DT Research DT398H |
Rugged, compact 9.7-inch Windows tablet gets tech updates, major performance boost
(by Conrad H. Blickenstorfer)
Initially introduced in mid 2013 to provide Windows tablet functionality in an enclosure significantly more rugged than the iPad and other consumer tablets, the DT Research DT398 platform has been expanded with the new (as of May 2015) DT398H. Already the company's most rugged tablet to date, the new model represents a major technology update both in performance and functionality.
First a few words about the platform. While all of the DT Research tablets — and there are quite a few (see here) — have a distinctly rugged look with black or dark-gray housings and prominent rubber bumpers on their corners, the DT398 takes ruggedness a good 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 platform is considerably heftier than today's consumer media tablets, but smaller and much lighter than older full-size vertical market tablets. However, like many of the 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 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 against 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. A wide -4 to 122 degrees Fahrenheit operating temperature range is available as an option; 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.
When the original DT398 appeared in 2013, it packed considerable processor punch in the form of either a 1.1GHz Intel Celeron or a 1.7GHz Intel Core i7. Unfortunately, DT Research documentation doesn't specify the model of the processors used in their products, and so we don't know what processor generation those original DT398 tablets were using. What we do know is that the new DT398H model is based on Intel's 5th generation "Broadwell" power, and we guess it's the dual-core i7-5500U (see full CPU specs here). The chip runs at a base frequency of 2.4GHz, with a maximum turbo frequency of 3GHz. It also includes integrated Intel HD Graphics 5500, a major step forward. Maximum RAM has doubled to 16GB compared to the original DT398 (which is now called DT398B), WiFi is of the much speedier 802.11ac variety, Bluetooth is now at the v4.0 LE level, and 4G LTE wireless broadband is optionally available. What all that means is that customers can expect a very significant performance boost in every respect.
On the display front, while the original DT398 had a resistive digitizer, the new DT398H comes with capacitive touch. That's no surprise. Procap is increasingly common even on Windows tablets, and pretty much mandatory for any tablet available with Windows 8.x. We would have liked to higher display resolution to go with it, but that remains at standard 1024 x 768 XGA.
Overall, the DT398H is an attractive choice for anyone who needs a performance-oriented rugged Windows tablet from a provider that has many years of very extensive experience with vertical market and enterprise-oriented tablets. 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.