Getac Z710-Ex rugged Android tablet hands-on notes and pictures

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The Getac Z710-Ex is not your bog standard tablet. It is one of the very few such devices that comes with an ATEX (Explosive Atmosphere) Zone 2/22 certification, which means that it can be used in hazardous and explosive environments. It doesn’t make it a bomb-proof tablet but only just.

Fortunately, we don’t have such a harsh working environment at ITProPortal towers although journalists have been known to produce large amounts of hot (inert) gases.

Outwardly, this tablet, which Getac presents as the most secure rugged model, reminds me of the Fuhi Nabi 2, which is targeted at a completely different market (kids). Both however exhibit similar characteristics, an uncanny affinity for rubber and the use of Android as the operating system.

Inside, it runs on a TI OMAP 4430 dual-core SoC clocked at 1GHz, comes with 1GB of RAM, 16GB of RAM, a 7in glove-friendly display with a 1,024 x 600 pixel resolution with a couple of Getac’s own IP (Corning Gorilla Glass-infused LumiBond and QuadraClear which reduce sun reflection and enhance the physical strength of the LCD panel and the touchscreen).

The rest of the specification reads as follows: a microSD card reader, one USB 2.0 port, one mini USB one, speaker, microphone, a 30-pin docking station, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth v2.1, SiRFstar IV GPS with internal antenna and RF antenna pass-through for GPS and WWAN.

The tablet also has both wrist and an adjustable hand strap plus a magnetized, capacitive stylus with a tether (which as far as I’m concerned is probably the most fragile part of the device).

At the back of the tablet is a 5-megapixel camera with flash while the front is adorned by a HD webcam and three indicators (Wi-Fi, GPS and battery). The Getac Z710-Ex is powered by a massive non removable 7,600mAh battery, the biggest we’ve seen on a 7in tablet yet (that’s a whopping 75 per cent more than the Google Nexus 7) and one that takes up to six hours to charge. We have probed Getac why its battery life (up to 10 hours) is so average and will amend the article when we get a conclusive answer from them.

The model we were sent – the Premium Plus - comes with a barcode reader located at the top of the Z710-Ex, a card slot that accommodates a SIM card for 3G (and you can even make phone calls through the tablet). Customers can get an RFID and contactless smart card reader as an option although we were not surprised to see a fingerprint reader missing out.

Getac bundled a few applications with the tablet other than the standard set of software delivered with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. There’s a file manager, a GPS-E compass, barcode and RFID readers plus a customized user interface that shrinks the size of the display to around 1,024 x 500 pixels. Not ideal.

But the Z710-Ex impresses most when it comes to the wide range of certifications it supports. IP65, MIL-STD-810G and ATEX Zone 2/22. Note that while the tablet is totally protected against dust, it is not waterproof but “Protected against low pressure jets if water from all directions, limited ingress permitted.”

With an SRP starting from £722 ex. VAT, this is not your everyday tablet and one which will not impress when it comes to performance (we didn’t run any benchmarks but it should be just as fast as the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2.0 7in).

However the sheer array of features it offers and the degree of bashing it can take (we tried a fair few in the office including shoving the screen against a table corner) means that it will welcomed by field workers looking for a reasonably portable device Add in the various options though and the price starts to shoot up. The Premium Plus model which includes the modem and the 1D/2D barcode reader hikes the price to around £1,137 + VAT. But this is still pretty much one of the cheapest rugged tablets on the market right now and one of the best value-for-money units as well.