DRS ARMOR C12 Rugged Tablet PC First Look Review

by Reads (60,559)

Have you ever wanted to surf the Web, check your email, or play solitaire during the middle of a torrential downpour (while outside)? What about wanting a notebook that will never have heat problems from dust build-up inside the exposed heatsinks? Well for those of you wanting a convertible notebook that can stand up to almost anything, look no further than the DRS ARMOR C12 convertible 12" notebook. This thing can take almost anything you throw at it, without hurting it one bit.

The ARMOR C12 rugged tablet. (view large image)

DRS ARMOR C12 Convertible Tablet Specifications as reviewed (base price $3,050):

  • Processor: 1.2GHz (ULV) Intel Core Solo Processor U1400
  • Memory: 2.5GB (512MB soldered x 2GB removable)
  • Storage: 60GB hard disk drive, removable, shock-mounted
  • Display: 12.1-inch sunlight-readable LCD (XGA: 1024 x 768)
  • Input: full-size 84-key keyboard with backlight, pressure-sensitive touchpad, 6 Tablet buttons (10 functions)
  • Operating System: Microsoft Windows XP Tablet PC
  • PCMCIA card Type II
  • Secure Digital (SD) memory card
  • Interface serial port, analog RGB output (UXGA: 1600 x 1200)
  • 3 x USB 2.0
  • Mic/line in mini jack (stereo), line-out mini jack (stereo)
  • LAN (10/100/1000 Ethernet), 56 K V.92 modem
  • Wireless LAN integrated IEEE 802.11 a/b/g Wi-Fi
  • Audio monaural speaker, PCM record / replay
  • Weight: 5.2 lbs. (2.5 kg) including battery
  • Dimensions: 11.2 x 10 x 1.9 inches (28.4 x 25.5 x 4.8 centimeters)

Build and Design

The DRS ARMOR C12 notebook is designed to take a massive beating with transmitting the least amount of shock and vibration to the internal components. The sides and corners are all protected with thick rubber padding, the hard drive is suspended inside a foam bay, and every single external port is covered with a flexible rubber cap.

The C12 chilling in the snow. (view large image)

Build quality is top notch with the entire chassis being a durable alloy. Screen flex is non-existent, even under strong pressure from your hands. The entire body is sealed from outside conditions, including the notebook cooling system that is entirely passive.


The display is a passive 12" touchscreen that is readable even in direct sunlight. One nice perk with the tablet design is they moved the screen’s brightness controls to the outer edge of the screen, so you can adjust the screen even when the tablet is in the slate position.


The hard drive is a standard 2.5" model, suspended in a cage of foam, deep inside the notebook. A thick metal panel provides access to the drive, which is connected by flexible cable to the motherboard. This isolates the drive from shock, giving you reliable system performance even in stressful environments.


Front view of the C12 with hand strap. (view large image)

Left side view of the C12. (view large image)

Right side view of the C12. (view large image)

Back view of the C12. (view large image)

Under side view of the C12. (view large image)


This notebook has an Intel U1400 Core Solo processor, running at 1.2GHz. You might be asking why it doesn’t have a faster processor, or even a dual core model, but you have to remember that the notebook is passive cooled. Any excess heat is dissipated through the metal chassis and not through a vent. System performance was very peppy, regardless of the slower processor. With the lighter operating system load of Windows XP, the notebook flew through all basic tasks.

Comparison Results for PCMark05

PCMark05 measures the systems performance as a whole.

Notebook PCMark05 Score
DRS ARMOR C12 (Intel Core Solo 1.2GHz ULV, Intel 945GMS chipset) 1,606 PCMarks
Motion Computing F5 (Intel Core Solo 1.2GHz, Intel 945GMS chipset) 1,557 PCMarks
Fujitsu LifeBook P1620 (Intel Core 2 Duo 1.2GHz ULV, Intel 945GMS chipset) 2,113 PCMarks
Asus R1E (Intel Core 2 Duo 2.4GHz, GMA 965 chipset) 4,679 PCMarks
Gateway C-140x (Intel Core 2 Duo 2GHz, ATI X2300 HD graphics) 4,342 PCMarks
Fujitsu LifeBook T4220 (Intel Core 2 Duo 2.2GHz, GMA X3100 graphics) 4,171 PCMarks
HP tx2000 (AMD Turion 64 X2 2.3GHz, Nvidia Go 6150 graphics) 3,738 PCMarks
Lenovo ThinkPad X61 (Intel Core 2 Duo 1.6GHz, GMA X3100 graphics) 3,473 PCMarks
Toshiba Portege M700 (Intel Core 2 Duo 2.2GHz, GMA 965 chipset) 3,399 PCMarks
HP tx1000 (AMD Turion X2 2.0GHz, Nvidia Go 6150) 3,052 PCMarks
Lenovo ThinkPad X60t (1.66GHz LV Core Duo) 2,860 PCMarks
Asus R1F (1.66GHz Core Duo, Intel GMA 950 graphics) 2,724 PCMarks
HP Compaq 2710p (Intel Core 2 Duo ULV 1.2GHz, GMA X3100 graphics) 2,453 PCMarks
Fujitsu LifeBook T2010 (Intel Core 2 Duo ULV 1.2GHz, GMA X3100 graphics) 2,334 PCMarks
Gateway E-155C (Intel Core 2 Duo ULV 1.06GHz, Intel GMA 950 graphics) 2,205 PCMarks
Toshiba R400 (Intel Core Duo ULV 1.2GHz, Intel GMA 950 graphics) 2,187 PCMarks


HDTune Test:

Stay tuned for our full review of the ARMOR C12, which will be coming later this week, and find out how well this rugged convertible notebook holds up against my slippery butter finger treatment. As you can see it has already been tested in the Cincinnati rain and snow.

The C12 submerged in the snow. (view large image)




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