Next-gen Intel Atom powered ruggedized tablet anticipates Windows 8 (by Conrad H. Blickenstorfer)
On August 14, 2012, DAP Technologies unveiled the compact, lightweight rugged M9700 tablet with a 9.7-inch multi-touch display. This latest addition to DAP's tablet lineup represents a solution for enterprise customers who need the screen size, low weight, and handy size of a consumer tablet, but require a somewhat more rugged solution that runs a Windows OS and is compatible with existing networks and applications.
With this 9.7-inch rugged tablet, DAP Technologies launched an elegant semi-rugged Windows 7-based tablet that is clearly geared towards users attracted to the media tablet experience, but who want or need to stay within the Microsoft software platform.
In terms of design and execution, the M9700 looks a bit like a fortified iPad, with the same 9.7-inch display size, the same 4:3 aspect ratio as the iPad, the same XGA 1024 x 768 resolution as the first and second gen iPads, and with very similar dimensions as well. The DAP tablet is about 3/4s of an inch longer and wider and also somewhat thicker and heavier than Apple's megahit, but that's to be expected given the extra protection. Still, just like Panasonic with its Toughpad A1, DAP chose a ruggedized device reminiscent much more of a modern-era media tablet than an older-style Tablet PC.
The new-style thinking also extends to operations as the M9700 tablet has a projected capacitive touch screen. The world, of course, has fallen in love with this technology that ushered in an era of effortless tapping, panning, pinching and zooming. Given that DAP's tech specs for this tablet do not list an additional pen-based digitizer, the obvious OS of choice for this tablet will be the touch-optimized Windows 8.
Processing power comes from Intel's next-gen Atom "Cedar Trail" platform that employs 32nm technology and is essentially an evolved successor of the N270/N280 and N455/N475 chips that powered all those tens of millions of netbooks. The 1.6GHz Atom N2600 in DAP's tablet works in conjunction with the Intel NM10 chipset, a known quantity already used with prior generation Atom chips. The base version of the tablet comes with a 32GB solid state disk.
On the connectivity side, there's a docking connector, USB, and a special LIF port that provides either LAN or HDMI via a dongle. For wireless there's 802.11b/g/n WiFi, Class II Bluetooth, and optional GPS and 3G WAN. There's also a single autofocus 2mp camera with an LED illuminator. The battery is a 5,300mAH Li-Ion design and should be good for four hours of operation, and hopefully more.
DAP describes their elegant new tablet as rugged, and the tablet looks the part with its corner protection. Specs include a 32 to 122 degree Fahrenheit operating temperature range, multiple 4-foot drops, IP54 sealing where the "5" stands for protection agains dust and the "4" for protection against water sprayed from all directions (both with limited ingress permitted, though), MIL-STD-810F vibration testing, ESD protection, and more.
As is, DAP Technologies' 9.7-inch rugged M9700 tablet appears to be a very promising product in a market ready to deploy tablets in numerous areas, but requiring a Microsoft OS platform and more ruggedness than media tablets can provide. Its capacitive touch display is clearly more Windows 8 than Windows 7-oriented, its Intel Atom N2600 processor makes for good performance (much better than those old netbooks), and the IPS LCD display is superb (albeit a bit glossy). It's an elegant design and may well turn out to be a big hit for DAP.