Were you the type of kid who broke toys pretty soon after they came out of the box? Or maybe you just go through eyeglasses, camera, phones, and music players with abandon. Even if youre not like this at all, you probably know someone who fits this sad profile. Perhaps theyre a student returning back to campus or a business person that is constantly on the go. Although most gadgets are built to withstand normal wear and tear, only a few can survive harsh exposure to the elements. Well stay tuned, because weve dug up and appropriately abused the following rugged devices.
Our mobile phone expert put Sprints Nextel i580 phone through the wringer and grudgingly concluded that it is "nearly indestructible". Sascha dropped it, spiked it, froze it, threw it from a second-story window and at last resort, ran it over with a car—several times. The hearty i580 and all its functions survived, despite a few bruises. Also impressive is its big feature set. The phone comes with a bright screen, impressive sound, Bluetooth, a camera, GPS, and even MP3 capabilities.
For those who prefer listen to your tunes on a dedicated MP3 player, there arent many rugged options out there besides sporty models with low storage capacity (less than 1 GB). But as a rule, flash-based players, like the Apple iPod nano are less susceptible to shock than their hard-drive based cousins. But if you need more music and video on the go, you can protect your video iPod with an Otterbox case. Made of clear hard plastic, the enclosure is lined with hard rubber and is airtight to boot. Your precious music player should be safe whether it falls on concrete, into a sandbox or puddle of water.
And speaking of large quantities of water, the Olympus Stylus 720 SW is a great camera for underwater photography. Waterproof to a depth of 10 feet and the camera is shock-resistant as well. Itll survive a drop from about 5 feet. During real world testing, the stylus 720 captured splashes, dives and underwater swimmers quite well too (check out some cool watery shots in our slideshow).
Last but not least, dont forget to protect your laptop. Most likely the most expensive mobile device you own, laptops also house lots of important data, including music, pictures, and personal info. And laptops can be rugged. The Itronix Hummer Laptop IX600 is equipped with an SUV-like chassis complete with the Hummer logo. The system is ideal if youre out in the field all day (think construction workers, architects, park rangers, field scientists.) Environmentalists make object to it, but this laptop can take a beating.