MobileDemand's xTablet T8600 is no ordinary tablet. In fact it isn't even sold to the consumer market. You can get your hands on one of these rugged tablets if need be, but they are mostly just for the business industry. In fact one of their biggest clients is Anheuser Busch, who uses over 1,000 xTablets for distributing purposes. This military standard tablet has many other big name clients too such as Disney and FEMA.
Front view of MobileDemand's xTablet T8600. (view large image)
The MobileDemand xTablet T8600 Rugged Tablet PC specs as reviewed:
|CPU||Intel Centrino Pentium M 733 (1.1GHz)|
|OS||Windows XP Tablet PC Edition|
|Display||8.4" TFT Enhanced Brightness Transmissive LCD with digitizer and passive touchscreen|
|Hard Drive||40GB Shock Mounted 2.5 inch hard disk|
|Battery/power||High capacity 6600 mAh Li-ION battery pack|
Design and Build
The xTablet has a solid design. It is designed and built to withstand the harshest environmental conditions. It meets all military standards for rain, dust and drops. The magnesium alloy chassis helps keep it lightweight while maintaining all it's durability. The housing is a matte black, which hides dirt and scratches well.
Bar code scanner on the xTablet. (view large image)
It weighs in at 4.6 pounds, which is heavy for a tablet you would consider carrying around all day, but that isn't what the xTablet is made for. It has a docking solution, a hand strap, vehicle cradles and many mounting options that are great for working on the go. These accessories really add to the convenience factor of the xTablet.
Mag strip reader on the xTablet. (view large image)
Since the xTablet is designed for workers in the distribution, healthcare, retail and insurance industry, it's made to have options like the bar code scanner or mag strip reader. It also is one of the only rugged tablets with a numeric keypad. These options may come in handy with software your company needs to run. Nothing on the xTablet feels cheap and it has a good array of features including the pen which is tied to the machine, so you don't lose it. Having a tablet this durable makes you feel powerful, I mean it can withstand drops from three feet and be splashed with water, so you don't have to watch your clumsy self around it.
The 8.4" display is great for the purpose it serves. I can't compare it to a standard tablet like the ThinkPad X61 or anything because that just isn't what it is for. You aren't going to watch movies on this tablet or probably even listen to music, although you could listen to a few tunes. As I mentioned earlier the xTablet is made for businesses. The screen has a nice resolution and you can adjust the brightness level to your liking. There is a little graininess, but nothing major. The screen is easy to clean as well. Since the xTablet is water resistant I sprayed it a few times to see what would happen when it got wet and just as they say...nothing. I wiped the water right off and it worked as usual.
A comparison of both xTablets. (view large image)
Processor and System Performance
I had no problems browsing the Internet with the xTablet, but it really isn't used much for this purpose. Most businesses who purchase these tablets purchase them in bulk and run their own software on them. It does sport a 1.1GHz Pentium M processor, which is fine because the xTablet runs Windows XP Tablet Edition. If you do need to browse the Web though it is plenty responsive and the wireless options really help.
I didn't run all the benchmark tests because the xTablet isn't a gaming or business tablet. It is made for distributors and workers on-the-go. It can handle the day to day rigors of being knocked around. The mag strip reader is there for credit card purposes and the bar code scanner does everything from scan boxes, barcodes to paperwork. The processor has no problem handling these tasks, I even tested out the scanner and scanned some UPS boxes.
In the below results of Super Pi, where the processor is timed in calculating Pi to 2 million digits:
|Notebook||Time to Calculate Pi to 2 Million Digits|
|MobileDemand xTablet 8600 (1.1GHz Pentium M)||2m 36s|
|TabletKiosk Sahara i440D (1.83GHz LV Core Duo)||1m 19s|
|HP Compaq 2710p (1.2GHz ULV Core 2 Duo)||1m 39s|
|Lenovo ThinkPad X61 (1.6GHz Core 2 Duo)||1m 10s|
|Fujitsu LifeBook T4220 (2.2GHz Core 2 Duo)||54s|
|Gateway E-155C (1.06GHz ULV Core 2 Duo)||1m 58s|
|LG C1 (1.2GHz Intel Core Duo)||1m 49s|
|Toshiba R400 (1.2GHz ULV Core Duo)||2m 10s|
|Asus R1F (1.66GHz Core Duo)||1m 20s|
|IBM ThinkPad X41t (1.5GHz LV Pentium M)||2m 02s|
|HP TC4400 Tablet PC (2.0GHz Core Duo)||1m 13s|
|Dell Latitude X1 (1.1 GHz ULV Pentium M)||2m 40s|
|Dell Latitude D420 (1.06GHz Core Solo ULV)||2m 11s|
|Toshiba Portege M400 (1.83GHz Core Duo )||1m 19s|
Tablet PC Features / Pen
The xTablet does have some nice tablet features. It has a couple programmable buttons and it has great handwriting recognition tools. The pen is located on the back side of the xTablet and is easy to access and write with. The active digitizer helps with browsing through applications and web pages. The pen is responsive to this and accurate. I didn't have to beat up the screen to get any windows to open.
There is no keyboard with the xTablet, which really isn't a problem because you can pull up the on-screen keyboard or hand write your notes or orders. That is also why the numeric keypad is so important because many companies only need this feature for their businesses and it is right to the side. The xTablets let companies store more data then a smartphone or even some UMPCs and it gives them the luxury of ruggedness, which in the end contributes to a lower cost of ownership compared to non-rugged tablets.
The xTablet has a good array of ports, and you can get even more with certain docking solutions and the car mounts. I wouldn't be to worried about not having what you need with this rugged tablet. It has two USB ports, one microphone and headphone port, one Compact Flash type II slot, one PC Card slot, a mini-USB port, a docking connector, a serial port-9 pin and an RJ-11 and RJ-45 port. The possibilities are endless when it comes to accessories, so I think MobileDemand hit the nail on the head for this market.
Top view of the xTablet T8600 ports. (view large image)
Left side view of the xTablet T8600. (view large image)
Right side view of the xTablet T8600 ports. (view large image)
Bottom view of the xTablet T8600 ports. (view large image)
The battery life on the xTablet is great and by that I mean you can use this tablet all day with no problems. That is probably why MobileDemand uses it as one of their marketing points. I know most users don't believe it until they test it, but this battery really stays juiced for a good 7-8 hours. It is made to last for long periods of time and for professionals on-the-go. They can't have a battery that just dies. It even recharges itself when plugged in to certain car mounts and docks, so there really isn't much downtime with it.
Heat and Noise
For being such a heavy duty rugged tablet the xTablet doesn't put off much heat. I let it run for hours and browsed through many different applications and still just a little heat. It gets warm on the back side, but nothing that would make you feel uncomfortable when holding it. I am sure the casing has a lot to do with the heat resistance and the fan.
The xTablet does make a good amount of noise when the fan kicks on. It sounds like a hairdryer on high. It doesn't kick on that often, but when it does you know it and can feel the air pumping out. Besides this, the xTablet is quiet and hardly noticeable.
Back side of the xTablet T8600. (view large image)
The speakers put out decent sound. I was actually surprised by how well they sounded. There wasn't much distortion and you can adjust the volume up or down on the numeric keypad. I don't think it gets used much for listening to music, but by all means it could be and there is even a headphone port.
The xTablet doesn't come loaded with any bloatware because it is sold to companies for them to install their own software. It is basically a clean slate. It does run Windows XP Tablet PC Edition though, which has great handwriting recognition tools that come in handy considering there is no keyboard.
There are plenty of wireless options to choose from with the xTablet. It comes standard with 802.11a/b/g and Bluetooth. If you need more you can always go for the optional WAN - EV-DO, EDGE, GPRS and GSM through the PCMCIA slot. The model I reviewed just had the Intel Wireless and it worked great. It connected to my office Internet in seconds and brought up other wireless signals in the area. It had no problems with signal strength either, so no more worrying about be disconnected every five minutes, which is perfect for the worker on the go.
Overall the xTablet is a solid tablet. It complies with all military standards and was fun to test. If you need something rugged that can withstand the bumps and bruises of daily life or commuting, than this might be it. Although it is not a consumer tablet a few do get sold to normal customers. The battery life was amazing and can keep you charged and powered up the entire work day, so no losing any of that important data. It is nice to have a tablet that you don't have to worry about breaking or crashing on you. In the long run the cost averages out for customers because they have to do less maintenance with the xTablets. The weight isn't much of a factor if you use one of the accessory mounts and the wireless options really make it a go anywhere tablet.
Pricing and Availability
For more information or if you are interested in MobileDemand's xTablet T8600 check out their website for ordering details, pricing and configurations.
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