Tough Laptops for the Contractor


If you lug your laptop around dirty, dusty worksites either on the job or at your home, a typical laptop isn’t going to cut it. Luckily, there a number of laptops out there designed with the DIYer in mind. Yes, you can choose from a whole line of tough and rugged laptops designed to survive drops, spills and shocks. Here are a few models that any guy with a tool belt and a pickup truck can appreciate.

Amrel Rocky RT9

If you want toughness above all else, and you’re willing to pay for it, the Rocky RT will give it to you, along with plenty of DIY-friendly features. Dust won’t bog the Rocky down and water splashes are a joke to this machine. It’s got a mega-bright screen you can easily see outside and has a backlit keyboard so you can work in the dark. It even has a heater to protect the battery in temperatures as low as -20 C. Prices vary depending on customization, but be prepared to spend over $3,000.

Panasonic Toughbook 31

There’s no bigger name in rugged laptops than the Toughbook, the first of its kind when it hit the market in 1997. It’s come a long way since then. The latest Toughbook 31 features optional 4G LTE wireless access, backlit keyboard, 500 GB of hard drive and up to 8 GB of RAM. Add that to a waterproof and drop-proof housing that folds up into a plastic carrying case complete with toolbox-like handle, and you’ve got one of the toughest — and highest performing — laptops on the market.
There’s even the option of adding a touch-screen with stylus, allowing you to use the laptop like a tablet without having to take off your work gloves. It’s a great feature, but adds $200 to $400 to the base model price of about $3,000.

Xplore RangerX

If you think maybe a tablet would be more your speed, check out the RangerX. It’s an Android tablet with both front and rear cameras and is drop-proof, dust-proof and waterproof. It’s one of the lightest worksite-friendly computing devices, weighing in at only 2.2 pounds. You can even download free software from Xplore that makes the tablet glove-touchable. Prices start at $1,300.

Panasonic Toughbook F9

The Toughbook F9 is aimed at the business world, so it includes something most rugged laptops lack: A CD/DVD drive. It’s also one of the lightest rugged laptops at only 3.6 pounds, and it has a top handle, which almost makes it look like a small briefcase when closed. If you want something that’s tough and easy to carry around from project to project, this is a sure bet. Prices start at $2,600.

Getac B300

Call it overkill if you want, but there’s nothing out there quite like the Getac B300. The B300 is built to meet the military’s standards for a rugged laptop: It can last through every kind of environmental condition, and it doesn’t interfere with other transmitters or night vision equipment. The Getac’s screen is fully visible in sunlight or darkness, the keyboard is backlit, you can equip the laptop with multi-carrier 4G LTE to work online anywhere, and the battery lasts for 15 hours. It may be a little overkill for the weekend warrior homeowner, but the B300’s cool factor is through the roof. Prices start at $2,800.