GCN LAB REVIEWS
Motion Computing J3500 is a light, rugged tablet with surprising power
- By John Breeden II
- Sep 29, 2010
The Motion Computing J3500 is a sleek slate tablet PC that lets you cheat and plug in to a clever docking station that adds a full-size, waterproof keyboard to the configuration. The keyboard even folds up for easy transport if you want to take it with you. Removed of the keyboard and its power cables, the J3500 weighs only 3 pounds, 13 ounces.
We were surprised to find that the J3500 was able to score 366.7 on the PassMark Performance Test 7.1 benchmarks. That means that it is able to handle not only all office-related tasks but also quite a few more advanced programs, such as Adobe Photoshop and speech recognition. Despite its small size, it ran our worst-case scenario battery life testing, going full out with a movie playing and brightness and sound gauges wedged at 80 percent, for 3 hours, 20 minutes. Pound for pound, that makes it one of the best in terms of battery life.
Motion Computing J3500
Pros: Very light for a rugged device; good battery life; decent benchmark scores.
Cons: Pen does not stay in place even in low drops; minor cosmetic damage during shock testing.
Rugged Level: B
Ease of use: A+
Price: $3,112 as configured for test
10 rugged devices that are fit for all seasons
We were a little worried that the light frame couldn’t handle the elements, but we were soon proven wrong. It came out of the GCN Rainforest environment with a very cool surface temperature despite the 120 degree heat and close to 100 percent humidity. And it survived in the cold chamber, running a program in below-zero temperatures for more than an hour.
When it came to dropping the unit according to mil specs onto plywood sitting over concrete, it suffered only cosmetic damage after 144 drops at heights from 1 foot to 4 feet. During one 3-foot drop, a vent popped off the unit, but it seemed to only be affixed with glue. We simply stuck it back in place, and it held on from that point forward.
The unit’s biggest flaw was that the pen, which is needed to use the touch screen, isn’t held in place well at all. It popped off during some 1-foot drops and almost every time at heights above that. In fact, ours got pinched under the unit and broke. If we tapped the screen enough times, we could still issue commands on the broken pen. But for such a vital component, it needs better protection. Still, the tablet suffered no real damage and booted after each drop.
The $3,112 retail price is a good bargain and includes that cool and functional keyboard docking station.
There are a lot of useful ports on the J3500, and they are all hidden behind secret — somewhat hidden — panels that blend in with the unit's bumpy plastic back. Thus, the J3500 would be at home in the hands of a hostess of some trendy restaurant or federal employees working hard in a dusty state or local field office.
Motion Computing, www.motioncomputing.com