DT Research DT340T review: A versatile but expensive military-grade tablet

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  • Editors' rating
    8.0 Excellent

Pros

  • Solid military-grade industrial design
  • Bright (1,000 nits) 14-inch touch screen
  • Discrete Nvidia GPU (optional)
  • Secure port covers
  • Good all-round performance
  • Plenty of build-to-order options and accessories

Cons

  • Bulky and heavy
  • Expensive, especially as options and accessories are added

DT Research is a specialist maker of rugged tablets, medical devices, industrial-grade AIO PCs and thin clients. The company's USP is the ability to create purpose-built iterations for clients to cater for particular use cases. The DT340T is a very solid and tough 14-inch Windows 10 tablet featuring a high-brightness (1,000 nits) capacitive touch screen. It's powered by 8th-generation Intel Core i5 or i7 processors with optional discrete Nvidia graphics and has a good selection of well-protected ports and connectors, plus dual hot-swappable batteries. Plenty of accessories and mounting options are available to customise the device.

All this sounds good in theory, but how does it work out in practice?

Design & construction

One glance at the DT340T tells you this is no mainstream knowledge worker's computer. DT Research may optimistically describe the chunky slate-grey chassis as "slim, lightweight", but pick it up by its chunky rubberised carrying handle and you'll feel its 2.9kg weight (6.38lbs). The company is on surer ground when characterising the DT340T as "durable", as it has an impressive roster of certifications: IP65 ('dust tight', resistant to 'water jets'); MIL-STD-810G (shock and vibration protection); and SAE J1455 (crash shock test). It will operate in temperatures as low as minus 20 degrees centigrade (-4°F) and as high as 60°C (140°F) if need be.

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The 14-inch DT340T has a bright 1,000-nit FHD (1,920 by 1,080) screen and is powered by dual 60Wh or 90Wh hot-swappable batteries. It weighs a hefty 2.9kg and costs from $2,415.

Images: DR Research

The DT340T's 14-inch screen sits in a chassis measuring 351mm wide by 244mm deep by 29.5mm thick (13.8in. x 9.6in. x 1.16in.). Bezels (to the edge of the chassis) measure about 28mm at the sides, 30mm at the top and 40mm at the bottom (in landscape mode), leaving plenty to grip on without making accidental screen presses. The right-hand bezel houses the power button and LED, and two programmable buttons, below which are status LEDs for the two batteries. As already noted, this is a weighty device, and you probably won't want to use it for too long in handheld tablet mode. If you do use it outside, the Full-HD screen's high 1,000-nit brightness will help you see what you're doing.

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The base configuration of the DT340T, with integrated graphics only, is a fanless design, but the discrete GPU model that we reviewed has a single fan. Our review unit also came with an active Digital Pen stylus, powered by a single AAAA battery, that has two buttons -- one giving access to the right-click menu and the other for erasing pen strokes. The stylus comes with a lanyard and a detachable pen clip, so you should have no excuse for mislaying it.

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The DT340T's ports are protected by 13mm-thick lockable covers.

Images: Charles McLellan/ZDNet

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To get its IP rating, the tablet's ports and slots need to be protected from dust and water ingress, and DT Research's solution is particularly robust. The hinged 'door' of the port cover is about 13mm thick at its maximum, and has a sliding shutter mechanism to lock it in place. This (patented) arrangement works very well.

The back of the DT340T is dominated by two large hot-swappable battery packs, which are easily removed by disengaging a lockable latch. The base configuration has two 60Wh batteries, but our high-end review unit had dual 90Wh battery packs.

Features

The DT340T is available with 8th-generation Core i5 or i7 processors, and our review sample had the latter -- specifically a quad-core Core i7-8550U running at 1.8GHz (4GHz with Turbo Boost). RAM goes from 8GB to 64GB, while SSD storage ranges from 128GB to 1TB. Our high-end review unit had 32GB of RAM and a 1TB SSD, plus discrete Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 graphics with 4GB of video RAM. The operating system is Windows 10 Enterprise.

For wireless connectivity there's dual-band (2.4GHz/5GHz) 802.11ac wi-fi and Bluetooth 4.2 LE, with optional GNSS and 4G LTE modules available if required. Wired Gigabit Ethernet is built-in, accessed via a full-size RJ-45 port.

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The optional Docking Keyboard costs $498 and provides a good typing platform. A flip-out stabiliser at the back prevents the weighty tablet from toppling backwards when docked.

Image: Charles McLellan/ZDNet

Talking of ports, there are two USB 2.0 ports and a round-pin power input under a cover on the right side, with a (covered) smart card reader below this. The cover on the left side protects RJ-45 Ethernet, USB 3.0 HDMI-out and 3.5mm audio ports. A proprietary connector on the bottom edge caters for the optional Docking Keyboard, which was also supplied for review.

We were slightly surprised by the absence of a webcam on our review unit, but a front-facing camera for video conferencing is among the build-to-order options.

There are plenty of useful accessories. As well as the docking keyboard and digital pen noted above, there's a vehicle mount cradle, a table mount cradle and a battery gang charger -- the latter accommodating up to six batteries for recharging.

Performance & battery life

The DT340T's quad-core Core i7-8550U processor with 32GB of RAM delivered a three-pass average single-core score of 968 on the Geekbench 5 CPU test, and a multi-core score of 2682. For comparison, the top single-core and multi-core scores for a quad-core processor in the Geekbench results browser at the time of writing are 1320 (Core i5-7640X) and 4722 (Core i7-7700K).

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Graphics performance is a key selling point for the DT340T, and we examined this via a couple of benchmarks. The Geekbench 5 Compute OpenCL test shows the effect of discrete versus integrated GPUs, with the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 delivering 3.5 times the performance of the Core i7's integrated UHD Graphics 620 module.

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Chart: ZDNet

We also ran the 3DMark Time Spy benchmark, a DirectX 12 test for Windows 10 gaming PCs, which shows that, while it's no gaming platform, the DT340T comfortably outperforms an average notebook PC when running graphically demanding software.

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Image: ZDNet

We assessed the performance of the 1TB Samsung SSD using the ATTO Disk Benchmark, which measures raw transfer rates. This reported impressive speeds of 3.12GB/s for reads and 2.23GB/s for writes.

Our review unit had the maximum battery capacity provided by two hot-swappable 90Wh units. We charged both batteries to 100 percent and set screen brightness to 50 percent, and then used the DT340T for a range of tasks such as word processing, web browsing and benchmark testing (including some demanding graphics tests) until the batteries drained. The Windows 10 Battery Report showed that the tablet had lasted for 12 hours and 48 minutes. (Note: this measurement was made with the DT340T docked with the keyboard, so battery life may be longer with the tablet in standalone mode.)

Pricing

The base model of the DT340T, with a Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM integrated graphics, a 128GB SSD and dual 60Wh batteries, costs $2,415. The high-end model reviewed here, with a Core i7 CPU, 32GB of RAM, Nvidia graphics, a 1TB SSD and dual 90W batteries, costs $4,599.

We also had the optional keyboard dock ($498), digital pen ($67) and a carry case ($98), bringing the total review package to a princely $5,262. (All prices MSRP.)

Conclusions

If you're looking for a seriously tough tablet that can run graphically demanding software, DT Research's DT340T is worth considering. You'll need to specify the discrete Nvidia GPU, which adds to an already hefty price tag -- especially if you also bump up the RAM, SSD storage and battery capacity.

There are plenty of options and accessories, but beware the expense: our high-end review package will cost you over five thousand dollars. The DT340T will work well outdoors in challenging conditions, but carrying it around will also be a challenge -- especially if you take the keyboard dock as well.

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