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RuggON Rextorm PX-501

Ultra-rugged high-performance Windows tablet with excellent build and superior display
By Conrad H. Blickenstorfer; photography by Carol Cotton

Taiwan-based RuggON Corporation was established in 2014 as a provider of ruggedized computing products. RuggON's stated mission is to raise the productivity of rugged computing solutions through creative, pioneering technology. Their lineup consists of RuggPAD tablets and RuggVMC vehicle mounts. We've had a chance to review the high-performance RuggON PX-501 10.1-inch tablet that's part of the company's Rextorm line. This report represents a detailed hands-on description and analysis of the PX-501.

The Intel Core processor-powered PX-501 model represent the high end of RuggON's Rextorm rugged tablet platform that also includes an Intel Bay Trail-based model (the PM-521) as well as an Android version (the PA-501). Weighing just three pounds, the PX-501 models provide plenty of computing power even for demanding Windows applications, enough ruggedness for outdoor deployment, and an impressive roster of accessories and add-on modules.

Where RuggON and the PX-501 fit in

Where does a rugged tablet like the RuggON PX-501 fit in, and why was the company formed to pursue the rugged mobile computing market? Well, while worldwide PC shipments are in decline (though it's still about 300 million shipped in 2015, with roughly US$175 billion in sales) and the tablet side has slowed down and even saw a decline in 2015, the world still gobbled up about 210 million tablets last year, and a whole lot more if inexpensive white box tablet products are taken into account.

The "rugged" market, of course, is a lot smaller. Based on numbers we're seeing, worldwide sales of rugged handhelds are about US$2.4 billion, of rugged notebooks about US$1 billion, and of rugged tablets about US$600 million, for a total of perhaps about US$4 billion a year. That compares to perhaps $300 billion in consumer desktops, notebooks and tablets. Much depends on the exact definition of what's included, so these are very rough guesses, but the picture is pretty clear:

First, the rugged computing market is a niche market, and niche markets can be quite lucrative even at lower sales volumes. Second, while there are a number of strong players, there are no monopolies in the rugged market. Third, and most importantly, as mobile computing technology becomes ever more pervasive, so is the call and need for products that are fit for work in the field. That's because the current trend in consumer tech — thinner, sleeker, glitzier — is precisely what doesn't work out there on the job, especially if the job includes dust, drops, dirt and rain.

What all of this means is that given the nature of the market, the potentially vast upside as enterprises look towards more rugged solutions, and the relative dearth of expertise and capacity in rugged design and manufacturing, there's definitely opportunity for motivated entrepreneurs to enter the rugged mobile computing field, be it as ODMs, OEMs, selling under their own brand, or any combination thereof.

And that is where RuggON with its lineup fits in.

RuggON PX-501 — design, look and feel

So what type and nature of product has RuggON decided to create in its quest to become a major provider of rugged mobile computing technology? For now it's, with some exceptions, a variety of rugged tablets in the 10-inch display class. The PX-501 is part of the company's "Rextorm" line that includes the Intel Broadwell or Haswell-powered PX-501 reviewed here — the flagships of the line — as well as the aforementioned Intel Bay Trail-powered and Android versions of the line. All are very attractively designed 10.1-inch tablets that blend eye-catching consumer tablet appeal with fully rugged underpinnings and industrial-grade functionality.

The image below shows the RuggON PX-501 from the front and from all four sides.

The PX-501 measures 11.0 x 7.7 inches. Put in consumer tablet perspective, it's right midway between an iPad Air 2's 9.4 x 6.8 inches and the iPad Pro's 12 x 8.6 inches. As a fully rugged device the PX-501 is significantly thicker than an iPad, 0.9 inches, but let's not forget that just a few years ago this would have been considered impossibly slender for a rugged product. As far as weight goes, the PX-501 tips the scale at just a smidgen below three pounds. That's almost twice as much as the iPad Pro's 1.57 pounds, but also would have been considered ultra-light just a few short years ago.

The overall look of the tablet is dominated by the light-gray bezel that extends 3/4 of an inch beyond the thin black plastic frame of the actual display, and is then contained within a quarter inch of tough rubber molding. The design is accentuated by a slight "Coke bottle" concave indentation on all four sides, adding both protection, grip, and elegance.

Controls and annunciator lights are all on the front of the tablet where they can be seen easily. There are two shiftable, programmable function buttons on the left; a barcode trigger and lights for charge, WiFi and Function on the right; webcam, microphones and light sensor on top; and power, volume up/down and the Windows key on the bottom. The areas where palm and thumbs rest when holding the tablet are kept clear.

Going around the tablet, on the left side is the heat exchanger grille and a protective cover for the tablet's I/O block. On the right side are the power plug and a DB9 serial port, both protected by individual covers. Along the bottom is a Kensington lock slot, a dual antenna pass-through for installed wireless functionality, and the tablet's 12-pin surface mount docking connector. The top is unadorned.

The image above shows the left side of the PX-501 where all of the I/O is. For illustration purposes we photoshopped out the protective cover door that can be locked with a slider. From left to right, there are:

  • the heat exchanger, sealed to the inside, with a removable grill for cleaning.
  • a slider that turns power from the backup battery on or off
  • below it, a micro HDMI port
  • a micro SIM slot for 3G or 4G LTE WWAN service
  • a MicroSD card slot
  • a standard USB 3.0 port
  • a 3.5mm headphone/speaker jack
  • an RJ45 Ethernet jack

Excellent performance

Picking the most suitable processor for a mobile computing platform is an exceedingly difficult task. That's because performance, cost, features, weight, complexity, and power draw are all interconnected. A change in one will affect all the others. More power means more complexity, shorter battery life and higher cost. Longer battery life means higher weight or lower performance, or both. Lower weight means less performance or shorter battery life, or both. None of this matters much in desktops that plug into the wall and have large cooling systems. People just pay more for more speed, and that's that. In embedded systems, performance is also not an issue because the level of performance required is known in advance, and the designers simply use the chip that is fast enough and no more.

With mobile systems, getting it all just right involves great expertise. Cutting corners or making wrong assumptions can be deadly for sales, as can be misreading what customers really need (at times more important than what they say they want). For example, high performance is always good, but it comes at a price. A high-end processor can cost ten times as much as a low end chip. Will customers love the speed of a high-end model but balk at the higher price? Will they love the battery life and lower cost of a low-end model, but balk at the modest performance? Well, RuggON decided not to take any chances and offer both. If speed isn't an issue and cost is, RuggON has the PM-521 tablet that looks and handles just like the PX-501, but is based on the lower-end Bay Trail E3827 chip.

The RuggON PX-501 and PX-501B, however, are an entirely different story. They are powered by high-end Intel "Haswell" 4th generation and Intel "Broadwell" 5th generation Core processors, respectively. The PX-501 uses a 4th generation Core i5-4300U, the PX-501B we tested a 5th generation Core i5-5350U. Both chips run at about the same base and turbo frequency. In Intel parlance, "Haswell" was a "tock," i.e. a new CPU design, whereas "Broadwell" is a "tick," i.e. a shrinking and optimization of that basic design. This means that there isn't a major difference between these two CPUs.

Processor Core i5-5350U Core i5-4300U
Introduced Q1/2015 Q3/2013
Processor Codename "Broadwell" "Haswell"
CPU base speed 1.80Hz 1.90Hz
CPU max turbo speed 2.90Hz 2.90Hz
Cores/threads 2/4 2/4
Lithography 14nm 22nm
Intel Graphics HD 6000 (48 EUs) HD 4400 (20 EUs)
Graphics base speed 300 MHz 200 MHz
Graphics max speed 1.0 GHz 1.1 GHz
Thermal Design Power 15 watts 15 watts
With Broadwell, Intel in essence took its impressive "Haswell" 4th generation and miniaturized it further, reducing manufacturing technology from 22nm to 14nm.

That meant room for even more transistors on the same size package, and Intel used some of those to enhance integrated graphics performance yet again, now supporting DirectX 11.2, OpenGL 4.3 and OpenCL 2.0. Further, the i5-5350U processor RuggON chose includes HD Graphics 6000, which means 48 graphics execution units, versus the just 20 EUs present in the HD Graphics 4400 of the Haswell i5-4300U chip, and thus potentially more than doubling the gigaflop performance for certain graphics operations.

To see how the RuggON PX-501 performs, and how it compares to some competing rugged tablets in the 10-inch class, we ran the appropriate software version of our standard Passmark Software PerformanceTest 6.1, a suite of about 30 tests covering CPU, 2D graphics, 3D graphics, memory, and disk and then computes scores for each category and an overall PassMark score. And we also ran our secondary benchmark suite, CrystalMark, to cross-check results and get a better idea of single core performance. The results are as follows:

RuggON PX-501 Benchmarks and Comparisons
PERFORMANCE COMPARISON RuggON ARBOR Getac Winmate Xplore
Model PX-501 Gladius G0975 F110 101H xSlate B10
Type Tablet Tablet Tablet Tablet Tablet
Processor Type: Intel Core i5 Celeron Core i7 Core i5 Core i5
Processor Model 5350U N2930 5500U 4200U 5350U
Processor Code Broadwell Bay Trail Broadwell Haswell Broadwell
CPU Speed 1.80 GHz 1.83 GHz 2.40 GHz 1.60 GHz 1.80 GHz
Turbo Speed 2.90 GHz 2.16 GHz 3.00 GHz 2.60 GHz 2.90 GHz
Thermal Design Power (TDP) 15 watts 7.5 watts 15 watts 15 watts 15 watts
CPU Mark 3,831.2 2,202.7 3,864.1 2,190.2 3,845.5
2D Graphics Mark 441.8 160.2 514.7 316.1 416.9
Memory Mark 918.2 411.4 1,215.6 588.9 1,241.2
Disk Mark 3,382.3 1,257.0 3,790.4 3,369.9 4,946.9
3D Graphics Mark 392.2 141.6 399.1 307.8 460.1
Overall PassMark 1,985.1 959.6 2,140.1 1,452.5 2,364.7
ALU 44,713 28,174 45,208 26,408 45,380
FPU 42,977 24,954 41,610 25,568 43,737
MEM 42,957 22,166 30,389 24,863 48,348
HDD 45,033 27,245 41,405 44,178 44,328
GDI 13,249 5,319 16,218 9,168 15,505
D2D 4,978 4,034 6,438 6,910 5,395
OGL 4,796 3,796 10,543 7,649 5,414
Overall CrystalMark 198,703 115,688 191,811 144,744 208,107

The results are impressive. The Broadwell-powered RuggON PX-501 is right up there among the very fastest rugged tablets available today. As we have seen in other comparisons, the difference between Haswell and Broadwell isn't large. In similarly equipped devices, drivers, the type of display, memory, and power settings can have more of an impact on performance than the processor itself.

What is clear is that customers get what they pay for. In our experience, given a similar base processor clock frequency, a Haswell or Broadwell Core processor based system will outperform one based on a Bay Trail Celeron by around 2:1, and one based on a Bay Trail Atom chip by 3:1 or more. That's a rough guideline, but something that's good to keep in mind when matching a computing platform to an expected set of applications and tasks.

What's inside the RuggON PX-501?

For the past several years, designers of rugged tablets have been facing a difficult assignment. They must create a device that looks sleek and elegant enough to appeal to customers brought up on consumer tablets, but also one that's tough and rugged and has all the features needed in the field and on the job.

RuggON has done an excellent job with that, as from the front the PX-501 looks just like a more muscular consumer tablet. But turn it around and it's instantly clear that this machine is all business.

The picture on the right shows the backside of the PX-501, reminiscent more of a business laptop than a sleek consumer tablet.

The PX-501's 48.6 watt-hour Li-Ion battery is square, compact, and less than half an inch thick. It fits flush into the backside of the tablet and is securely held in place via a springloaded lever that can be locked in place. The battery compartment itself is not sealed. Sealing to the interior of the device is via lips around the battery that press against a rubber patch around the battery contacts.

To the left of the battery, a small plastic cover, secured by seven Philips head screws and sealed via a lip-and-pressure seal allows access to the tablet's micro PCIe slot designated for a WWAN module.

The tablet's four protective bumpers are intricately formed of elastomer with a tough rubber overmolding. Each is held in place with two Philips head screws. If a bumper gets damaged, it can easily be replaced.

A lot of parts that are usually molded into the bottom part of the housing are removable and replaceable on the PX-501. That includes the protective port covers, the grill of the fan, as well as the rubber plug of the power jack. If any of these gets damaged, it can easily be replaced.

The PX-501's backside may cause alarm for some as both the speaker and the tablet's small fan appear to have slotted grilles that seem to open directly into the inside of the device. That's, however, not so. The speaker is a self-contained sealed unit. And the (extremely quiet) fan sits in its own compartment in the chassis. An elaborate rubber boot completely seals the fan compartment off to the inside. Yes, the fan can get wet, but that won't hurt it at all.

In terms of overall construction, the PX-501 consists of three layers. There's the ABS plastic front plate/bezel. Fastened to that is the tablet's very tough magnesium chassis that has the display mounted on one side of it and the motherboard and ancillary electronics on the other. And then there's the back cover, a rather elaborate ABS plastic affair that's secured to the front side with a good two dozen Philips head screws of different sizes. Sealing around the perimeter is via a tongue-and-groove design that does not seem to rely on an o-ring in the groove.

Once all of the screws are loosened, gently prying the two sides apart allows separating them without having to undo any additional snaps or latches. There are two wires assemblies between the two sides, one for the speaker and one for the documentation camera. Be careful with those.

Compared to a consumer mass-market product like the iPad with all of its super-miniaturized electronics concentrated into a couple of tiny circuit strips, the PX-501 is complex inside, and full of modules, connectors, components, conduits and other assorted parts. It's, however, all neatly organized. Wires aren't just hanging around; there are little metal guides individual wires fit into. We haven't seen that solution before. In addition, black tape covers a lot of the connections, probably both to insulate the connections and also to keep them from rattling loose. That's in lieu of the little dollops of silicone glue used in lots of devices to secure connections. The advantage of tape and guides is that connections can be undone without having to break and scrape away glue.

The pictures below shows what it looks like inside the RuggON PX-501:

In terms of modules, there's an Intel Wireless-AC 7260 half-size mini PCIe module, a full-size mini PCIe slot designated for a WWAN module, as well as a number of antennae strategically placed around the perimeter of the device. Much of the circuitboard surface is covered with metal shields for radio emission purposes.

Also interesting is the presence of both edge-mount connectors as well as a separate remote I/O daughterboard that in our unit housed the power jack and a DB9 RS232 serial port.

Note the thermal engineering of the device. As is the case in many small volume designs (as compared to desktops or large laptops), processor heat is removed via copper tubing conduits that connect to a heat exchanger and fan.

The image to the left shows the thermal footprint of the PX-501. The infrared picture on top, taken with our lab's Flir One thermal imaging camera, shows the heat generating components of the design, and how effectively the copper conduit conducts heat away from the processor and to the heat exchanger with its large surface area. The quiet fan then draws in cool surrounding air to remove the heat.

So far I have referred to the housing of the PX-501 as "plastic." But not all plastics are equal. What RuggON is using is PC+ABS-FR(40)<94V0. PC+ABS stands for PolyCarbonate + Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene, which is an alloy that combines the strength of polycarbonates with the high abuse resistance of ABS. FR means it's a Flame Retardant material, and <94V0 refers to the UL 94 standard for flammability safety for plastic materials, with V0 meaning that in a test, a vertically held sliver of that material stops burning after 10 seconds, with no burning drips. This is good stuff RuggON is using to build its tablets.

Also of note is the fairly substantial 9.7 watt-hour bridge battery that makes the main battery hot-swappable. Almost ten watt-hours is enough for even a lengthy main battery interruption.

The image to the right shows the PX-501's standard 48.6 watt-hour battery that RuggON says is good for about 6.5 hours (we measured a minimum constant draw of 6.8 watts, so that sounds about right). For those who need more, we recommend the optional 97.2 watt-hour battery (the larger battery in the picture to the right) that adds a bulge and some weight, but is really a better match for the high-powered chip.

Our eval unit didn't come with the optional integrated 1D/2D barcode reader. The scanner window is molded into the housing and the scanner mount bracket is part of every PX-501 as well.

The image compilations below shows some of the interesting details of the RuggON PX-501. On the left you can see a close-up of the tiny little clip guides RuggON is using to keep wires in place and neatly arranged. In the middle are the mounts for the external antenna pass-throughs. And on the right you can see the neatly cut groove around the perimeter of the tablet that, together with the corresponding tongue in the other half of the housing, makes the seal.

Below on the left is a closer look at the copper tubing that channels heat away from the processor and ancillary circuitry, and to the virtually silent fan-powered heat exchanger. On the right is the unusually powerful 9.7 watt-hour backup battery.

Very sharp, very bright 10-point procap multi-touch display

Almost all high-end brand name tablets have good displays these days. Even consumer tablets generally remain viewable outdoors. iPad class tablets usually have strong backlights that generate luminance in the 400+ nits range, and most displays offer the near-perfect viewing angles from all directions that we consider mandatory in a tablet. That does not apply to most 'white box" and other assorted low-end tablets, of course, but brand-name consumer gear certainly has come a long way.

Rugged tablet computers will be used outdoors and that includes bright, direct sunlight. Standard transmissive LCD displays, however, wash out in daylight, and that's why over the past few years, sunlight-readability has become a major selling point in the rugged notebook sector. The current standard as far as outdoor-viewable display technology goes is a combination of a bright backlight, anti-reflective coatings, linear and circular polarizers, and — to reduce the number of reflecting surfaces — direct bonding of as many of the LCD assembly's layers as possible. All the major players in the rugged/outdoor arena use those technologies, and the difference between approaches boils down to the presence and extent of those expensive optical coatings, how they are applied, how the various layers are bonded, and backlight brightness. All of the major rugged tablet and notebook makers uses variations of these sunlight-viewable technologies.

All that said, RuggON really nailed it with the display they chose. It's truly terrific. Measuring 10.1 inches diagonally, it sports super-sharp 1920 x 1200 pixel resolution. This means the 16 : 10 aspect ratio that to many eyes is just about perfect, not too boxy and not too wide. 1920 x 1200 means 2.3 million pixels, well over twice as many pixels as in 11.6-inch/1366 x 768 tablets that have become sort of a standard. Expressed in pixels per inch, the PX-501 stands at 224 ppi — that's "retina" level resolution in Apple parlance — compared to just 135 ppi for 11.6-inch/1366 x 768 standard devices.

Resolution isn't everything, of course; there's also backlight brightness. Here, again, RuggON pulled out all the stops with a very strong backlight that makes for brilliant 1,000 nits luminance. To provide an idea how well all this works, below are a few comparison pictures between the RuggON PX-501 and an Apple iPad Air 2. The iPad has an excellent screen, but as can be seen below, it's neither as bright nor can it control reflections as effectively as the RuggON tablet. The iPad also sports a bit of a pinkish hue, whereas the PX-501 display looks more natural.

Another syndrome we often observe is that displays look dimmer when viewed from an angle. As the picture below shows, the iPad is somewhat affected by this syndrome, not much but noticeable, whereas the PC-501 isn't.

The picture below, finally, shows the RuggON tablet sitting in an icy-cold stream in broad daylight. Even under those conditions, the display remains bright. Not just viewable, but downright brilliant.

Capacitive multi-touch works as quickly and effortlessly as users have come to expect from a tablet these days. Capacitive touch controllers have become more sensitive over the past few years, and the one used in the RuggON PX-501 can be used while wearing some types of thin gloves.

As great and successful as capacitive multi-touch is, Windows with all of its tiny scrollers, check boxes and pull-downs isn't a natural for it. That's even the case once Windows has been optimized for touch. And since Windows doesn't automatically adjust for screen resolution, some user interface elements can be super-tiny on very high-res displays such as the PX-501's. Likely as a result of that, RuggON ships the tablet with a compact 4-inch long Wacom style active pen.

Wacom's digitizer technology remains an excellent match for Windows tablets. Microsoft has supported the Wacom pen for many years (the 2001 Tablet PC initiative was built around active pens), most of the Windows pen functionality was designed for this type of pen, and the technology provides "cursor tracking," i.e. the cursor follows the tip of the pen even if it's almost an inch away from the display surface.

How do touch and active pen co-exist? Like this: when the tablet detects finger touch, it turns off pen recognition. If it detects the pen on the surface, it turns off touch recognition. Works beautifully.

Dual cameras

The RuggON PX-501 has front and rear cameras, as is standard on most modern tablets. On the front is a 2-megapixel webcam. The rear camera is for picture taking and documentation. It has a 5-megapixel imager, and the pictures we took came out in 2,592 x 1,944 pixel resolution. Camera operation on our review unit was via a special camera application that was accessible as a choice on the tablet's DashON utility. Image settings allowed selecting resolutions ranging from 1280 x 720 up to full 5mp for the documentation camera, with the same menu being used for the webcam. Both cameras can be used for stills as well as for video.

As we've repeatedly mentioned over the years, our experience with cameras integrated into rugged vertical market handhelds and tablets has generally been underwhelming, with most lagging well behind what's available in dedicated point & shoots and consumer smartphones. The situation is getting better, probably in part due to pressure from customers who by now are used to consumer smartphones and tablets equipped with very good cameras. We were pleased to find that the rear-facing documentation camera of the PX-501 is up to the task. After a bit of practice, the test pictures we took with the device were good enough for most field documentation tasks.

The screen snap to the right shows what the camera app looks like in picture-taking mode.

The user interface is attractive and logical. In picture taking mode, you can toggle between still and video mode, turn geo-tagging on and off, set the flash mode, and select either the front or the rear camera. The settings mode is limited to image resolution and storage location. That will likely not be enough for most customers, so we assume that production models will include additional camera app options, or we overlooked something.

The pictures below were shot with the RuggON PX-501 in 5mp mode. Click on the image to bring up a full-size version.

The PX-501 documentation camera is capable of taking better pictures than what we generally see from industrial tablets. There is good sharpness and image detail, and little of the massive compression that often renders pictures from such integrated cameras useless due to artifacting.

Video is also better than what we've come to expect from cameras integrated into rugged devices. The camera doesn't fall behind and the maximum 1920 x 1080 recording format is useful (as well as expected by today's users spoiled by consumer phones).

Note that camera applications that come with mobile operating systems are often replaced with third party software optimized for certain imaging tasks, or developers and systems integrators include camera and video functionality directly into custom software.

Vehicle and desktop docks

One of the many things that sets consumer and vertical market tablets apart is accessories and peripherals. Consumer tablet vendors usually offer a protective case and nothing else. Third parties may offer generic or custom cases, but rarely anything made for professional or industrial use. That won't do for industrial-grade tablets, and so RuggON offers both a desktop and a vehicle dock.

While the desktop dock is fairly basic, the vehicle dock is every bit as tough and rugged as the tablet itself. There's ignition power support, the tablet can be locked to the dock, and the dock also guards against draining vehicle power. As for features, the dock provides USB, RS232 serial, RJ45 LAN, HDMI, VGA, audio, SMA antenna connectors as well as fused power. Antenna pass-through can be configured via the RuggON GUI utility.

For customers who intend to use the tablet in stationary locations, RuggON offers a VESA wall mount with the standard 75 x 75 mm hole pattern. This can be used with all sorts of VESA standard mounting solutions, such as those from RAM Mounts.

Tough enough for rough jobs out there

The primary reason for getting a rugged tablet instead of a lower-cost consumer solution is, well, ruggedness and reliability under duress. A rugged tablet must be able to operate in extreme temperatures, survive shock and vibration, as well as be able to withstand a variety of other environmental hazards and conditions, such as salt, altitude, solvents and cleaners, and so on. Designers of rugged computing mobile gear do this by using robust and resistant materials, physical protection mechanisms, appropriate sealing, and attention to very last detail that may affect durability.

How did RuggON address all of these issues with the PX-501?

With regard to protection from the elements, the PX-501 carries IP65 sealing where the "6" means it's totally dustproof, and the "5" that it is also sealed against, according to the IP classification system chart, low pressure water jets from all directions. That's far better sealing that standard consumer tablets have.

That said, consumer smartphones smartphones are catching up in terms of sealing. Some are now now available in IP67- and even IP68-rated versions, raising expectations. In general, it's more difficult to seal larger devices than smaller ones, and also devices with multiple ports and controls than those that have just one or two. We expect the industry to move towards almost universal IP67 protection for fully rugged devices, if not for absolute need then for the additional peace of mind.

The PX-501 can handle repeated drops from five feet. That's a foot more than the standard drop height in the MIL-STD-810G tests. Four feet is standard because that's the approximate distance a tablet falls when it's accidentally dropped while being used in a standing position. It's always better to exceed a standard, and the PX-501 does.

The stated operating temperature range of -4 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit (-20 to 60 degrees Celsius) also exceeds that of most rugged devices. This means the PX-501 can be used in commercial freezers as well as in hot desert climates.

The display uses Corning Gorilla Glass 3 that provides even more protection against breakage and scratching than the first two generations. That's especially important in large-screen handhelds such as the PX-501.

Additional display protection is provided by a display that's slightly recessed around its perimeter and then also benefits from additional protection from the corner rubber bumpers. This provides much better protection that consumer tablets where the entire front is flush glass.

Our examination of the interior construction of the PX-501 suggests a high degree of toughness and ability to withstand accidents and abuse. There is evidence of ample shock absorption and there are no components that can easily rattle loose. Like any advanced rugged device, the PX-501 relies on multiple seals to keep dust and liquids out. These are all well designed and easy to keep in good working condition.

Overall, the RuggON PX-501 is right up there with the toughest and most robust devices we've tested here at RuggedPCReview.com.

Summary: RuggON PX-501 — a tough, ultra-rugged high-performance tablet for demanding applications

With the "Rextorm" line of rugged tablets, RuggON offers a superb and highly versatile hardware platform that comes both in Windows and in Android versions, and with a wide range of performance, ranging from the Intel Atom-based PM-521 to the 5th generation Intel Core processor-based top-of-the-line PX-501 examined in this review.

Designed as a general purpose rugged tablet, the PX-501 can be used for a vast variety of applications. Its very sharp and very bright 10.1-inch display make it especially suitable for graphics-intense mapping and positioning deployments where precision and minute details matter. The powerful Intel "Broadwell" processor makes for excellent performance. There is a fan, but it's so quiet that it's virtually inaudible.

Great praise goes to the PX-501's 1920 x 1200 pixel display that's among the best we've seen. It offers perfect viewing angles from all directions, and does so without any annoying changes in hue or brightness. The Gorilla Glass-protected 10-point capacitive multi-touch screen is quick and responsive. The supplied Wacom-technology batteryless active pen is a perfect complement to touch and works very well with Windows.

As elegant as the PX-501 looks, it's tough as nails and exudes a sense of quality and invulnerability. This tablet can survive repeated 5-foot drops, can operate in icy cold and blistering heat, and its IP65 sealing means it can easily handle dust and rain and worse.

With the Windows-based and Intel Broadwell-powered Rextorm PX-501, RuggON provides a very compelling rugged tablet solution that convinces on every level. The PX-501 is a modern and impressively rugged solution for all sorts of field data capture and communications deployments via a roster of add-on and snap-on modules. It will undoubtedly be of substantial interest to enterprise, industrial and vertical market customers. -- Conrad H. Blickenstorfer, January 2016

RuggON Rextorm PX-501 Specs:

Added/changed Added 09/2015, full review 01/2016
Type Rugged Windows Tablet PC
Processor Intel i5-5350U: 1.8GHz (2.9GHz turbo)
Intel i5-4300U: 1.9GHz (2.9GHz turbo)
Graphics Intel i5-5350U: Intel HD Graphics 6000
Intel i5-4300U: Intel HD Graphics 4400
OS Windows 7 Pro/WES7P, Windows Embedded 8.1 Industry Pro, WES8, Windows 10
Standard/Max RAM 4GB or 8GB DDR3L SO-DIMM
Disk/drive 120GB mSATA SSD (optional 240GB)
Display type Sunlight-readable TFT with LED backlight, 1,000 nits luminance, water/palm rejection, Gorilla Glass 3
Display size/resolution 10.1-inch/WUXGA (1920 x 1200 pixel)
Digitizer 10-point projected capacitive multi-touch, glove touch, 2mm capacitive pen, optional active digitizer
Keyboard/keys Onscreen, optional external
Navigation Touch, stylus
Expansion slots 1 x micro SIM card, 1 x Micro SD card
Housing Unknown
Size 11.0" x 7.7" x 0.9" (280mm x 195mm x 23mm)
Weight 3.00 lb. (1.36kg) with battery
Operating temperature -4° to 140°F (-20° to 60°C)
Ingress protection IP65 (totally dustproof, sealed against low pressure water jets from all directions)
Humidity MIL-STD-810G Method 507.5 Humidity Procedure II Aggravated Cycles (Fig 507.5-7), 5 to 95% non-condensing
Drop MIL-STD-810G Method 516.6 Procedure IV, 26 5-feet drops onto plywood
Vibration MIL-STD-810G Method 514.6 Category 4, Fig 514.6C-1, Fig 514.6C-2, Fig 514.6C-3
Altitude Est: MIL-STD-810G, Method 500.5, Procedures I & II
Power 4,500mAH, 10.8V, 48.6whr ("6.5 hours"), optional extended 9,000mAH, 10.8V, 97.2whr ("13 hours"), also 9.72 watt-hour backup battery
Camera Rear: 5-megapixel AF with LED flash, front: 2-megapixel webcam
Scanner Optional integrated 1D/2D imager
Sensors Gyroscope, G-sensor, E-compass, ambient light
Communication Intel Wireless-AC 7260 802.11ac WiFi, Bluetooth v4.0, optional: NFC RFID, GNSS (GPS/GLONASS/BeiDou), 3.5G or 4G LTE, mag stripe reader, 2D barcode scanner, CAC smart card reader
Interface 1 x USB 3.0, 1 x USB 2.0 (or optional RS232), 1 x gigabit RJ45, 1 x Micro HDMI, audio in/out, 2 x RF passthrough, dock
Price Inquire
Spec sheet RuggON PX-501 brochure (PDF)
Web page RuggON PX-501 web page
Contact RuggON Corporation
3F., No.10, Ln. 181, Sec. 2, Jiuzong Rd., Neihu Dist.
Taipei City 114, Taiwan (R.O.C.)
Fax: 886-2-8797-1881
Web: www.ruggon.com
info@ruggon.com