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DT Research DT398

Compact, performance-oriented 9.7-inch Windows tablet
(by Conrad H. Blickenstorfer)

As of mid 2013, there is great market opportunity in providing tablet functionality in an enclosure significantly more rugged than the iPad, Android tablets, or Microsoft Surface-style tablets, and DT Research has gathered experience in that market for a good many years. The DT 398, introduced on May 14, 2013 and clearly designed for operation in harsh, demanding environments, is the company's most rugged tablet to date, packing a lot of technology into a tough yet handy tablet with an iPad-size display.

While all of the DT Research tablets (and there are quite a few) have a distinctly rugged look with black or darg-gray housings and prominent rubber bumpers on their corners, the new DT398 models clearly take ruggedness one step farther. That's not surprising given that most of the company's other tablet products are designed primarily for point-of-sale and similar applications, whereas the DT398 aims for areas such as construction, utilities, inspections and public safety while also meeting the requirements of government and military deployments.

Measuring 10.4 x 8.7 x 1.0 inches and weighing just over three pounds, the DT398 is considerably heftier than today's consumer media tablets, but smaller and much lighter than traditional full-size vertical market tablets. However, like many of those larger industrial tablets, the DT398 can be equipped with a variety of data capture options. Depending on your needs, the device may include a 2D area imager, an RFID reader, a Smart Card reader, and front and rear cameras (2mp and 5mp, respectively). On the wireless communications side, the DT398 can be equipped with a 3G WWAN module that includes GPS for positioning and navigation as well.

Unlike most other DT Research tablets that are based on Intel Atom processors, the DT398 packs considerably more processor punch in the form of either a 1.1GHz Intel Celeron or a 1.7GHz Intel Core i7. Unfortunately, DT Research documentation does not indicate what processors those are and so we can only say that recent generation Celerons are slightly detuned versions of similar Core i3 processors (albeit minus some Intel technologies that may or may not be needed), and that Core i7s all include a turbo mode plus a whole gamut of those Intel technologies. In any case, both DT398 models will offer much more performance than any of the company's Atom-based POS tablets.

On the ruggedness side, the ABS + PC plastics enclosure combined with those rubber bumpers suggest an ability to weather quite a bit of abuse. The specs state IP65 sealing (total protection agains dust, protection against low-pressure water jets from all directions, with limited ingress permitted). There are references to MIL-STD-810G but, at least in the specs, few specifics. Operating temperature for government and military deployment is a wide -4 to 122 degrees Fahrenheit, but the default range of 32 to 104 degrees is less impressive. In a rugged product, we'd definitely like to see more detailed environmental specs.

Overall, while there are some unanswered questions, the DT398 is an attractive choice for anyone who needs a performance-oriented rugged Windows tablet. To see the complete DT Research tablet lineup, see the DT Research tablet comparison table.

DT Research, Inc., with headquarters in San Jose, California, develops and manufactures information appliances including tablet devices and digital signage solutions for vertical markets. For years, DT Research was clearly ahead of the times with its "web appliance" tablets, but ever since the introduction of the Apple iPad, tablets are hot and products like the DT Research WebDT tablets are getting much more attention.
Specifications DT Research DT398
Status Added 05/2013
Form-factor Rugged tablet
OS Microsoft Windows Embedded Standard 7 (32-bit), Windows 7 Professional (64-bit) or Linux
Processor Intel Celeron or Intel Core i7
CPU Speed 1.1GHz or 1.7GHz
Chipset Unknown
Standard/Max RAM 4GB/8GB
Disk/drive 8GB to 256GB Flash
Card slots Optional Smart Card reader
Display type TFT with LED backlight and sunlight-viewable option
Display size/res 9.7-inch/1024 x 768 pixel XGA
Digitizer/pens resistive touch/1
Keyboard/scale Onscreen and optional external mini-USB keyboard
Sealing IP65
Operating temp. 32° to 104°F (0° to 40°C); govt/military version: -4° to 122°F (-20° to 50°C)
Vibration and shock MIL-STD-810G
Regulatory FCC Class B, CE, C-Tick, RoHS compliant
Housing ABS + PC plastics with rubber bumpers on each corner
Size (WxHxD) 10.4 x 8.7 x 1.0 inches (263 x 220 x 25 mm)
Weight 3.1 lbs. (1.4kg)
Power 14.8V, 1880mAh; optional external 14.8V, 1850mAh
Camera Optional: front: 2mp AF CMOS (up to 1600 x 1200); rear: 5mp AF CMOS (up to 2594 x 1944) with LED illuminator
Scanner Optinal: 1D/2D CMOS
Interface 1 x eSATA/USB, audio in/out
Wireless 802.11a/b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth v3.0+HS; optional: 3G module (GPS, HSPA+ / EVDO / WCDMA / EDGE / GPRS / GSM), 13.56MHz RFID reader
List price Inquire
Contact www.dtresearch.com
Brochure DT Research tablets
Warranty 1, 2, or 3 year extended or no-fault options