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DT Research DT301S

Entering the burgeoning 2-in-1 hybrid market with a solid, well-conceived, interchangeable solution
(by Conrad H. Blickenstorfer)

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On July 18, 2016, DT Research announced new versions of its popular 10.1-inch DT301 and 11.6-inch DT311 ultra-rugged tablets. In addition to various spec updates, the new versions come in 2-in-1 hybrid configurations, featuring water-resistant detachable keyboards, internal hot-swappable batteries, and advanced hardware-software security.

The rationale for adding 2-in-1 versions

"Mobile tablets are fast becoming the 'go to' computing device for the military and other field jobs," said Daw Tsai Sc.D., president of DT Research. "But as the use of mobile tablets has risen, we saw that users need the flexibility to use tablets in a variety of settings. Our new 2-in-1 ultra-rugged tablets can dynamically adapt to indoor and outdoor use, while remaining light and durable with our signature fully-integrated design."

So why did DT Research launch these two 2-in-1s? In essence because that's where the market is going. Tablets have revolutionized the world, but primarily in the media consumption area; for real work sitting down with a keyboard is still needed, and may always be needed. While it's possible to hook up a keyboard with most tablets, the combination really has to be just right in order for it to work. And that was the DT Research engineers' goal, to create a 2-in-1 solution that works.

For a bit of history, 2-in-1s aren't new. They go back pretty much to the beginnings of pen computing and tablets over 20 years ago. But the designs never worked well enough to break through. Initially the problem was that packing all the electronics into a lightweight tablet just wasn't possible. So the attempted 2-in-1s were unwieldy and top-heavy. Convertible notebooks with rotating displays have had their niche for many years, but not more than that. Most recently, cardboard-thin keyboards that attach magnetically to modern tablets have made inroads, but generally don't make for a truly practical solution.

So what makes the DT Research solution different? A few things:

  • the keyboard is a real keyboard people can actually use, not one of those wavers that are impossible to type on.
  • the keyboard has a real, sturdy hinges that allow easy angle adjustment and a solid connection.
  • the tablet and keyboard fit and work together better than most.
  • the keyboard and all pertaining accessories are interchangeable within the company's 2-in-1 lineup.

Roomy, thin & light

As for the tablet part of the DT301S 2-in-1 hybrid, this is one of the company's newest platforms. Sporting a modern, attractive design that instantly makes it clear that this is a rugged, businesslike piece of hardware, the DT301S is built on Intel's advanced "Skylake" 6th generation of Core processors, providing excellent performance in a fanless, economical package.

Measuring 10.7 x 7.5 x 0.86 inches and weighing well under three pounds, the DT301S includes a full-slot Smart Card reader, has a hot-swappable 44.3 watt-hour battery, comes with speedy dual-band 802.11ac WiFi, and Bluetooth 4.0. Optionally available are a 4G LTE mobile broadband module, front and rear cameras, a 1D/2D barcode scanner, an NFC/RFID reader.

The tablet's 10.1-inch display offers full 1920 x 1080 1080p pixel resolution, making for a razor-sharp 224 pixels per inch, and offering enough room for even complex applications. And like most recent Windows tablets, the DT301S has capacitive multi-touch, but DT Research also offers an active digitizer with a high-precision digital pen.

Tough and rugged

On the ruggedness side, the DT301S's ABS+PC polycarbonate and magnesium-aluminum alloy construction mean that the tablet is a lot sturdier and tougher than its light and elegant design suggest. The specs state IP65 sealing for the front panel, which means it's fully protected against dust, and also protected against low pressure water jets from all directions. The standard operating temperature range is a very wide -4 to 140 degrees, making the system deployable almost anywhere. DT Research also claims MIL-STD-810G testing for drop, shock and vibration, as well as MIL-STD-461F certification for EMI and EMC tolerance.

Attention to security

The DT311H addresses security both in software and hardware. Taking advantage of Windows 10 IoT Enterprise OS security, the DT311H also features Device Guard enterprise hardware and software security that only allow the tablet to run trusted applications with TPM 1.2 and 2.0 support. Lock Down features protect against malicious users. DT Research adds its own proprietary hardware security, such as media sanitization option that supports both NSA and USA-AF/Navy/Army standards. Hardware security options also include camera privacy mode, instant blackout, as well as automatic Bluetooth, RFID and WiFi disable functions that can be pre-configured to turn off all radio capabilities under certain conditions.

Contemporary and looking ahead

With the light and compact DT301S, DT Research offers a state-of-the-art, Intel Skylake-powered thin-and-light tablet that's tough enough to be deployed in vast array of applications that require more than run-of-the-mill consumer tablets can provide. And the addition of a 2-in-1 version of the DT301S makes the platform that much more attractive.

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Specifications DT Research DT301S
Status Added 07/2016, full review 01/2017
Form-factor Mobile 2-in-1 tablet
OS Microsoft Windows 7 Professional or Windows 10 IoT Enterprise
Processor Dual-core Intel Core i7-6600U or
Dual-core Intel Core i5-6300U
CPU base speed Core i7-6600U: 2.6GHz
Core i5-6300U: 2.4GHz
CPU turbo speed Core i7-6600U: 3.0GHz
Core i5-6300U: 3.4GHz
Thermal Design Power Core i7-6600U: 15 watts
Core i5-6300U: 15 watts
Graphics Core i7-6600U: HD Graphics 520
Core i5-6300U: HD Graphics 520
Standard/Max RAM 4GB or 8GBM
Disk/drive 128GB to 512GB Flash
Card slots 1 x Smart Card/CAC
Display type Outdoor-viewable TFT with LED backlight, anti-reflection coating
Display size/res 10.1-inch/1920 x 1200 pixel FHD (224 ppi)
Digitizer/pens Capacitive multi-touch, optional active digitizer/pen
Keyboard/controls Detachable 81-key keyboard, 3 programmable buttons, RF button
Operating temp. -4° to 140°F (-20° to 60°C)
Shock MIL-STD-810G (4-foot drop)
Vibration MIL-STD-810G
Sealing IP65
Humidity 0% to 90% non-condensing
Regulatory FCC Class B, CE, RoHS compliant
Housing ABS+PC plastics and magnesium-aluminum alloy
Size (WxHxD) 10.7 x 7.5 x 0.86 inches (272 x 190 x 22 mm)
Weight 2.86 lbs. (1.3kg)
Power 7.2V 6,150 mAH Li-Ion (44.3 watt-hours), hot-swappable
Cameras Optional: 2mp front camera, 5mp back AF camera with LED flash
Data capture Optional: 1D/2D barcode scanner, NFC/HF-RFID
Interface 1 x USB 3.0, 1 x 3.5mm audio in/out, power
Wireless 802.11ac WiFi, Bluetooth v4.0 LE (optional Class 1), optional: 4G LTE, HSPA+, GSM/GPRS/EDGE, EV-DO, Rev A and 1xRTT
List price Starting at US$1,665
Web DT301S product page
Spec sheet DT301S spec sheet (PDF)