NATICK, MA--Worldwide sales of "fully rugged" mobile computers could top $743 million in 2005.

A study by Venture Development Corp. (VDC) finds world sales of the computers totaled $454.4 million in 2000 and are expected to grow by 10.3 percent annually during the next 5 years.

VDC defines a "fully rugged" mobile computer as one that meets or exceeds the MIL-STD-810F testing standard for environmental engineering. To meet the standard, a computer must operate in blowing sand and rain, and survive a 48-inch drop. The U.S. Armed Forces are increasingly relying on rugged computers for planning strike missions and covert operations.

Demand will be particularly strong for fully rugged tablet and onboard vehicular computers. Sales of those devices are expected to increase 11.9 percent and 11.2 percent, respectively.

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