We beat a rugged Chromebook, then dropped it off the roof

Rugged Chromebooks aren’t new at this point. We’ve seen these classroom-ready devices come in all sorts of shapes, forms, and sizes over the years. And we also took the claims manufacturers make about them at face value all the time. To be fair, I always assumed claims about surviving water, 4-foot drops, and a bit of stress on the chassis were all legit for all of these rugged Chromebooks. But then again, we never really tested it either. So, we thought it was time to do that and more.

Robustness put to the test

For our first tests, we wanted to prove that the advertised claims actually hold up to quite intense manipulation. In a controlled setting, we tested the strength of the HP Chromebook 11 MK EE G9’s anchored keycaps (ugh, Chromebook names), the device’s ability to withstand a full cup of water (nearly 12 ounces ), the hinge’s ability to absorb incredibly rough handling, and finally the Chromebook’s ability to withstand some pretty nasty 4-foot drops onto hardwood.

All of these specs are listed on HP’s official spec sheet for this particular Chromebook, so we’ve stayed completely within the limits of what the manufacturer claims it can support. The later parts of our tests go well beyond these limits, but we’ll get to that later. For these early tests, we really wanted to convince HP (and every other Chromebook EDU maker for that matter) of their claims that these rugged Chromebooks can take a beating.

The rugged Chromebook passed with flying colors

And handle a beating he did! Sure, I was able to remove a key cap with a butter knife, but trying to do it with my hands alone seemed almost impossible. The ridiculous amount of water spilled directly on the keyboard and trackpad, holding the device by the corner of the screen, and multiple drops from around 4 feet had no ill effects on the device.

Our qualification to pass each test was the ability of the Chromebook to continue computing thereafter, and with each, the device continued to hook up just fine. Other than the missing key cap, you probably wouldn’t be able to tell we put it under any serious stress.

So that concluded our first tests with very impressive results. Ultimately, you can be sure that these rugged Chromebooks are able to withstand ridiculous amounts of abuse and are able to continue to perform well afterwards. I expected water or drips to be a problem, but I was very impressed with this Chromebook’s ability to take a beating and keep rising from the mat.

Go to the next level

For the next part of the video, we really wanted to get a specific point across: While rugged Chromebooks can take a serious beating, they’re not indestructible. The drop-ready, splash-proof chassis can’t handle a lot, and we wanted to put it to the test.

So in an effort to prove it, we climbed onto the roof of a nearby building, a solid 2.5 stories above the ground, and dropped the Chromebook on the asphalt from above. It was a little nerve-wracking and a lot of fun, but the end result was a technically Broken Chromebook.

I say “technically” because to our surprise, almost the entire chassis was still intact after the huge crash. The screen cracked and we couldn’t get the display output to work, so the Chromebook was permanently unusable after this test. Still, we didn’t lose any more keys, we had very little breakage in the chassis, and it’s possible that a replaced screen brought the device back to life.

And then we did it again. At this point, the device was toast, so we went for one more drop to see if we could get the huge plastic blast we were expecting. But this Chromebook wasn’t ready to crash, and most of them stuck together and held up even after another 2.5-story drop. This time parts of the base and lid came apart, but it was far less destructive than expected.

While it shows you that these Chromebooks aren’t invincible, it shows how tough they really are. If you are buying one for a school or for a student, keep this in mind. Of course, you should still treat it like a laptop and be careful with it as much as possible. But you can also take a breather, relax, and know that these rugged Chromebooks are ready to take on the worst treatment and live to tell the tale.

About Jon Moses

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