Glass display. It then went on to use the phone itself as a hammer, with no ill-effects whatsoever.
Where to buy: www.nokia.co.in (from June onwards)
Best for: If you’re looking for a top-end phone, which is near indestructible but still looks great.
Price: Rs 28,000 (estimated)
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