DT301T rugged tablet review

Review: DT Research DT301T Rugged Tablet

I have been using for almost a month now the DT301T Rugged Tablet by DT Research, and I gotta say I am really impressed by this beast even when it is like their entry level model. I’d like to see what their other models can do.

DT301T Specs

CPU: Intel® 8th Generation Core™ i5 or i7 quad-core processor
RAM: 8GB or 16GB
STORAGE: 128GB to 1TB flash
OPERATING SYSTEM: Microsoft® Windows® 10 IoT Enterprise
DISPLAY: 10.1” LED-backlight, high-brightness (800 nits) screen with capacitive multi-touch, outdoor viewable
NETWORK INTERFACE: Wi-Fi 802.11ac, 2.4GHz/ 5GHz dual band; Bluetooth 4.0 LE
CONTROL SWITCH & BUTTONS: 1 power button, 3 programmable buttons, RF switch
INDICATOR: 1 power/ battery status LED
MICROPHONE: Built-in microphone with DSP for real-time video
SPEAKER: Built-in speaker

USB PORTS: 1 (USB 3.0)
AUDIO JACKS: 1 (3.5mm)
DC-IN: 1
SMARTCARD/CAC Reader: Full slot, reads ISO 7816 T=0, T=1; 1.8/3/5V smart card

BARCODE SCANNER: 2D barcode scanner; reads 1D also
CAMERA: 5 megapixel front camera
GNSS MODULE: U-blox M8 GNSS module with concurrent reception of GPS and GLONASS, industry leading -167dBm navigation sensitivity

The model I’ve been testing rocks 16GB RAM and 1TB of flash storage. While this thing is a lot heavier than say an iPad or a Galaxy Tab, it will last a lot longer and has way more functionality than both since it is running a full version of Windows. I am actually so impressed by this device that I have already pitched it to my other job at Amazon to use in our warehouses.

When first booting up it loads to a login screen in a matter of a few seconds, and once logged in you’re at your desktop ready to go pretty much instantly. That is something that I cannot say about my Dell Inspiron laptop–which seems to take a good 20 minutes to load everything.

It has a few buttons on the front next to the power button that you can customize and map to do pretty much anything.

There is a piece of security software built in so when used in an organization–let’s say the Department of Defense–the system administrator can set to disable the camera when you enter a photo sensitive area of a facility, but then the camera is re-enabled when you leave that area. You could also use this functionality to disable wi-fi and 4G when you enter an area where no internet access is allowed.

Do you work for a company that requires a SmartCard/CAC Card to access any computer system. The DT301T has got you covered there as well with a SmartCard/CAC Card reader built in.

And my favorite thing and one of the many reasons I pitched this to Amazon is the hotswap batteries that allow for zero down time. When I am at work, we have 15-inch laptops and then carry around a USB barcode scanner. When the laptop is dead or dying, you have to go find a charger and stay in one area while it charges, or go find another laptop and re-login, as most of the laptops only have an internal non-removable battery. The few that have a swapable battery still require you to power down the laptop, swap the battery, then turn it back on. The DT301T is designed for zero down time–engineered for use in military and medical settings. I assume there is some other internal power source that enables it to maintain its state while you replace the primary battery.

I like how portable it is. At Amazon, if I’m walking down an aisle that already has people in it, it is pretty much too crowded for another person pushing a laptop on a cart. This would help with that as the DT301T I received comes with hand straps (not sure if they all come with it) that allows me to hold it with one hand. They also have an optional shoulder strap to allow you to use both hands if necessary. Just let go and let it dangle around your neck or shoulder until you need it again.

Now the downsides. There are not many.

It comes with a stylus, which is tethered to the device so you won’t lose it. But, there is nowhere in the device to store it. Also, it automatically turns off after only a few seconds of inactivity and you have to push the button to wake it up again almost every time you use it.

The optional, attachable keyboard just looks and feels weird to use. On the plus side, the DT301T does have a kickstand to prop it up at an optimal angle for typing. Don’t plan on playing any hardcore games with this keyboard, though.

the DT301T only has 1 USB Port. I would like to see at least 3.

It has covers over the ports to prevent dust or debris from getting inside. I had an issue, though, where one of the covers wouldn’t stay closed. More of an annoyance than anything, but it could be an issue if you were working outside where there’s more dirt.

I dropped the DT301T on purpose a few times to see how tough it is. This tablet is super strong and didn’t get a scratch.

The model I tested was not equipped with 4G / LTE wireless or the optional barcode scanner, so I did not test those features and can’t share any insight.

Can you upgrade to add those features? I contacted DT Research to see if it’s possible to add 4G / LTE or the barcode scanner after the fact. They explained that these devices are built to order and they always suggest you order it they way you want it. They can add things like 4G / LTE later, but it’s not as simple as just sending you a module to install yourself. You would have to ship them the device, and they will add it and send it back to you. That means you would have downtime without the device, plus the cost of shipping and the parts, and probably labor as well. Bottom line: buy it the way you want it, because adding those things later is a pain.

Minor issues aside, I really love the DT301T.

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