Posted: 12:00 a.m. Saturday, April 27, 2013
By John Brandon
Check out the most durable tablets on the market.
When you think of tablets, the word rugged doesn't usually spring to mind. These durable models are designed to withstand a range of abuse, including drops, spills, and even full submersion in water. We roughed them up to see if they're as tough as advertised.
Dell Latitude 10
Best for: Smaller budgets
A great option in the business-rugged category, the 1.47-pound Latitude has a magnesium-alloy case and durable 10.1-inch LCD screen. The speedy Windows 8 tablet has front- and rear-facing cameras, as do the other models we tested, and an optional fingerprint scanner. It comes with a trial version of Microsoft Office 2010 and lasts 10 hours fully charged. During our test, it survived a 4-foot drop onto a low-pile carpet. One complaint: The screen was hard to read in direct sunlight. Cost: $649 for a 1.8GHz processor, 2GB of RAM, and 64GB of storage, plus $100 for the docking station pictured above
Best for: Extreme conditions
This fully rugged Android 4.1 tablet has a soft plastic outer shell and a 7-inch LCD screen. Unlike the other tablets here, the 1.7-pound Getac is fully waterproof and can operate in subzero temperatures. During our test, it survived a 6-foot drop onto carpet. The screen was less responsive after we dunked the tablet underwater but returned to normal when it dried. The tablet, which lasts 10 hours fully charged, comes with custom apps and has an optional bar-code scanner and radio-frequency identification reader. Downsides: It was a bit slow, and the screen was hard to see in direct sun. Cost: $1,499 for a 1GHz processor, 1GB of RAM, and 16GB of storage
Panasonic Toughpad FZ-A1
Best for: Fieldwork
This 2.1-pound, fully rugged tablet has a magnesium-alloy case and a 10.1-inch antiglare screen that was easy to read in direct sunlight. A plastic insert popped off the camera when we dropped the tablet 4 feet onto concrete, but it was otherwise unscathed. It also withstood a dousing with a bottle of water. Another plus? The Toughpad, which runs on the Android 4.0 operating system and lasts 10 hours fully charged, can be equipped with a bar-code reader. It also comes loaded with a few apps, including Google Maps and Adobe Reader. Cost: $1,299 for a 1.2GHz processor, 1GB of RAM, and 16GB of storage
Fujitsu Stylistic Q702
Best for: Versatility
You can use the 1.87-pound Stylistic as a tablet or attach it to an included QWERTY keyboard to transform it into a laptop. The business-rugged tablet, which runs on Windows 7, has a magnesium-alloy case, an 11.6-inch screen, and a fingerprint scanner. It survived being dropped 4 feet onto a carpet and sprayed with a sink hose. The Stylistic, which comes with a trial version of Office 2010, was the fastest tablet in our test group. Two drawbacks: The tablet's screen was unreadable in direct sunlight, and it lasts just five hours on a full charge. Cost: $1,399 for a 1.8GHz processor, 4GB of RAM, and 128GB of storage