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GammaTech Durabook R11 puts rugged tablets on a diet

At 2.76 pounds, this new Windows tablet is the lightest 11.6-inch ruggedized slate on the market, according to its maker.

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Rugged tablets are usually marketed for their ability to withstand extreme conditions with features like sunlight-readable displays , with little attention given to comfort. That's likely because adding shock-resistant bumpers and carrying handles add heft along with the convenience of working outdoors safely. Sure, there are smaller ruggedized tablets like the 7-inch Panasonic Toughpad FZ-M1, but you lose valuable screen size and settle for less powerful specs.

With its new Durabook R11, GammaTech is hoping to make full-sized rugged tablets a little less weighty. It claims the R11 is the lightest model in its class of 11.6-inch slates, tipping the scales at just 2.76 pounds. In comparison, the Panasonic Toughpad FZ-G1 is smaller at 10.1 inches, yet only weighs a couple of ounces less at 2.6 pounds, while the same-sized Getac F110 is 3.08 pounds. The slightly larger  Microsoft Surface Pro 3  weighs 1.8 pounds without any durability accoutrements.

Despite its relatively light weight, the R11 still can meet MIL-STD 810G and IP65 standards for toughness and resistance to dust and water. Inside, it is powered by an Intel Haswell low-power processor (a Core i5 is standard, with an i7 CPU available as an option), 4GB or 8GB of RAM, and 64GB or 128GB of solid-state storage. You get to choose between Windows 7 or Windows 8.1, which will be displayed on the 1,366x768 screen that features what GammaTech calls "a water tolerant design" for use in wet environment or with latex gloves.

Given its use in field work and the health care industry, the R11 comes with security features like Computrace and TPM 1.2 support, boot password protection, and a Kensington physical lock. There are also a wide variety of optional modules and accessories for the R11, like a barcode scanner, smart card reader, car dock, and carrying straps. Those will bump up the price, which is already considerable. While you'll need to register on GammaTech's site to see pricing and order directly, online retailer Gowin.com is listing the tablet with a starting price of $2,199.