It may be tough, but how does this rugged tablet perform under our scrutiny?
Mobile devices are well-known for being beautiful, fragile items that can break or smash at just a moment’s clumsiness. Thankfully, the industry has recognised this, and is gradually toughening up the build of everyday consumer devices. But what about those smartphones and tablets designed to be hard-wearing? TechWeekEurope got to play with Xplore’s Bobcat tablet, and it was a pretty unique experience.
Xplore is well known for its family of rugged tablets, and the Bobcat tablet carries on this reputation with gusto.
Available running either Windows 8.1 Pro or Windows 7 Pro, the 10.1in WXGA screen is bright and responsive, thanks to its support for ten finger touch interfaces. The screen itself contains anti-reflective glass, so it can be read in bright light, and the touchscreen can even be used whilst wearing gloves.
Designed to be optimised towards heavy outdoor industry, the first thing that strikes you about the device is its soundness. Despite weighing just over 1kg, the thick rubber casing means that this is not a device to be hidden away, but there’s definitely something reassuring about how rough and ready it is.
Underneath this casing, there is a magnesium midframe, which stiffens the build and helps protect the screen and the hardware below, which is also helped by the Bobcat’s raised corner bumpers to ensure it doesn’t get damaged by flying debris.
Let’s face it, this is not a device to be shown off to your friends – this is a hard-working, tough tablet that is able to put up with whatever is thrown at it.
The Bobcat is MIL-STD-810G certified and has an IP65 rating for dust and water resistance, meaning it should be able to put up with most conditions. It is also able to work in temperatures ranging from -4 °F (-20 °C) to 140 °F (60 °C), and can be stored anywhere from -22 °F to 158 °F (-30 °C to 70 °C) meaning most industries should be covered. Xplore says the Bobcat can even operate at 15,000 feet, and survive a shock of 20G when operational.
Panasonic, a leader in the rugged device industry thanks to its ToughPad and Toughbook devices, says its latest products can survive a drop from a height of 76cm. Xplore says its devices can withstand a fall from a similar height – and we can confirm this is indeed true. The Bobcat survived numerous trips to the TechWeekEurope office floor,
Along with its rugged looks, the Bobcat is also not going to win any prizes for its hardware, but that’s not to say it’s a slouch by any means. The tablet is powered by an Intel Bay Trail E3845 quad-core 1.91 GHz processor with integrated Mobile Gen7 graphics, 4GB of RAM, and comes with either a standard 128GB SSD, or optional upgrade to 256GB.
The Bobcat carries support for Bluetooth 4.0 and Wi-Fi 802.11 ac, but can also be upgraded to connect to Ethernet or 4G/LTE networks.
There’s also two USB 3.0 ports, along with connections for Micro SD, Micro HDMI-Out, Micro SIM Card Reader, meaning you should be able to connect it to a wide range of accessories.
Xplore says that the Bobcat offers ‘full-shift’ battery life, meaning it should last throughout a typical eight hour working day. However this can be expanded up to 14 hours using an additional external battery.
TechWeekEurope may be a stranger to working in extreme conditions (we don’t even have the window blinds open most days) but we can recognise a tough device when we see one. The Bobcat survived everything we threw at it, and was able to continue operating as a solid business device with all the Windows features you would expect from a work tablet.
Sure, it may not be ideal if you spend most of your time indoors, but for organisations and industries that like to get outside and get their hands dirty, the Bobcat is an ideal device for you.
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