GCN LAB REVIEW—Rugged devices

Motion Computing J3400 Tablet PC

Pure tablet performs well under trying circumstances

Pros: Low price for a rugged computer, large screen, two batteries.
Cons: Suffered several minor cracks in shock test.
Ruggedness: B+
Performance: B
Ease of use: A
Features: A-
Value: A
Price: $2,348

Motion Computing was one of the earliest companies in the tablet PC market. And it’s the only one that completely embraced the slate format and survived without reverting to convertible models.

A pure slate tablet has no keyboard and generally is thinner and lighter than a convertible. The J3400 Tablet PC follows this pattern. It’s a fully rugged unit with a huge 12.1-inch display and weighs just less than four pounds with two batteries snapped in place. If you need a keyboard, you can get a docking station-like model for use when the J3400 Tablet PC is on your desk.

The J3400 is surprisingly fast, coming in with a score of 447.7 in the Passmark Performance benchmarks — hardly the fastest unit in this roundup but more than adequate for most tasks.

The LCD screen has good backlighting, readable in most conditions other than direct sunlight. It also has a 180-degree viewing angle, which makes it perfect for tablet PC applications.

The unit we tested had a 2-megapixel camera mounted in the back, but this was an extra feature that can be removed for agents who work where cameras are forbidden.

The J3400 lasted 3 hours, 20 minutes in our worst-case scenario when both batteries were installed. That’s middle of the road in terms of runtime but surprising given the computer's light weight. On the plus side, the batteries charged completely in about a half hour, which was extremely quick.

In terms of ruggedness, it was fine with temperature extremes but lost quite a bit of its outlying grill and port covers in shock testing. One particular area on the J3400 Tablet PC seemed like an Achilles’ heel for the light magnesium chassis. In the upper right corner of the unit is a hole where the stylus can be stored. Drops onto that corner caused vent covers to pop off at every height we tested. At 36 inches, the frame of the J3400 was slightly bent when it landed on that spot. The unit booted fine after the damage, but Motion might want to look into securing that corner and perhaps adding slightly more rugged vent covers, which seemed like cheap plastic sitting over an otherwise classically designed system.

With a list price of $2,384, this is certainly the rugged tablet we would recommend for anyone who needs a tablet PC without the extra burden of a convertible setup.

Motion Computing, 866-682-2538, www.motioncomputing.com

About the Author

John Breeden II is a freelance technology writer for GCN.

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