I have previously field tested ruggedized laptop computers and plenty of other “ruggedized” technology, but the ALGIZ 10X Rugged Tablet marks the first handheld computer – a tablet – that I’ve used and abused (that I can recall). I wasn’t sure what to expect and really wondered if it would take what the published materials said it would. We are, after all, talking about a handheld tablet computer built (mostly) for law enforcement and military users. Let’s be honest: to a cop or a soldier, everything is a hammer first, doorstop or paperweight second, and its actual primary design purpose third. I received a “rugged” ALGIZ 10X Tablet for field testing and had to adjust my outlook.
Rugged: what image does the word bring to your mind? For me it brings forth mountain scenery with lots of boulders, big pine trees, cold foamy white water cascading over the rocks down the mountainside. That’s “rugged” terrain. It also makes me think of vehicles built to be driven over such terrain, beaten and abused but still running and covering ground as bid knobby tires chew up dirt and forest bed. What doesn’t usually come to mind is a computer… of any kind; but now that’s changed.
To be honest, I was wary of testing this tablet. I was sure I was going to break it beyond repair. After all, I was allowed to get it wet, drop it, get it dirty, get it cold, get it hot, etc. I had been told, and the published material about the ALGIZ 10X carefully details, the capabilities of it as relates to what “abuse” it would take and still function. My concern was that I would do drop tests with it and then do the immersion testing with it, only to find out that I’d somehow cracked the casing or dislodged a seal and then ruined it by getting water inside it. Even if the amount of water that got inside the case was minimal, when I put it in the freezer (to test its ability to withstand cold extremes) or left it out to bake in the sun (other temperature extreme), any moisture that did get inside would cause issues. I apparently needn’t have worried.
I could go through the entire description of how ruggedized computers are rated and what all the numbers mean, but there’s not enough space here and I’m not that technical in my testing. The unit will either take the common use and abuse it’ll get from law enforcement officers or it won’t. It’s that simple. So, with my test unit charged, the necessary software installed and the wi-fi enabled, I set about using it just like I would if my agency had issued it to me. I should say up front that it has a 128GB hard drive and 4GB of RAM. I can’t imagine needing more than that on the street.
It wasn’t as big as I expected it to be. Even reading the specification that says it’s 1.2” thick an weighs less than three pounds just doesn’t relate to how it feels. “Under three pounds” isn’t heavy until you have to hold it to write on for an hour or so. That said, OVER three pounds is worse. 1.2” is easy to grasp and hold in your hand. Actually, if you make a U out of your thumb and four fingers, the 1.2” is easily the distance between them – which translates into the unit being easy to hold in one hand.
First up, get it wet. Every cop I know works in the rain and snow. Since it was September as I was testing the unit, snow was out of the question. Rain, however, we had plenty of – or at least enough. Simulating using the unit to document a traffic accident and prepare the requisite report, I had it out on a rainy afternoon to take pictures with the built in 5 megapixel camera and to write up a document in Word. It performed flawlessly and didn’t react negatively to sitting in the rain for better than a half hour.
Second up, cold. When I took it back inside I wiped it with a towel – not thoroughly drying it, but just wiping off the standing water drops – and then put it in the freezer until it was cold to the touch. It still functioned without a problem.