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DT Research DT311H

Entering the burgeoning 2-in-1 hybrid market with a solid, well-conceived, interchangeable solution
(by Conrad H. Blickenstorfer)

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On July 18, 2016, DT Research announced new versions of its popular 10.1-inch DT301 and 11.6-inch DT311 ultra-rugged tablets. In addition to various spec updates, the new versions come in 2-in-1 hybrid configurations, featuring water-resistant detachable keyboards, internal hot-swappable batteries, and advanced hardware-software security.

The rationale for adding 2-in-1 versions

"Mobile tablets are fast becoming the 'go to' computing device for the military and other field jobs," said Daw Tsai Sc.D., president of DT Research. "But as the use of mobile tablets has risen, we saw that users need the flexibility to use tablets in a variety of settings. Our new 2-in-1 ultra-rugged tablets can dynamically adapt to indoor and outdoor use, while remaining light and durable with our signature fully-integrated design."

So why did DT Research launch these two 2-in-1s? In essence because that's where the market is going. Tablets have revolutionized the world, but primarily in the media consumption area; for real work sitting down with a keyboard is still needed, and may always be needed. While it's possible to hook up a keyboard with most tablets, the combination really has to be just right in order for it to work. And that was the DT Research engineers' goal, to create a 2-in-1 solution that works.

For a bit of history, 2-in-1s aren't new. They go back pretty much to the beginnings of pen computing and tablets over 20 years ago. But the designs never worked well enough to break through. Initially the problem was that packing all the electronics into a lightweight tablet just wasn't possible. So the attempted 2-in-1s were unwieldy and top-heavy. Convertible notebooks with rotating displays have had their niche for many years, but not more than that. Most recently, cardboard-thin keyboards that attach magnetically to modern tablets have made inroads, but generally don't make for a truly practical solution.

So what makes the DT Research solution different? A few things:

  • the keyboard is a real keyboard people can actually use, not one of those wavers that are impossible to type on.
  • the keyboard has real, sturdy hinges that allow easy angle adjustment and a solid connection.
  • the tablet and keyboard fit and work together better than most.
  • the keyboard and all pertaining accessories are interchangeable within the company's 2-in-1 lineup.

Roomy, thin & light

As for the tablet part itself, the rugged thin-and-light DT311 extends the company's focus well beyond its historic concentration on the point-of-sale market. The DT311 features a modern, businesslike design that's instantly at home in any enterprise. It is a competitor to thin-and-light tablet offerings from the likes of Getac, Xplore, GammaTech, and Panasonic, all created to be elegant, compact, lightweight tools for jobs on sales floors, warehouses, field offices, transportation, logistics, etc.

Measuring 12.3 x 8.2 x 0.86 inches and weighing a very manageable 3.6 pounds, the Intel "Broadwell"-based DT311 includes a full-slot Smart Card reader, has a hot-swappable 44.3 watt-hour battery, comes with speedy dual-band 802.11ac WiFi, and Bluetooth 4.0. Optionally available are a 4G LTE mobile broadband module, front and rear cameras, a 1D/2D barcode scanner, an NFC/RFID reader.

Anyone who needs more screen real estate than what 10-inch class tablets offer will appreciate the DT311's larger 11.6-inch screen that offers full 1920 x 1080 1080p pixel resolution. And like most recent Windows tablets, the DT311 has capacitive multi-touch, but DT Research also offers an active digitizer with a high-precision digital pen.

Tough and rugged

On the ruggedness side, the DT311's ABS+PC polycarbonate and magnesium-aluminum alloy construction mean that the tablet is a lot sturdier and tougher than its light and elegant design suggest. The specs state IP65 sealing for the front panel, which means it's fully protected against dust, and also protected against low pressure water jets from all directions. The standard operating temperature range is a very wide -4 to 140 degrees, making the system deployable almost anywhere. DT Research also claims MIL-STD-810G testing for drop, shock and vibration, as well as MIL-STD-461F certification for EMI and EMC tolerance and HERO (Hazard of Electromagnetic Radiation to Ordnance) certification.

Attention to security

The DT311H addresses security both in software and hardware. Taking advantage of Windows 10 IoT Enterprise OS security, the DT311H also features Device Guard enterprise hardware and software security that only allow the tablet to run trusted applications with TPM 1.2 and 2.0 support. Lock Down features protect against malicious users. DT Research adds its own proprietary hardware security, such as media sanitization option that supports both NSA and USA-AF/Navy/Army standards. Hardware security options also include camera privacy mode, instant blackout, as well as automatic Bluetooth, RFID and WiFi disable functions that can be pre-configured to turn off all radio capabilities under certain conditions.

Contemporary and looking ahead

According to DT Research, the U.S. Army Reserve is a DT311H rugged tablet customer, and the company announced that the Army Reserve is expanding use of the DT311H into other army facilities to support training missions and other logistics. This marks the second Army Reserve contract for Rugged Tablets that DT Research has been awarded in 2016.

That comes as no surprise to us. With the DT311 Series, DT Research offers a modern, state-of-the-art thin-and-light tablet that's tough enough to be deployed in vast array of applications that require more than run-of-the-mill consumer tablets can provide. And the addition of a 2-in-1 version of the DT311 makes the platform that much more attractive.

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Specifications DT Research DT311H
Status Added 07/2016
Form-factor Mobile 2-in-1 tablet
OS Microsoft Windows 7 Professional or Windows 10 IoT Enterprise
Processor Intel Core i7-5500U
Intel Core i5-xxxxx
CPU Speed DT311H: 2.4GHz (3.00GHz turbo)
DT311C: 1.5GHz (no turbo)
Standard/Max RAM 8GB or 16GB DDR3L
Disk/drive 128GB or 256GB Flash
Card slots 1 x Smart Card reader
Display type Outdoor-viewable TFT with LED backlight, anti-reflection coating
Display size/res 11.6-inch/1920 x 1200 pixel FHD (195 ppi)
Digitizer/pens Capacitive multi-touch, optional active digitizer/pen
Keyboard/scale Detachable 81-key keyboard, 3 programmable buttons, RF button
Operating temp. -4° to 140°F (-20° to 60°C)
Shock MIL-STD-810G (4-foot drop)
Vibration MIL-STD-810G
Sealing IP65
Regulatory FCC Class B, CE, RoHS compliant
EMI/EMC NA
Housing ABS + PC and magnesium-aluminum alloy
Size (WxHxD) 12.3 x 8.2 x 0.86 inches (312 x 208 x 22 mm)
Weight 3.6 lbs. (1.6kg)
Power 7.2V 6,150 mAH Li-Ion (44.3 watt-hours), hot-swappable
Camera Optional: 2mp front camera, 5mp back AF camera with LED flash
Scanner Optional: 1D/2D barcode scanner, NFC/HF-RFID
Interface 1 x USB 3.0, 1 x 3.5mm audio in/out, power
Wireless 802.11ac WiFi, Bluetooth v4.0 LE (optional Class 1), optional: 4G LTE, HSPA+, GSM/GPRS/EDGE, EV-DO, Rev A and 1xRTT
List price Inquire
Web page DT311H product page
Brochure DT311 Series specsheet
Warranty 1, 2, or 3 year extended or no-fault options