Are you the kind of gadget lover that tends to get wet and dirty on the weekends? Does your iPad travel with you when you go hiking and camping? Have you ruined a smartphone with dust and water?
Most technology is designed with a sedentary lifestyle in mind, but if you prefer to be active, there are a few products to look out for. Rugged products can weather a downpour, a sandstorm and a drop from a height, far better than non-rugged models. However, you do tend to trade-off power and performance when you choose a rugged phone, and tough computers can be expensive, but at least you can rely on to still work when you do finally get them home.
The ingress protection (IP) rating is a universally recognised system for determining how rugged particular machinery is. The rating is a double-digit figure, where the first figure indicates solid particle protection, like dirt and dust, and the second number is for liquids.
Most rugged smartphones, for example, have an IP rating of 57. When you compared this will the chart of protection, this indicates that the phone will survive being immersed in up to 1-metre of water and is strongly dust resistant, but not absolutely protected.
Check out the gallery below for our suggestions on great rugged phones and laptops, and some excellent rugged cases for protecting your fragile Apple devices.
Samsung's rugged X-cover should survive most outdoor activities, with an IP Rating of 67. It is a bit underpowered for an Android smartphone though, with only a single-core 800MHz processor and 512MB RAM.
This model is difficult to find in Australia, with none of the major telcos ranging it. Strangely, Optus offers the X-Cover on a business plan only. But if you're keen on this model, you can pick it up through an online store, like MobiCity.
Motorola has been in the rugged smartphones game for a few years now; the Defy Mini is the company's third attempt at what it describes as a "life-proof" phone. There's not a lot of smarts in this phone — it's 600MHz processor is painfully slow — but it is scratch, water and dust resistant.
If you're looking for the Defy Mini locally, Optus is your telco. The handset is available outright for AU$179, locked and with a pre-paid SIM.
We've included a picture of the Sonim XP1300 here, but, really, we wanted to point you to the Sonim brand. Though we're not talking about smartphones any more, Sonim is a brand synonymous with ruggedised mobile phones and outrageous testing videos. Finding Sonim phones is difficult in Aussie shops, but you can grab one online.
If you're looking to protect the phone you already have, there are a number of ruggedised cases available, especially for the Apple iPhone. Speck ToughSkin is one we like, thanks to its gnarly horn-like protrusions and its reasonable AU$44.95 price tag.
OtterBox is probably the best-known name in tough iPhone cases, and its latest looks sleeker and slimmer than early versions. Rugged cases tend to be quite bulky, but not so here. It's RRP AU$69 is a bit pricey, but there are plenty of stores online that are selling it cheaper.
The Ballistic Hard Core is one of the cases we've actually had the pleasure of using ourselves. It adds quite a bit of bulk to an iPhone, but it feels as sturdy as anything. Ballistic sells the cases themselves, through an Australian website, with the Hard Core going for a cool AU$59.95. If you are looking for slimmer and cheaper, you might also consider the Life Style series case.
Better still, Ballistic also offer tough cases for a variety of other phones by different manufacturers, including HTC and Samsung.
As with the OtterBox iPhone case before, the iPad version offers a rugged shell for protecting your favourite 10-inch tablet. It also has a handy kick-stand at the back to prop up the iPad for easy reading. It doesn't come cheap though, with a AU$129 price tag attached.
If you've ever worked in a video production company, you'll have heard of a Pelican case. Now, the company trusted in protecting $100,000s worth of video equipment can also be trusted to protect your iPad. This is the most serious looking iPad case we've seen, like a briefcase with a keyboard built-in. We found one online store in Australia stocking it too, at a reasonable price to boot.
When we think of rugged laptops, we think first of the Panasonic Toughbook range. The CF-53 is one of this year's models, with decent battery life for when you are outdoors and good general performance to match.
Dell also makes a rugged laptop, with a 14-inch display and a 2.5kg weight. Dell offers both Core i5 and Core i7 variants, which is great for people who need more than a word processor, when they are out and about.