Review: Durabook R11 is a rugged, surprisingly lightweight Windows tablet

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The Durabook R11 is dust, shock and splash-proof (Photo: Eric Mack/Gizmag.com)

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It wasn't long ago that bringing a rugged PC along literally required lugging a rigid office-in-a-suitcase sort of setup into the field. But new systems like the Durabook R11 from GammaTech combine touchscreens and the trend towards smaller, lighter and thinner devices into a much more portable package.

The R11 is basically an 11.6-inch Windows tablet that comes ready to mount to a desk, in a vehicle, or to your hand or arm via an optional strap. It's appropriately rated to go almost everywhere as well, built to survive 4-foot drops on the floor, dust storms and water splashes. It can also operate within a temperature range of -10℃~55℃ (14 F - 131 F) and has a sunlight readable display.

The R11 is available running either Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 Pro, offering a little flexibility for the significant number of companies that are wary of upgrading to the latest from Microsoft.

The review unit we've been handling runs Windows 7 Pro, which we found to be more cumbersome than a Windows 8 tablet, due almost entirely to the more clunky non-native touchscreen interface added to Windows 7 on the Durabook.

There's little else to say about the software here, which is basically stock Windows with a few added security features and optional hardware-related extras like a bar code scanner, NFC/RFID reader, magnetic stripe and smart card reader.

What's really notable about the Durabook R11 is that it manages to be among the toughest tablets around with a large screen that somehow doesn't weigh a ton. It weighs just 2.76 pounds (1.2 kg), adding less than a pound to the weight of the Surface Pro 3, which would likely have a much harder time holding up under the same extreme conditions the R11 is built for. It's also a few ounces less than the comparable Getac F110, weighing in at over 3 pounds.

Other key specs for this tough guy-tablet include Intel "Haswell" i5 or i7 processors, an HD (1366x768) LCD anti-reflective display, solid state drive with either 64 GB or 128 GB of storage, 4GB RAM upgrade-able to 8 GB, microSD and SIM card slots, 5 megapixel and 2 MP cameras, all powered by a battery good for 7 hours per charge.

This isn't a consumer product; it's definitely meant for professional applications including health care, energy, transport, logistics, warehouses, construction and the military. It's kind of like the big brother to the Arbor Gladius 5 rugged phablet we reviewed last year. As such, it doesn't come with a consumer-friendly price. Suggested pricing from GammaTech starts at $2,199.

Product page: GammaTech

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