A cheap but limited rugged tablet that proves you get what you pay for. Whether that's a good thing or not depends on your needs.
From rugged laptop maker Gammatech, the Durabook CA10 offers Windows 7 in a rough-and-tumble casing for field workers. Is it worth the money? We investigate.
Build and Design
Despite being called a "Durabook," one could be lead to believe that this is a notebook; but the semi-rugged CA10 is a pure tablet, with no keyboard unless you attach one via USB.
The CA10 is designed specifically for certain types of enterprise use: inventory tracking, the manufacturing sector, delivery personnel, things like that. To that end, it's hardened against drops, impacts, crushing, and vibration, to the point that a 200+ pound man can stand on top of it without even fazing it. Incidentally, you can thank our Test Lab Director for actually proving that and providing photos.
It's what the CA10 isn't designed for, though, which is what makes it only "semi" rugged -- namely, things that the target demographic of enterprise users aren't likely (or at least, supposed) to run into. Immersion in water, splashing with water, salt spray, dust, things of that nature. It's designed for a warehouse, not a wilderness adventure. Of course at 1.6 inches thick and weighing in around three pounds, you might feel like a backpack was appropriate at times. To offset this, the Durabook comes with a nylon strap handle as standard equipment, and an optional four-point harness.
That said, it's rather apples to oranges to compare the Durabook to anything more consumer oriented, since it'll put up with things that would kill an iPad with ease. Not that you're likely to confuse the two. The Durabook is exactly as chunky and industrial as it looks, with a thick grey plastic shell and heavy bumpers to provide all that damage resistance. Elegance is not ever an issue here.
Unlike many other tablets, the CA10 uses an older style resistive touchscreen, rather than a modern capacitive. This is largely dictated by environment -- users of the CA10 may need to be wearing gloves, and capacitive styluses aren't as accurate as resistive ones, particularly for all the tiny little buttons on Windows 7. Unlike most older resistive screens though, it is capable of registering two points of pressure at once, making basic pinch to zoom features practical, if your app supports them.
The CA10 is also offered with an optional upgraded screen, offering higher contrast and 500 nits of brightness in order to enable it to be seen even outdoors in full daylight. Definitely a valuable upgrade if the target market is field data collection, deliverymen, or other outdoors workers, although if you get this option you can expect to take a hit in battery life.
Other Buttons and Ports
Relative to most tablets, the CA10 has a plethora of connectivity options, although it's relatively in-line with other rugged tablets. It features two full-size USB ports, one RJ-45 network connector, and even an old legacy serial port for those users who might need to interface with older machinery, diagnostic equipment, etcetera.
There's also a docking connector for added accessories, a smart card reader built into the back, and a full-size SD card slot for removable storage, theoretically up to 256GB. A nice addition considering that the base model only comes with 32GB of memory, of which most of that would be taken up by Windows 7. Case in point, on our 64GB review model, we were left with 39.3 GB free out of the box. A 32GB model would likely end up with around 10GB free, or less. An SD card provides a cheap means of providing expanded memory.
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