Amrel DT6 Rugged Tablet|
Highly configurable rugged Windows tablet with integrated keyboard
(by Conrad H. Blickenstorfer)
Based in El Monte, California, AMREL (AMerican RELiance) has a long history of offering value-added applications in vertical markets. The Rocky line of ruggedized computers was introduced in 1995 and has been updated, enhanced, and fine-tuned every since.
The ROCKY DT6, introduced in February of 2013, is a Windows 7-based rugged tablet computer designed for military and enterprise applications. It has a resistive touch screen measuring 8.9 inches diagonally. This tablet's most distinguishing feature is its integrated QWERTY keyboard located below the display. While there's an onscreen keyboard as well, and you can also connected an external keyboard via USB, having an integrated physical keyboard can greatly speed up data entry in the field.
In terms of sigze and weight, the DT6 measures 9.85 x 7.5 inches, is 1.4 inches thick, and weighs 4.4 pounds. That's about the footprint of an iPad, but the fully-rugged DT6 with its sturdy magnesium housing is considerably thicker and heavier than any consumer media tablet. This is first and foremost a tool for jobs out there in the field where things can get wet, dropped, or banged around.
The unit's 1024 x 600 pixel resolution makes for a sharp image on a display this size, though using software designed for the more standard 1024 x 768 XGA format can be a bit frustrating (however, netbooks used this WSVGA format, and they sold by the tens of millions). The display has anti-glare and anti-reflective coating.
As for ruggedness, while the tablet is clearly tough and rugged, there aren't too many specifics as of yet. AMREL simply states that the tablet is MIL-STD 810G, MIL-STD 461F compliant for shock, vibration, rain, humidity, salt fog, altitude, high/low temperature, and temperature shock. Since those standards primarily describe testing procedures but not actual ruggedness requirements, customers will want to know more specifics. Sealing is at the IP54 level, which means the tablet is protected against dust and water spray from all directions, albeit with limited ingress permitted. With a magnesium housing, protective rubber bumpers on all four corners, and protective rubber plugs for all the ports, there's no doubt that the DT6 can survive considerable abuse.
On the tech specs side, things are clearer. The DT6 is powered by a 1.6GHz Intel Atom Z530 processor, a first generation "Silverthorne" Atom design used in a wide variety of vertical market and embedded systems where minimal heat dissipation and power consumption matter. It's not a speed demon, but a reliable industrial-grade processor with extended lifetime support. There's 2GB of RAM, a large-capacity 500GB 2.5-inch hard disk (or an optional solid state disk), both USB and legacy serial ports, and an a-la-carte list of radio (WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS) and port (RJ45, RS422/485, TTL) options. A port expansion slot can be used to add a Smart Card or ExpressCard reader. A fairly powerful 53 watt-hour battery should easily reach the listed six hours of life between charges.
Overall, the DT6 appears to have been conceived around some very specific design principles (integrated keyboard, extensive configurability) as a solid, reliable computing and data collection platform for various industries, one that's largely immune to abuse even in harsh operating environments.