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Break me if you can: 4 rugged tablets put to the test

Brian Nadel | March 4, 2015
The gold standard for ruggedness is the Military Standard 810G rating (also known as MIL-STD-810G), a set of protocols that the U.S. Department of Defense uses to assess mobile computers.

In addition to 1.5GB of RAM, the Galaxy Tab Active tablet has a micro-SD card slot for taking the system beyond its 16GB of solid state storage. It also has a Near Field Communications (NFC) chip, so you can transfer data by putting it near another NFC-equipped system.

Because — at 5.0 x 8.4 x 0.4 in. and 1.1 lb. — it's so much smaller and lighter than its rugged Windows cousins, I found the Galaxy Tab Active to be the easiest to grasp, hold and write with.

Bottom line

The Galaxy Tab Active slate comes with a one-year warranty. If your company is looking into Android apps for work, this is a survivor that can handle being dropped, spilled on and shaken.

Conclusions

While I admire the thought, care and engineering that has gone into these rugged tablets — as well as their ability to shrug off my torture tests — all rugged tablets are not created equal.

Starting with the smallest, lightest and least expensive of the four, the Samsung Galaxy Tab Active is the closest to a consumer slate. Still, it proved to be more than tough enough when I tried to break, drown or shake it apart. It's designed for companies that want to use Android apps in the workplace and not have to continually replace broken equipment.

It may be the most mobile of the three Windows tablets, but the Mobile Demand xTablet Flex 10 isn't fully waterproof. Still, its $695 price tag makes it a good choice for a business that wants a Windows tablet for semi-mobile workers.

By contrast, the Getac F110 is fully rugged, and I love its three-year bumper-to-bumper warranty. It's got a nice big screen, but the 1,368 x 768 resolution display was second best for viewing images and video. It's also a heavyweight at over three pounds and is the most expensive of the three Windows tablets at $2,900 — so it's probably best to go for this one if you really need something that will take a beating.

That leaves Panasonic's ToughPad FZ-G1, which weighs a reasonable (for this class of tablet) 2.2 lb. Its combination of a heavy-duty frame, magnesium case and hardened screen mean that it can take a beating and come back for more.

On the other hand, the fact that its screen blanked out after being dropped from 4-feet onto concrete was a little annoying, although the system survived without any damage. All in all, chances are that the ToughPad can survive whatever your employees mete out and be the value choice in the long run.

 

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