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What’s the Best IT Equipment to Use in Harsh Environments?

By Jana Melpolder on May 23, 2014

ICT4D practitioners work in all kinds of difficult weather conditions and environments. Dust, humidity, unreliable power, heat, and blowing sand can all make it tricky to keep IT equipment clean and working efficiently for users.

Recently United Methodist Communications (UMCom) asked Inveneo to test, rate, and recommend IT equipment suitable for the diverse environments that ICT4D practitioners work in. Inveneo staff conducted several tests on laptops, tablets, desktops, and monitors/projectors. To share the results and offer recommendations, the team published the “ShopUMC Product Evaluation Report” for UMCom’s audience and the larger ICT community.

During the testing stage, the engineers rated each piece of equipment in terms of battery life, power consumption, performance, and several other components. A few of the tests included in the report were:

Power Consumption Tests

Engineers tested DC power consumption. For example, if the product operates from an AC-to-DC power adapter, most typically from 12 VDC to 19 VDC, Inveneo tested a sample unit under various operating scenarios using a bench power supply that can source a varying DC voltage.

The team also measured AC power consumption. Products with internal AC power supplies were tested under the same test scenarios as units with external power adapters, but the power consumption was measured with either a Watts-UP power monitoring device or a Kill-a-Watt power meter.

Environmental Tests

Inveneo designed and built its own high temperature test “hotbox”. The hotbox employs two microprocessor-controlled 300W incandescent light bulbs and can reach an internal temperature of as high as 80°C (176°F) but it is very rarely used above 55°C maximum. Devices that fit into the hotbox are normally tested for 2 to 4 days at increasing temperatures while operating in a simulated maximum load scenario.

The piece of equipment under test was monitored throughout these temperature tests, both electronically and visually, to ensure that it was still functioning correctly under the test scenario.

Inveneo’s engineers looked at the amount of airflow going in and out of products undergoing temperature testing to make a somewhat subjective judgment about potential dust accumulation.

Which Equipment Models Were Tested?

Desktops:

  • ASUS EB1007P
  • Aleutia T1 Fanless Eco PC
  • Dell OptiPlex 3010 Small Form Factor

Laptops:

  • Intel ClassmatePC Pupil 103 Laptop
  • Intel ClassmatePC Pupil 104 Laptop
  • Acer TravelMate 5744-6695 – 15.6 – Core i3 380M – Windows 7 Professional
  • Panasonic Toughbook 53

Tablets:

  • Samsung Galaxy Tablet 2 (10.1) WiFi
  • Nexus 10 Tablet
  • Apple iPad with Retina Display
  • Turcom Zenithink C93 10”

Peripherals – Monitors and Projectors:

  • Asus VS208N-P 20” LCD/LED
  • Optoma PK320 Pico Projector

The report gives an extended graph and list that offers ratings for each of these pieces of equipment. A quick snapshot for the best choices when it comes to environmental and application suitability can be found below.

ShopUMCReportGraph

The “ShopUMC Product Evaluation Report” was commissioned by UMCom. The equipment is available at the Shop UMC store.

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Written by
Jana Melpolder worked for over two years as an editor for ICTworks. She is passionate about bringing human rights issues to the forefront through ICT in the developing world, and she has reported on development programs from several countries including Bolivia, Ghana, Thailand and India. Follow her on Twitter: @JanaMelpolder
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One Comment to “What’s the Best IT Equipment to Use in Harsh Environments?”

  1. Neil Laslett says:

    Interesting post and I look forward to reading the full report. One critical dimension to deploying equipment, however, is how it’s protected. For example, I have a fleet of Samsung Galaxy 7″ Tab 2 tablets. They’re fine – but I wouldn’t deploy them without a high-end Otterbox case. Same for any other portable device.

    For laptops, battery life is key. Weight is also important. So the question becomes, “what extended life batteries are available, and what does the total unit weigh?”