Tougher mobile technology – laptops and tablet PCs

I’m a relatively inexperienced traveler. I’ve only flown approximately tens times in my entire life, and most of those have been in the past 18 months. It’s been great, however I always find it difficult to decide what mobile devices to carry with me. I always carry my DROID and iPhone, but can never seem to pick between laptop, tablet PC or both. Yes I’ve thought about the iPad, but I really need a physical keyboard and more robust applications for what I do. My needs may change in the future, but for now that’s my take on the issue.

My laptop has a nice 15″ screen, but weighs quite a bit more than my tablet PC and has shorter battery life. My Dell XT2 has a smaller screen, but is much lighter, i.e. more portable, and has the added benefits of being a tablet. I’ve found it much easier to work on the tablet in small spaces when compared to the laptop. In fact, I am usually unable to open my laptop on a plane because it doesn’t fit between me and the seat in front of me with the screen fully upright. For these reasons the tablet has been my mobile platform of choice lately. A tablet PC with a slightly larger screen would be optimal, but the only company that I’m aware of that still makes a tablet PC with a larger screen is Fujitsu; the Fujitsu Lifebook 900 series has a 13.3″ screen.

There’s only one real problem with the Dell XT2 tablet and that is its lack of toughness. The tablet has performed pretty well overall, but it is showing signs of wear and tear much sooner than I expected; I mentioned this briefly in an earlier post. My laptops typically don’t last more than about two years secondary to heavy use and my need for newer technology. Its about time for me to start shopping.

It’s important to understand that my mobile machines get heavy use in all kinds of interesting places – work, home, the cheer gym, Starbucks, track meets, sitting in my truck, etc – so don’t apply what I’m saying to the average user sitting on the couch at home surfing the internet or composing an occasional letter. My machines don’t get abused, but they certainly get worked. It doesn’t help that I’m addicted to this stuff and have a gadget compulsion that needs to be fed constantly. Anyway, with all this in mind I’ve started looking for a new device. I’d like to forgo the laptop and simply use a tablet PC full time, but I think I would miss the larger screen on occasion. So for now I’ve decided to stick with a tablet PC plus a laptop, and based on my track record with “business machines” I’ve decided to look at semi-rugged devices instead. This is a first for me and I’ve found the search to be quite exciting.

When you want a rugged device look no further than Panasonic’s Toughbook lineup. And I think they may have the tablet PC that I’m looking for. Toughbook’s new tablet PC, the Toughbook C1 isn’t available for purchase just yet, but should be available sometime in June.

The C1 features a 12.1″ multi-touch digitizer, spill-resistant keyboard, a drop resistant magnesium alloy case and twin hot-swappable batteries offering 10 hours of continuous use. And you get is all for 3.7 pounds with both batteries in place; 3.2 pounds with single battery.

And for my laptop I’m looking at the Dell Latitude E6410 ATG. This beauty offers an Intel Core i7-620M processor running at 2.66GHZ, a 14.1″ WXGA outdoor viewable touch screen, backlit keyboard, a gesture-enabled touchpad and a 9-cell lithium ion battery along with a host of other features. The E6410 ATG meets the MIL-STD 810G standards for shock, vibration, altitude, humidity, and temperature extremes. In other words, it’s one tough piece of mobile hardware. The only downside to the E6410 ATG is its mind blowing 6 pound weight. That may take a little getting used to.

You can get more information on the MIL-STD 810G standards at the Toughbook website.

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