- Editor's Rating
- It's rugged and tough as nails
- Great pen navigation
- Easily accessible screen brightness controls
- Heats up quickly and gets very toasty
- Lacks fingerprint recognitionand programmable button mapping out of box
- Very expensive for computing power
The Armor X10gx is as tough as advertised and ideal for perfect for basic computing tasks in rough environments. Just watch out for its heat and high price.
Meet the toughest tablet on the block, the Armor X10gx from DRS Tactical Systems. While the iPad and its Android rivals attempt to wow users with flashy UIs and cute applications like Angry Birds, the X10gx is content to sit tight and take any abuse the user or environment can dish out.
The X10gx is IP 67 & MIL-STD-810G certified, meaning it can withstand four-foot drops on concrete and temperatures ranging from -4 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, in addition to humidity and altitude pressures that would render the iPad an expensive brick.
In short, the X10gx is a tank of a tablet, a tank I had the pleasure of test-driving in this TabletPCReview rugged tablet PC evaluation.
DRS Technologies Armor X10gx specifications:
- Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate
- IntelCore2 Duo 1.2GHz Processor SU9300
- 10.4″ / 26.2 cm XGA 1024 x 768 Transmissive sunlight-readable LCD
- 2GB DDR3 800MHz SDRAM, expandable to 4GB
- 64GB solid-state drive
- 2.0 MP Webcam with barcode reading capability
- 802.11 a/g/n MIMO 2×3 Wireless LAN connectivity (WLAN), Bluetooth v2.0 + EDR (Class 2) Bluetooth
- Twin hot-swappable lithium ion battery packs (11.1V, 2400 mAHr each)
- 11.4 x 8.6 x 1.8 inches
- 4.7 lbs with handle and one battery
- MSRP: $3,760
- Drop/Shock: Certified to 4 ft / 1.2 m, MIL-STD-810G, Method 516.5
- Sealing: IP67 IEC 60529 egress
Compatibility with Cat II Chemical Solvents, Cat III Cleaners and
Cat IV Industrial Chemicals
- Temperature: -4 to +140 F / -20 to +60 C Operating
-40 to +158 F / -40 to +70 C Storage
68 F / 20 C min temperature shock operating
- Humidity: +40 to 140 F / +5 to 60 C, 95% RH
- Altitude: 20,000 ft / 6,096 m
- Vibration: 30g, 11ms, half-sine operational shock
- Hazardous Location: ISAFE: UL 1604 Class I, Division 2, Groups A, B, C and D; CSA C22.2
No. 213-M1987; EN60079-0, EN60079-15:2005 (ATEX), ESD 22 kV
BUILD & DESIGN
The X10gx will not win any beauty pageants, but that doesn’t matter. This is a tough slab of tablet.
The overall chassis consists of extremely tough and lightly textured plastic. It’s solid and shows absolutely no signs of flex. Each corner of the device sports an equally tough rubber stopper for added drop protection, which can actually be removed with some forceful (and I do mean forceful!) prying.
There is no physical keyboard — this is a tablet in the true sense. The display side features three programmable buttons, fingerprint scanner, a function button that works in conjunction with the programmable buttons for three additional programmable options, a lock key, and power button. There are also six indicator lights displaying WiFi, GPS, WWAN, hard drive, battery and power status. Next to them is an ambient light sensor that automatically adjusts the display brightness in accordance with the lighting conditions.
Unfortunately, the fingerprint scanner does not work out of the box, and according to Armor, it requires “specialized software that is not provided with the X10gx.
Opposite the display side, on the back of the tablet are the two battery compartments with separate gauge displays; the Armor Flexspace Compartment where users can input an SSD, SIM card or custom card (for example, an RFID or contactless card reader); external GPS and WiFi/WWan antenna slots; memory module compartment; and a docking connector. There is also a 2-megapixel webcam and barcode scanning software.
At close to five pounds, the X10gx is far from light. Fortunately, it sports a sturdy handle that is well secured under the rubber stops. The handle doubles as a convenient hiding spot for the active pen, which is also tethered to the handle strap. According to the X10gx documentation, the rugged tablet also ships with a shoulder strap. However, it was not included with my review unit.
Screen and Speakers
On any rugged tablet, the display is the most vulnerable — and valuable — piece of real estate. The 10.4-inch X10gx LCD screen (1024 x 768) is just as tough as its chassis. I pressed it as hard as I could in an attempt to make it bleed, applying enough pressure to crack any standard LCD, and the X10gx would not give. I wouldn’t recommend stacking bricks on it, but under what circumstance would that action even be necessary?
I was most impressed by its glare resistance. Again, the X10gx was designed for outdoor use, so it can handle the sun. TabletPCReview measured the brightness at 663 nits and the contrast ratio at 705:1. On a standard consumer notebook or tablet, those are very good numbers. On a rugged tablet designed for less hospitable environments, they are more than adequate. However, I have seen rugged tablets like the Getac V100 claim a brightness rating of 1,200 nits (many Times Square displays are rated at 1,500 nits), which may behelpful to theeyes under a desert sung, but is a serious drain on the battery.
The Armor X10gx makers packed plenty of brightness control into the device. The P keys can be assigned for on-the-fly adjustments, and brightness can also be controlled via an Armor utilities application and the standard Windows control panel. Finally, users can set the X10gx to “Automatic” in the Armor utilities app and let the on-board ambient light sensor determine the setting.
The one drawback to the display is that all its protective layers slightly muddy the resolution. It’s not overly distracting, but it’s certainly noticeable.
The protective layers also decrease the X10gx touch sensitivity. Any fingertip navigation will require a hearty push, even after calibration. The pen sensitivity remains unaffected, however. In fact, the pen navigation is superb. After calibration, I was able to keep the pen approximately an inch off the screen and the X10gx digitizer never lost me. Handwriting notes was also a smooth experience, as good as any I’ve had on a Windows 7 tablet PC.
You’ve probably figured then that the X10gx sports a dual display. As soon as it senses the pen (when the pen is approximately a centimeter away), it disables touch, preventing any errant palm-press navigation. Armor claims that future updates will bring pen-only and touch-only modes, but they were not available at press time.
The X10gx display can rotate, though only manually or through hotkeys assigned to an external keyboard. It would be great if you could assign screen rotation to the three programmable keys, but alas, those buttons can only be assigned brightness control out of the box. In the manual, Armor recommends freeware programs to map the buttons to additional functions and applications.
The X10gx has two speakers tucked under the case just above the display. The sound quality is seriously compromised and muffled as a result of their location, but I suppose hiding them is necessary in keeping the device military-grade tough.
It’s also worth mentioning the X10gx has two on-board sets of noise-canceling mics, each situated for landscape or portrait screen orientation.
Input and Output Ports & Compartments
On its right panel, the X10gx has a standard USB port, 9-pin serial port, headphone/speaker/mic jack, and a latched compartment hiding a Smart Card, SDHC, and PCI ExpressCard slot. The compartment is very secure and I had a hard time unlatching it.
On the left panel are two USB 2.1 ports, DisplayPort connector (for a second display through a DisplayPort cable, which is not included), Ethernet port, and an AC adapter input.
The Armor Flexspace Compartments mentioned in the Build & Design section that cover access to the SSD, SIM card slot and RAM are near impossible to remove. Try as I might, they resisted my prying. In the documentation, Armor claims, “This compartment should only be accessed by a qualified technician in a controlled environment.” I suppose qualified technicians are also much stronger than I, or they have the proper tools for the job.