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Portables Handhelds The Military

The $5,600 Tablet 96

An anonymous reader writes "Tablets have come a long way in the past few years, and it has become possible to find a capable device for under $200. But what about the tablets pushing toward the high end of the spectrum? Xplore Technologies sells a line of tablets that top out at $5,600. Who on earth would pay that much? The military, of course. 'The DMSR models both have handles and are encased in tough protective covers. They can be dropped more than 2 meters onto a plywood floor and 1.2 meters onto concrete, and can operate in temperatures between -30 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit (-34 to 60 degrees Celsius). They've been tested to the U.S. military's tough MIL-STD-810G standard for extreme conditions. The tablets run Windows and come with Intel's latest Core i5 or i7 Haswell processors. Solid-state drive options extend to 480GB. ... They display images at 1024 x 768 resolution. That's less than some cheaper Windows tablets, but Xplore claims to offer excellent LCD visibility in sunlight thanks to a display luminescence of 1,300 NITS. The tablets have internal fans but can still run for up to eight-and-a-half hours on a 10-cell battery, Xplore said. They weigh a hefty 2.4 kilograms.'"
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The $5,600 Tablet

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    I know plenty people who need their smartphone rugged like this.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I know plenty of smartphones that survives the drop-test and the temperature test. Once the phones got light enough they stopped breaking when hitting the floor and the flimsy plastic is flexible enough to just make them bounce once.
      The big difference is that they aren't guaranteed to survive and probably won't if they hit the floor at an unfortunate angle.

  • by Doofus ( 43075 ) on Wednesday April 23, 2014 @05:24AM (#46821259)
    I handled procurement of a few of these for a client two years ago. They are impressive for their sturdiness and resistance to the environment, and I was able to view the screen very well even in the mid-day sunlight. The model I played with was everything the summary described and a bit more. It was submersible for up to two hours in salt or fresh water as long as the ports were sealed with the silicone port glands.

    It is an impressive device for what it provides to people on the move in challenging environments.
    • by isfry ( 101853 )

      About 6 years ago a place i worked looked at these and a few other brands. They were using tough books but needed something more. We were looking to buy in a quality that got vendors out in person and let us do the stress test. If i remember correctly the Xplore was throw through a truck cab and into corner of a curb and the only that thing broke was the stylus. we also threw it into a fountain and it worked and the drop from the hood and roof of the truck. This was with a spinning disk and no SSD at the ti

    • by jovius ( 974690 )

      It's not unlike the professional field recorders. Who would need a field recorder that costs thousands of dollars? Quite a many. Durability, longevity, solid service promise and practical usability costs, and the production numbers are not high It's not about the price but having the right tool; the users of such tools also readily know what to do with them and are a demanding bunch of people.

  • by cripkd ( 709136 ) on Wednesday April 23, 2014 @05:33AM (#46821289) Homepage
    Bear Grylls would open it with a coconut and a shoelace, pee in it and then survive a week by eating its insides.
  • But are they bulletproof?

  • All are very useful when operating a drone

  • So it runs Windows? Who cares if it survives a fall or in Antarctica, as soon as you connect it to the net it will be infested with malware and virii!
  • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Wednesday April 23, 2014 @06:09AM (#46821361) Homepage

    I rock a Panasonic Toughbook laptop and a Panasonic Toughbook tablet.

    Toughpad FZ-A1 for my android tablet and a toughbook 31 I carry for work more money in tablet and laptop than most of you have every owned in your car. I work in very dusty and dirty environments programming smartbuildings while they are under construction.

    The number of people that whine the ,"OMG why did you buy that expensive thing" I then drop it on it's edge from 4 feet and then ask if their Nexus 7 is "the exact same thing" that they drop their on the edge right now. I own a nexus 7 they break if you look at them funny. I can read the screens better in direct sunlight, consumer tablets are unusable out in the direct sun.

    Note: panasonic is a lot cheaper than this botique brand, and the Govt uses them on a regular basis.

    • Thanks, Lumpy, I came here looking for a mention of Panasonic's offerings. My personal laptop is a Toughbook - yeah, they rock!. I get knowing nods from the Commissionaires at airport security... If the military needs Windows on their tablets, they can get a Toughpad FZ-G1 for half the price of the Xplore - and the display, at 1920 x 1200 pixels, is even brighter than Xplore's offering. As per the spec sheet, the standard operating time of 8 hours can be extended to 18 hours (!) with the optional batter
    • I was encountered a Panasonic ruggedized Tablet. I felt sorry for the poor people who had to use it, the screen was terrible and impossibly dark. I would imagine anyone using it outdoors would have to work by feel alone...

    • by guises ( 2423402 )
      You can buy a Toughpad 4K for $6000 if you want. Panasonic seems to have these guys beat in every category, including most expensive.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      Toughpad FZ-A1 for my android tablet and a toughbook 31 I carry for work more money in tablet and laptop than most of you have every owned in your car.

      A quick search on prices shows that you can get both for about $5k.

      Apparently you either think that everyone on /. is working part-time for minimum wage or you think cars are still priced like they were in the 70s. Either way, you sound like a condescending fucktard.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Nice advertisement you got there.

    Rather then talk about the technicalities behind why and how modern day hardware has allowed us to build a reasonably specced ruggedized system (there have always been rugged computers, but they usually came at a cost- both a high price, and significantly lower speed then what you could get as a consumer or business grade system), you're blasting us with this obvious advertisement that really doesn't give a shit about that and just blabbers on about this one particular compa

  • by PsyMan ( 2702529 )
    Will it blend?
  • What's the point of making a rugged system that can survive all that and then putting Windows on it?

    • Why, oh why, would anyone go through the trouble of making hardware that could survive those extreme conditions and then put Windows(!?!?!?!?) on it? Talk about the most pointless exercise ever. They couldn't be bothered to go check what the OS market share for tablets was? Hell, I wouldn't surprised if those tablets were running Windows XP. If you're going to choose to go stupid, might as well double down.

      I can't help but think of the old saying "A fool and his money are soon parted."

  • Oh, they run Windows... nevermind. Carry on.

  • by BusterB ( 10791 ) on Wednesday April 23, 2014 @07:33AM (#46821641)
    For that price, you could buy 50 regular Android tablets and luggage to keep them in. Just grab a new tablet when you break one.
    • But those tablets couldn't run windows (xp)! We can't have that!
    • Yeah, not sure how you'd provision it out in the field though...

    • When you're shipping everything across the globe by C-130, HMMWV, and raw human horsepower, you're a bit bound by volume and weight.

    • For that price, you could buy 50 regular Android tablets and luggage to keep them in. Just grab a new tablet when you break one.

      That's fine... unless you have data saved on the broken tablet.

      • You're missing the part where if a slashtard gives you a dismissive alternate solution, and you can't use it because it misses some critical and non-negotialbe criterion in your use case, it's your fault because your cow isn't spherical enough.

        Welcome to Slashdot, where all the Windows are evil, all the grits are hot, and your problem doesn't matter because it doesn't conform to someone else's biases.

      • MicroSD cards aren't particularly breakable. That's where you put your data.
    • What about the apps and data on the broken tablet?
      Would those backup tablets even survive being transported around a battlefield?
      How would those tablets back at base help if your tablet broke while on patrol?

      You are talking about non-mission critical civilian use and comparing it to mission critical military use. Sorry but there are different requirement for reliability in those two situations.

  • by jchawk ( 127686 ) on Wednesday April 23, 2014 @08:23AM (#46821933) Homepage Journal

    That these tablets never leave the truck or tank because they are heavy and very likely not all that usable.

    We tooled around with a general dynamics tablet with similar capabilities and it wasn't good for anything except blocking bullets.

  • by Murdoch5 ( 1563847 ) on Wednesday April 23, 2014 @09:00AM (#46822205)
    1.2 Meters onto concrete or 2 Meters onto wood is not extreme by and standard, extreme would mean it could take a 40 cal bullet right to the screen and not break, or drop from 100 meters onto concrete. Also a tablet running Windows for field use dangerous on its own right. I would really hope I'm not the solder in the field who has to deal with blue screens on the battle field.
    • by bws111 ( 1216812 )

      It's way past time to put that old trope to bed. I have seen way more Android and iOS devices spontaneously reboot than I ever saw blue screens. The only difference is, the spontaneous reboots provide absolutely NO information about why they happened, and the name of the product that DETECTED (not necessarily caused) the problem is not displayed, so people are far more likely to blame 'the hardware', etc whereas with a blue screen it is always WINDOWS that blue screened.

      • Oh that's fair, but if you want stability you have to use either BSD or Linux / Unix. Mobile operating systems are designed for phone and not stability or rock solid operation. Windows 7 and 8 still blue screen more then an acceptable amount, also Androids crash logs are immensely powerful for debugging, they contain much more information then was ever shown from a blue screen.
  • The US Army now favors commodity Android smartphones with well designed cases over tablets like these.

    http://www.army.mil/article/10... [army.mil]

    $3000+ tablets that weigh several pounds do not make sense in many roles.

    What does make sense is $200 - $400 Android smartphones/tablets with waterproof shock cases that weigh less than a pound with better battery life.

  • but ... can they be operated with bloody, grimy or gravelly fingers?
  • Don't get me wrong, surviving a 2 meter drop is pretty good compared to most consumer products these days. Still.. I would expect much much better from a $5600 tablet marketed to the military. It should at least survive a couple of stories!

    • Don't get me wrong, surviving a 2 meter drop is pretty good compared to most consumer products these days. Still.. I would expect much much better from a $5600 tablet marketed to the military. It should at least survive a couple of stories!

      If the user falls a couple of stories, he's dead and doesn't need the tablet anymore.

      If the user DROPS the tablet off a building, and it falls a couple of stories, you really don't want the bad guys to be recovering a usable tablet before you can run downstairs and locat

      • The milstd seems to be designed so the tablet will survive the sort of things that happen in combat that are recoverable for the user (if you come under fire, diving to the ground is likely to break any civilian tablet when you land on it), but not survive the sort of thing where the user has no real chance to recover the tablet....

        Meh. That's what WP is for. Put in that lock code incorrectly 10 times? Screw wiping the encryption key from the device. Just ignite some WP and watch that flash cook. Burn baby, burn!

      • >>If the user falls a couple of stories, he's dead and doesn't need the tablet anymore.

        Not necessarily. It depends on how he lands and on what. It's just as likely the user REALLY needs the tablet after the fall as entertainment while the broken bones heal.

  • I own a motion computing tablet. Their current model meets the same 810G standard, appears to have the same features available and costs about half.
  • "The tablets run Windows"

    The military is getting ripped off.

  • by roc97007 ( 608802 ) on Wednesday April 23, 2014 @12:15PM (#46824465) Journal

    missile_guidance.exe has stopped working.
    A problem caused the program to stop working correctly.
    Windows will close the program and notify you if a solution is available.

  • Quote from the article:

    "The durability keeps maintenance costs down, and the company provides a three-year warranty."

    They must have had a lot of maintenance costs.

  • I'm sorry but super VGA is not acceptable in a five thousand dollar tablet. Most Windows software made in the last ten years won't even work at that resolution. I don't care if you can read it under molten lava, if the resolution is so low as to break the device's functionality there's no justification for purchasing it.

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