Rugged tablet specialist Xplore Technologies has announced a 'fully rugged' 10.1-inch Atom-based Windows (7 Pro or 8.1 Pro) tablet called Bobcat. In the world of rugged tablets, 2.2cm (0.86in.) thick and 1.09kg (2.4lbs) counts as 'thin and light', and indeed if you're in one of Xplore's target vertical markets, the Bobcat may well seem sleek and portable. However, Panasonic's 10.1-inch Toughpad FZ-G1 comes in slightly thinner and lighter, at 2.03cm (0.8in.) and 903g (1.99lbs).
Apart from being chunkier and heavier than your average tablet, rugged devices have several other defining characteristics, including an outdoor-readable touchscreen, usually with the capability to accept stylus and gloved-finger input, plenty of specialist I/O and peripheral options, hot-swap battery capability and a premium price. The Xplore Bobcat, which has MIL-STD 810G and IP65 certification, is no exception.
The 10.1-inch display is a rugged direct-bonded IPS panel with 500-nit brightness, an 800:1 contrast ratio and a resolution of 1,366 by 768 pixels (155ppi). The anti-reflective screen supports 10-point multitouch, and our review sample came with two styli, both tethered: one is housed in the optional carrying handle and a shorter one clips onto the back of the device.
The majority of the ports and slots are on the left-hand side, under a solid lockable cover: there are two full-size USB 3.0 ports, a Micro-SD card slot and a SIM card slot (stacked vertically), a Micro-HDMI port and a headphone jack. On the right side there's an 'RS-232-ready' port under a screwed-down cover plus, under a hinged cover, an RJ-45 Ethernet port and the power input. Also on this side is a volume rocker, the Autorotate on/off button and the power button.
Integrated options are plentiful, including a 1D/2D barcode scanner, a CAC reader, a fingerprint reader and NFC. Mobile LTE broadband is another option, while Bluetooth 4.0, 802.11ac wi-fi and GPS come as standard.
The Xplore Bobcat is built around Intel's 1.91GHz quad-core Atom E3845 (Bay Trail) processor, with 4GB of RAM and a 128GB Toshiba SSD (up to 240GB optional). There are two cameras: a 720p unit at the front and a 5-megapixel flash-equipped device at the back.
The Bobcat's standard internal (user-replaceable) battery is rated for up to 8 hours' usage, rising to 14 hours with the optional hot-swappable second battery that attaches to the back of the tablet.
We mentioned that rugged tablets don't come cheap, and starting at $2,199 (about £1,293) the Xplore Bobcat is certainly no casual purchase. But if you're in the sort of industry that needs a tough tablet, price will often be less important than durability. If you need an even more bomb-proof Windows tablet, Xplore offers the 'ultra-rugged' XC6 series.