A handy, modern 7-inch Windows capacitive touch tablet tough and rugged enough to take a beating (by Conrad H. Blickenstorfer)
On February 18, 2012, DAP Technologies unveiled the compact rugged M7000 tablet with a 7-inch capacitive multi-touch display. This addition to DAP's tablet lineup represents a solution for enterprise customers whose applications require the convenience of consumer tablet technology, but need considerably more ruggedness in a Windows-powered solution for seamless integration with existing company networks, applications, resources and peripherals.
DAP Technologies's approach with the M7000 is simple: Use the wide-format 7-inch size that has established itself as the second major form factor besides the "full-size" 10-inch tablets. Use an economical yet competent Intel processor capable of running Microsoft Windows. Use the tremendously popular projected capacitive touch technology instead of an older resistive digitizer. And equip the product with all the standard features and functionality enterprise customers need.
In terms of physical specifications, the M7000 measures 8.35 x 5.2 inches (212 × 133 mm) and is an inch (25 mm) thick. That's a bit larger and quite a bit thicker than consumer media tablets in this class. And with 1.7 pounds (0.77 kg), the DAP tablet weighs more as well, but it's still compact and light enough to never get in the way. We haven't had hands-on with the M7000 and can't comment on housing and chassis materials, but it looks like a plastic body shell with rubber/elastomer bumpers and protection around the perimeter, and likely a magnesium chassis inside.
The display measures 7 inches diagonally size, has 1024 x 600 pixel resolution (17 : 10 aspect ratio), and a bright 500 nit backlight (your average notebook only has 200 nits). 1024 x 600 worked fine on tens of millions of netbooks, and looks plenty sharp on a 7-inch screen. The M7000 is sunlight-readable and thus suitable for work both indoors and outdoors.
Projected capacitive touch works best with a smooth glass surface that extends well beyond the display itself and the M7000 has that, so it should be pleasant to operate. DAP ships the tablet with Windows Embedded Standard 7 — a quick, mature and responsive OS platform. While Windows 7 itself isn't wasn't designed for touch, many prospective enterprise customers will likely use their own custom software optimized for capacitive touch.
The M7000 is powered by a 1.6GHz dual-core Intel Atom N2600 processor, which is one of the best overall Atom chips and well capable of running Embedded Standard 7 at a good clip. RAM is 2GB of DDR3 SDRAM, and mass storage comes in the form of a solid state disk (from 32 all the way to 128GB). A micro-SD card slot allows for extra storage (up to 32GB) and data transfer.
Onboard connectivity is limited to a USB 2.0 port and audio. So whatever other wired connectivity is needed would have to come via the USB port or a dock. On the wireless side is 802.11b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth 3.0, GPS, and optional mobile broadband. The M7000 also has ambient light and G sensors, and a 2-megapixel rear-facing autofocus camera with LED illuminator for documentation.
For power, the standard 16.8 watt-hour Li-Polymer battery is perhaps a bit small for a Windows tablet and many customers will likely go for the optional extended 38.5 watt-hour battery that makes the tablet capable of full-shift operation.
For ruggedness, DAP claims repeated 4-foot drop to concrete, IP65 sealing, where the "6" stands for being dustproof and the "5" for the ability to handle low pressure water jets from all directions, and the tablet can operate in a temperature range of 14 to 122 degrees Fahrenheit (-10 to +50 Celsius), enough for most deployments.
With the M7000 tablet, DAP Technologies has a very rational, straight-forward and cleanly designed basic tool for tablet jobs that require Windows. And also a tool that's modern and technologically and functionally attractive with capacitive multi-touch. No word on pricing yet, but this should be an attractive addition to DAP's enterprise tablet lineup.