- Excellent performance
- Keeps cool
- Very tough
- Windows 7 poor choice of tablet OS
- No standby mode
- No third-party stylus support
- Mediocre display
Quick TakeThe Durabook R11 offers a top-of-the-line rugged tablet experience that is hampered by its tablet-unfriendly OS, Windows 7.
The Durabook line of ruggedized computers has always been reliably tough, and that extends to the tablets. We tested one of its most recent models, the Durabook R11, and liked what we saw.
Like many tablets focused on industrial uses, this model runs Windows 7. It has an 11.6-inch display and an Intel Core i5 processor.
Read on to see what makes the R11 such a standout offering.
Build and Design
This may be stating the obvious, but the R11 is a beast. The whole point of these rugged tablets is to take a beating and keep ticking, and this device has toughness in spades. The R11 is compliant with MIL-STD 810G, meaning it’s resistant to shock, vibration, water, and dust. In an especially clever move, the bumpers on the device’s corners bulge outwards, meaning that they’re the only part of the tablet that make contact with a surface in the event of a drop – which the R11 can withstand up to four feet. This is especially useful in protecting the screen; you’d basically have to intentionally smash this thing on a corner to crack the display.
Despite its toughness, the R11 actually isn’t too unwieldy. While we wouldn’t say that it’s comfortable to hold it one-handed for extended periods of time, it’s certainly feasible; it’s only 20 millimeters (0.79 inches) thick and weighs in at 2.73 pounds. So in the realm of ruggedized tablets, the R11 is relatively svelte.
The 11.6-inch TFT WXGA LCD display on the R11 is decent, even if it won’t make your eyeballs bleed. What it lacks in punchiness it makes up for in brightness, even on a middle setting. Of course, this is a rugged tablet and users aren’t likely picking it up for a cutting-edge display, so it’s easy to overlook the graininess and say that it’s good enough to get the job done.
The responsiveness of the display’s touchscreen could use some work, however, as many taps need to be repeated once or twice before they register properly.
Buttons and Ports
For a tablet whose sole purpose is a relatively simple one — to be tough — the Durabook R11 has a surprising amount going on in terms of buttons and ports. The top edge is devoid of any features except a vent, while the left side houses the power button and volume rocker, both of which are rubberized.
Then there’s the right side, which features a covered selection of different ports. After pushing away the rubber-sealed cover (which is attached to the device on a hinge), users can access a SIM card slot, two USB 3.0 slots, a microSD port, and a headphone jack.
There are also three capacitive buttons located on the bezel around the edges of the display. There’s one to the left of the screen that serves as a shortcut key (it comes out of box programmed to launch Internet Explorer when tapped), there’s another button to the right that launches the camera and, perhaps most perplexingly, a Windows home key centered on the bottom. The latter would make sense if this was a Windows 8 tablet (the key even features the Windows 8 logo), where the capacitive Windows key would take you to the tile-ridden home screen. But this is a Windows 7 machine, so all it does is pull up the Start menu, at which point you have to attempt to navigate it on screen with a series of taps.
Finally, there’s a charging port on the bottom of the device, along with a pair of mounting threads and a contact point for docking systems.
There’s also a speaker (read: just one) on the back of the tablet in the lower left-hand corner. It might as well not exist though because it’s embarrassingly tiny and tinny, and even at max volume it can barely be heard. To be fair, media consumption isn’t a top priority for rugged tablet users, but sound is still useful in some productivity scenarios, right?