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MobileDemand xTablet T1200 Review: First Rugged Windows 8 Tablet

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The MobileDemand xTablet T1200 is a beast of a tablet that can go where flimsy consumer-grade tablets wouldn’t dare. It’s the first ruggedized Windows 8 tablet to hit the market and definitely worth considering for mission-critical tasks, such as responding to emergencies.

MobileDemand built the xTablet T1200 as a tool rather than a toy, which means it forgoes many of the niceties of slim tablets in favor of durability and functionality. There’s no cute colorful screen covers or promo videos for the xTablet T1200, but who cares about that when it can withstand 5ft drops onto asphalt and operate between -4° F to +140°.

We’re big fans of iPads and Android tablets, but there are instances when only a rugged tablet will do. Those considering rolling out tablets to workers who work in warehouses, construction sites and other rough environments should at least consider rugged Tablet PCs such as the xTablet T1200 before getting stuck with a bunch of tablets primarily designed for consumers. Read on to learn more about what makes the xTablet T1200 unique.

xTablet-t1200-review 1The MobileDemand xTablet T1200′s 10.4″ (1200 by 800 pixels) matte display is outdoor readable, even in direct sunlight thanks to the optional high brightness 1000-nit display. The resistive-touch display doesn’t have the same silky smooth touch experience as tablets with capacitive touch, but the tradeoffs are well worth it considering that this tablet will often be used outdoors and in inclement weather. The screen can detect touches from gloved fingers, the included stylus and just about any other pointy object.

There are a ton of proprietary applications, ERP systems and other bits of software built to run on the desktop. Unlike most tablets, the xTablet T1200 has an array of physical buttons to the right of the display, including a numeric keypad and directional buttons. This makes it much easier to  navigate fields and enter numbers on applications that aren’t optimized for touch.

Windows 8, Microsoft Office and other applications all run very smoothly on the tablet thanks to a speedy 256GB SSD and Intel Core i5 processor.  Wireless options include 3G, 4G LTE and GPS. Our review unit came with a GPS module and it quickly and accurately pinpointed locations.

As demonstrated in the above video, the MobileDemand xTablet T1200 can take a beating. It’s rated to withstand drops on all edges from five feet onto plywood over concrete. We tried dropping it from that height onto asphalt without the plywood several times and the device didn’t miss a beat. The sturdy case showed no signs of impact or wear.

The xTablet T1200 meets military specifications for dust and water intrusion. The MIL-STD 810G means the tablet can withstand a minimum of 4″ of rain per hour or 40 psi for 10 minutes from all directions while operating. Drenching the tablet with a garden hose turned up to full blast does absolutely nothing to the xTablet T1200. This is something we’d never try with an iOS or Android tablet.

 

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The xTablet T1200 has thick rubber bumpers on each corner that help cushion drops onto hard surfaces. As you can see in the above photo, MobileDemand is kind enough to use standard Phillips screws, which allows customers to easily swap out parts or remove things like the D-rings that hold the straps if they’re not needed.

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A lot of rugged tablet users simply can’t hit pause on their workdays and wait for their computer’s battery to recharge. Fortunately, the xTablet T1200 ships with dual hot-swappable batteries with a total of 116 watt hours. The pair are rated to last for up to a combined 10 hours, but users’ mileage will vary depending on screen brightness

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Doors an flaps protect numerous ports from dust, debris and moisture. The tablet has more ports and slots as some full-sized notebook computers. As pictured above, the left side of the tablet has power, mini USB, Serial and Ethernet ports. There’s also a Kensington lock slot for securing the tablet.

xTablet-t1200-review 11The opposite side has a Smart Card reader, PCMCIA slot, SD Card slot, dual USB 3.0 ports and a headphone jack.  The stylus is tethered to the top-right edge of the tablet.

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There’s a bar code scanner at the top of the xTablet T1200 that is activated by a dedicated button on the physical keypad. The xTablet T1200 has an RFID tag reader to cover the technology that is replacing bar codes in some industries.

 

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At 4.8lb, the xTablet T1200 has some heft to it, which can make it difficult to use while standing for long periods. There’s a hand strap the back to slide one hand into that makes things more comfortable. There’s a strap on the left edge of the tablet as well that’s useful for toting the tablet around one-handed. There is also a four-point harness available for those who need it.

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The top edge of the tablet has an ambient light sensor that helps the tablet adjust screen brightness automatically. There’s also a 1.3 megapixel camera on the front of the tablet that can be used for video calls. There’s a more powerful 5 megapixel camera on the rear of the tablet for snapping pictures of things like accidents, job sites and damaged inventory. The 5MP camera takes photos that are on par with many smartphones’ cameras. Like smartphone cameras, this tablet’s camera struggles in low light.

MobileDemand is promising a full complement of docks and accessories, similar to those offered on the smaller xTablet T7200. A desktop docking station and a powered vehicle mount will be available soon.

The xTablet T1200 is a solid device that is as tough as advertised. While it is much heavier and more expensive than consumer tablets, it’s the right tool for jobs where it’s important to have tablets that just work.

The xTablet T1200 is available direct from MobileDemand.

Xavier Lanier is the publisher of Gotta Be Mobile and a photographer. He uses too many devices to count, but his current favorites are the iPhone 5s, HTC One, Nikon D800 and Sony RX 100M II. You can follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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