For many years, the received wisdom amongst those making use of computers in harsh environments has been that it’s cheaper to buy a commercial PC or laptop and take the risk of failure rather than buy a more expensive one that has been ruggedized. After all, the commercial platform can be so easily replaced. A recent whitepaper from VDC Research questions this bromide. First off, amongst professionals a whole slew of user-segment categories has arisen, to include the following: field-based harsh; in vehicle; field-based moderate; road warrior; and campus. The high failure rate associated with many mobile computing deployments suggests to VDC that there are a large number of users equipped with inappropriate solutions. And it maintains that the result is higher ownership costs. Not many people bother to do a total cost of ownership (TCO) examination of their mobile computing costs. Even then, the research group maintains that there tends to be too much reliance on hard, or deployment, costs and not enough focus on soft, or operational, costs. In fact, hard costs are said to account for only 18% of the deployment’s TCO over a five-year period. Annual device failures for non-rugged hardware can exceed 30%. Each percentage point of failure results in an increase of almost 5% in mobile computing indirect or soft costs. According to VDC end-user research, the leading causes of field device failure are dropping the device and water liquid exposure, two relatively common experiences. Furthermore, failure rates of non-rugged mobile computers in many of the previously described user environments exceeded 20%. Very seldom are these units repaired. They are most often replaced. Not often thought of is that these replacements often result in mixed deployments of software and hardware. You know how and why the IT department hates that. Full price often has to be paid. And in today’s world no one wants to be without their PC laptop for even a day. Although times are tough, VDC maintains that investment in ruggedized devices is a better deal than is commonly supposed.