In terms of performance, the U12C easily gets the job done, but not necessarily in spectacular fashion. It has no problem handling the basic tasks that you’re likely to use a rugged tablet for, such as jotting down notes, reading and editing Office documents, and occasionally browsing the internet. These types of machines cannot be equipped with especially powerful processors — since excessive vents for cooling them are not an option with rugged computers — so the work done on them is meant to be basic, so bear that in mind.
The test results make the U12C’s performance look pretty horrendous, but the fact of the matter is that rugged convertibles aren’t intended for heavy-duty tasks, they’re meant for heavy-duty workplaces. With a 1.2 GHz processor, it has more than enough power to handle your work, so long as you’re using it for the right purposes. In other words, as you can tell by the low 3DMark score, this machine was not intended for things like gaming, but 3D graphics performance is not what you look for in a Durabook.
PCMark05 measures overall notebook performance (higher scores are better):
wPrime comparison results (lower scores mean better performance):
3DMark06 comparison results for graphics performance (higher scores are better):
CrystalDiskMark hard drive performance test:
Heat and Noise
For a rugged convertible, the U12C produced remarkably low heat levels. Granted, this is undoubtedly due to the relatively light build of the machine, but even when compared to regular convertibles (like the Fujitsu LifeBook T580, which we recently reviewed), the U12C still comes out looking pretty good. Next to the T580, the U12C had comparable numbers, with some spots slightly lower in temperature and others only slightly higher.
The fan is also well-placed, blowing out of the back or side of the device (if using it in tablet mode), which always ensures that the hot air is blowing away from you. Part of what makes using notebooks on your lap so uncomfortable is that more often than not, the fan is located on the side, blowing onto one of your legs. This is not an issue with the U12C, and it’s part of what makes its heat generation a non-issue.
In terms of the machine’s noise, it actually was not bad at all. I have a notebook and a netbook that, at times, run significantly louder than the U12C. The fans run quietly, and any of the typical whirring and clicking you hear from a computer was kept to a minimum. Granted, I never put it through terribly arduous paces, but I was able to surf the web, compose text, view videos, and listen to music without ever hearing it get much noisier than a whisper.
Battery Life and Wireless
Wireless internet access was a breeze with the U12C, especially thanks to the aforementioned physical shortcut button that pulls up a handy Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and battery life touchscreen menu. After pulling up that menu, it’s standard for getting online via wireless internet: hit the button to turn on the wireless adapter, peruse the available networks, select the one you want (and enter a password if necessary) and you’re connected. I was able to get onto my home wireless network in a matter of seconds, no hiccups involved. The antenna built into the U12C seemed to be of good quality, too, since strength of the signal was always very healthy and never gave out on me during my time with the unit.
Battery life in the U12C was perfectly acceptable, with a single charge lasting for approximately 6 hours with mild to moderate usage (this included internet browsing, inking, watching videos, and playing music). For those who are looking for even more longevity can actually have the U12C fitted with a second battery, although the model we tested did not have this feature. The only downfall to the U12C’s battery was that, as I mentioned, its life can really take a hit if your brightness settings are too high. So as long as you keep the display brightness on a mid-range setting, you should be okay.