Xplore XSLATE R12 Review: Rugged but Stylish Enterprise Tablet

by Reads (3,053)
  • Editor's Rating

    Ratings Breakdown (1-10)

      • Software & Support
      • 9
      • Upgrade Capabilities
      • 10
      • Usability
      • 8
      • Design
      • 8
      • Performance
      • 9
      • Features
      • 10
      • Price/Value Rating
      • 7
      • Total Score:
      • 8.71
      • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10
  • Pros

    • Screen usable outdoors
    • Very rugged
    • Loads of ports
  • Cons

    • Expensive
    • Bulky
    • Weak battery life

Quick Take

It's rough, it's tough, and it's slicker than the competition. There's a lot to like about the Xplore XSLATE R12, assuming Xplore fixes that annoying fan bug.

Tablets are great for work, but sometimes and iPad isn’t tough enough for the demands of the job… physically. That’s where rugged tablets come in, built for construction, field work, warehouses, and even law enforcement. Panasonic has its ToughBook and ToughPad series, while GammaTech has its Durabooks. The Xplore XSLATE R12 is the latest from Xplore, fresh off its recent purchase of Motion Computing.

The Xplore XSLATE R12 is a very rugged computer for the jobsite. It runs Windows in a high-end Intel Core i processor, with a solid state drive, and a 12.5-inch touchscreen. Its slick look distinguishes it from the rugged pack, which typically consists of bulky tablets, which we’ve often compared to tanks.

Xplore XSLATE R12

Xplore XSLATE R12

Xplore XSLATE R12 Build & Design

Rugged tablets are typically clunky, but the R12 is anything but; It’s actually the first computer we’ve ever seen designed to be used in the field that looks kind of cool, especially the tapered corners.

For a good example of the R12’s refinement, take a look at the Xplore XSLATE D10 from late 2015. It ran Android and sported the typical rugged tablet design, with corner bumpers and a thick display bezel. Same with the Windows-powered B10. Now, both may win in a fight against the R12, but the R12’s rugged build is designed to handle just about anything one can reasonably expect to encounter in the field.

In fact, the only ruggedized tablet we can think of that’s thinner is Samsung Galaxy Tab Active, which is very underpowered compared against the XSLATE R12.

And all this is not to say this model isn’t bulky. There’s no way to make a tablet capable of absorbing this much punishment, and that boasts this many ports, without a lot of mass. But, the R12 is considerably smaller and lighter than an average ruggedized laptop.

Xplore XSLATE R12 back panel

Xplore XSLATE R12 back panel

Xplore tested this model to meet MIL-STD-810G standard to be sure it can survive multiple 4-foot drops. The product conforms to the Class 1 Division 2 standard for hazardous locations, plus it’s water, dust and splash resistant. The LCD is covered in hard-to-crack Corning Gorilla Glass 4.

A magnesium-alloy internal frame enables this tablet to strongly resist our attempts to twist, bend, or flex it.

Xplore XSLATE R12 Display

The XSLATE R12 has a 12.5-inch, widescreen display, so it’s quite large enough to easily read documents, emails, and web pages. This screen is 1920 x 1080 pixels, giving it a density of 176 pixels per inch. That’s not a particularly high resolution (iPads run about 264 ppi) but images and text are nevertheless easily readable.

Xplore made sure this display is usable outdoors. We tested it and found that with the backlight at 100% text on the screen is quite readable. Naturally, this will drain the battery, so those planning to use the R12 outdoors should plan for it, with easy access to pre-charged replacements.

Because people using the R12 will sometimes need to be wearing gloves, this tablet comes with a Wacom active pen to use on the touchscreen instead of a fingertip. This also comes in handy for selecting the small on-screen items that sometimes appear in Windows applications.

 Xplore XSLATE R2 Wacom pen

Xplore XSLATE R12 Wacom pen

Xplore XSLATE R12 Ports, Buttons, Cameras & Speakers

Enterprise computers need to be well supplied with ports, and the XSLATE R12 doesn’t disappoint. On the right side, behind a closable door, are HDMI, USB Type-A, and headphone ports, as well as a power port. There’s a microSD memory card slot plus a Micro-SIM Card Slot (3FF) — needed to give this tablet access to 4G cellular-wireless data. Xplore includes its own docking connector, and companies that need even more can invest in an optional RS232 True Serial Port or RJ45 Gigabit Ethernet port that connect via dongle.

 Xplore XSLATE R2 inputs

Xplore XSLATE R12 inputs

The buttons on this XSLATE device are covered so that they are waterproof. They include Power and CTLT-ALT-DEL buttons on the left side, and volume control buttons on the top.

 Xplore XSLATE R2 buttons

Xplore XSLATE R12 buttons

On some consumer devices, a fingerprint scanner is built into a button, but this enterprise computer has its biometric scanner on its right edge.

 Xplore XSLATE R2 vent

Xplore XSLATE R12 vent

Those who need a camera for documentation can use the 8.0 megapixel rear-facing one, plus a 2.0 Megapixel front-facing camera is available for video chatting.

A pair of stereo speakers can be found on the bottom edge.

 Xplore XSLATE R2 speakers

Xplore XSLATE R12 speakers

Xplore XSLATE R12 Performance

The Xplore XSLATE R12 is available with Windows 10 Pro, 8.1 Pro, or 7 Pro. It’s offered in Intel Core i7-7500U and Core i5-6200U configurations, though the i7 version is only available with Win 10 Pro.

This model always has 8GB of RAM, but is available with a 128GB, 256GB or 512GB solid state drive (SSD).

The Xplore XSLATE R12 review unit that TPCR tested had the following specifications:

  • Windows 10 Professional
  • 8GB RAM
  • 512GB SSD
  • 12.5-inch Wide Viewing Angle Display
  • 1920 x 1080 pixels
  • 800 Nit Sunlight Readable
  • Corning Gorilla Glass 4 screen protection
  • Active Digitizer with Wacom Pen
  • 12.9 x 8.2 x .75 inches (328.5 x 207.5 x 19 mm)
  • 2.9 lbs. (1.34 kg.)

Xplore XSLATE R12 Benchmarks

PCMark8 Home (Accelerated) measures overall system performance in Windows for general activities from web browsing and video streaming to typing documents and playing games (higher scores mean better performance):

xplorepcmark8home

PCMark8 Work (Accelerated) measures overall system performance in Windows 8 for work-related productivity tasks (higher scores mean better performance):

xplorepcmark8work

CrystalDiskmark storage drive performance test:

 

Xplore XSLATE R12 Heat & Noise

Among the reviewer notes for this product was one that indicated Xplore is aware that the cooling fan runs almost constantly, even when it’s not necessary, and they are working to fix this issue. This fan puts out a noticeable amount of noise, and negatively affects battery life.

Because the fan is running constantly, the plastic back of the R12 never has a chance to get more than mildly warm.

We will update this review as soon as Xplore fixes the issue.

Xplore XSLATE R12 Battery

Xplore says that the R12 can last for up over 9 hours on a single charge. We put this computer through our torture test, streaming video over Wi-Fi with the screen’s backlight at 100%, to see it’s minimal time. It went for 1 hour 57 minutes. That’s a disappointing result, especially considering the mobile potential here.

Most tablets in this class last at least twice as long under similar strain. We believe the bug that makes the fan run constantly is the culprit.

One of the advantages of an enterprise-grade tablet like this one has over a typical consumer model is a hot-swappable battery, allowing the user to continue using the device with minimal delay.

The charging cables that come with the R12 don’t use the USB-C, but a classic plug, probably for backward compatibility.

Xplore XSLATE R12 Review Conclusion

Xplore XSLATE R12 with penThose who need a computer for the jobsite should consider getting one specifically designed for the elements, rather than a consumer model, especially considering extra ports and the swappable batteries. But there is a drawback: the Xplore XSLATE R12 starts at $2,649, making it considerably more expensive than a consumer tablet.

This enterprise device is more portable than a ruggedized laptop, and its touchscreen is generally easier to use in the field than mouse. Even better, an external clip-on keyboard (sold separately) can be used to convert this tablet into a 2-in-1.

We would advise checking on that fan bug before buying, however. Assuming it’s fixed, this is a tough tablet with a great look and very good performance.



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