Laporte, Indiana based DLI was founded in the early 1990s as a manufacturer and reseller of wireless data collection devices. The company carries mobile computers, rugged ultra-mobile tablets, handhelds, scanners and vehicle mounted computers. The DLI 9008 shown here was introduced early 2014 as a rugged mobile tablet for a variety of retail and hospitality settings.
Though DLI already seemed to have a mobile tablet for just about any application, the DLI 9008 does address the demand for a roughly iPad-sized thin tablet that doesn't weigh much, yet is still considerably tougher than consumer tablets. The 9008 meets those requirements with a 9.35 x 7.35 inch footprint, a slender (for a professional product) 0.7 inch profile, and a low (again, for a professional product) weight of just two pounds. The display is smaller than that of an iPad — 8 inches diagonally — to accommodate a more ruggedness-oriented design with distinct protruding corner guards.
As for display specs, customers get standard 4:3 aspect ratio 1024 x 768 pixel XGA. XGA began looking obsolete a few years ago, but then the original iPad stayed with that aspect ratio and resolution, and Apple continues to use 4:3 in its tablets to this day. Another advantage of XGA is that there is plenty of legacy POS and other vertical market software with this format, so no rewriting is required.
Note that the DLI 9008 uses projected capacitive touch, as far as we know a first for DLI. Procap on a small screen works best with Android (which is available for this tablet via American Megatrends' DuOS) or custom apps writtten for touch. Using legacy Windows on it is a bit frustrating unelss the tablet is used in a dock with a mouse for navigation.
The DLI 9008 isn't just a standard tablet computer; it benefits from DLI's many years of experience in putting durable tablet devices to work. Of particular interest here is the optional 5-in-1 module that attaches to the back of the tablet and can provide:
- Barcode scanning with a 1D/2D imager
- RFID for NFC and contactless payments
- Magstripe reading
- Smartcard reading with an EMV ISO/IEC 7816 contact reader
- Keypad for debit card code entries
For communication there's 802.11a/b/g/n Cisco CCX4 certified WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, u-blox 7 GPS, and various mobile broadband modules.
Processing power is provided by a quad-core Intel Bay Trail N2930 running at 1.86GHz. Note that Intel is branding this chip with the Celeron name although it's based on the "Silvermont" processor architecture, the first true architectural update to Atom since its introduction in 2008. The N2930 includes the same advanced GPU architecture as in Intel's Ivy Bridge Core processors.
Storage can be a 64 or 128GB of mSATA Solid State Disk, and DLI offers a generous 8GB of DDR3L onboard RAM. On the OS side, Data Ltd ships the machine with either Windows 7 or 8.1, or Windows Embedded Standard 7, and there is also DuOS that allows native Android running on Windows hardware.
The impact-resistant housing provides IP54 sealing, and the requisite shock (4-fot drop) and vibration resistance for operation in vehicles. The operating temperature range is a relatively modest 32 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit.
While DLI targets the rugged DLI 9008 mobile tablet computer at applications in retail and hospitality where its optional 5-in-1 payment module comes in especially handy, we can see numerous applications in other fields that benefit from a compact tablet that is considerably tougher than consumer hardware, but without a lot of extra size and weight.