When we get asked to review a device suitable for use within a field service environment, we don’t just look at the specs. We spend time with the device, get our ‘hands-on’ the device, and see how it operates in the day-to-day. In doing so, we can look beyond the technical specs and evaluate how the device might work in different potential field service roles in the real world.
If you’re looking for a pure tech-based review, you will find plenty of them on the internet, and while we, of course, take the specs of a device into account, we are more concerned about how devices will be used in the field.
In these reviews, we take that ‘hands-on’ experience and align it with the more traditional review so you, as a field service management professional, get not only a good understanding of where the strengths are of each device we review but also an honest appraisal of how the specifications laid out on the manufacturer’s website translate into the actual day to day usage.
And so now, onto the device, which this time around is Durabook’s R8 rugged tablet.
What the manufacturers say:
Equipped with the latest Intel® 12th Generation processors with Intel® Iris® Xe graphics, the R8 rugged tablet targets mobile workers of all kinds seeking superior performance in a compact, lightweight form. With unprecedented new computing power of Intel® Core™ and Pentium® Gold CPUs, the R8 is enhanced to cater for congested data processing and offers multi-tasking without compromise.
Plus, the high-speed data transmission capability of Thunderbolt™ 4, Intel® Wi-Fi 6E, and Bluetooth® V5.3 elevate exceptional connectivity even further to support ease of use.
OK, the R8 is a very impressive device in terms of the first impressions you get when you open the box.
Essentially, the moment you hold the Durabook R8 rugged tablet in your hands, it’s evident that this device means business. There is just a really impressive robustness to the build quality that we would expect from a rugged device, but also a professional appeal that some of its rugged peers can lack.
The Durabook R8 exudes durability with its solid construction, reinforced corners, and toughened display. The tablet’s weight provides a reassuring feeling of sturdiness without being overly cumbersome, coming in at 860g. The rugged design instills confidence that it can certainly handle the rigors of demanding field environments. However, the R8 also feels comfortable to hold, with a textured back cover that enhances grip and reduces the chances of accidental slips.
From an aesthetic perspective, the tablet’s sleek and modern design gives it a professional look, making it suitable for various industries and field service roles. The slim profile and well-placed physical buttons and ports enhance its aesthetic appeal. The four buttons on the top, three of which are programmable, feel solid while being unobtrusive, and the ports feel solid and secure, adding to the impression of a finely engineered piece of technology.
The display of the Durabook R8 is impressive, really impressive.
The bright and vibrant touchscreen provides sharp visuals and clear text, making it easy to read and navigate through applications. The touchscreen’s responsiveness is also fantastic and very satisfying, registering even the lightest touch with precision.
Overall, the initial feeling on taking the R8 out of the box is that it is clear that this rugged tablet is purpose-built for professionals who demand reliability, durability, and performance in their field service tasks. Now while looks can be deceiving, and of course, usability and performance are far more critical in the grand scheme of things, one of the most significant factors we, as service leaders, want when rolling out new devices is easy user adoption – and the R8 looks and feels like a device that new users will want to get to know and use.
The Durabook R8 rugged tablet is available in several different processor specifications. It has powerful processor options that deliver exceptional performance, enabling it to handle a wide range of demanding tasks in the field.
The Intel® Core™ i7-1250U (12th Gen) Processor with vPro™ stands out as the top-tier option, offering impressive processing capabilities. With a 12MB cache and the ability to reach up to 4.7 GHz speeds, this processor delivers exceptional performance for multitasking, data-intensive applications, and computational tasks. Field professionals can rely on the power of the i7-1250U to run resource-intensive software and handle complex field service operations smoothly.
The Intel® Core™ i5-1230U (12th Gen) Processor with vPro™ is another robust option for the Durabook R8. With a 12MB cache and up to 4.4 GHz speeds, this processor offers reliable performance for various field service tasks. It provides ample power for handling multitasking and running software applications efficiently, making it suitable for field service workers that require a balance between performance and value.
For most regular field service requirements, the i5 option will certainly meet your demands, and the Pentium is likely all that would be required for many field service use cases…
For those with more moderate processing needs, the Durabook R8 offers the Intel® Pentium® Gold Processor 8500. With an 8MB cache and up to 4.4 GHz speeds, this processor provides capable performance for essential field service tasks. While it may not offer the same level of processing power as the Core™ i7 and i5 options, it is still well-suited for general field service applications, data collection, and communication tasks.
The review unit we had for testing had the i5 processor, which was easily enough for the tasks we ran through it, which varied from simple apps to more complex CPU-intensive programs that we use in the day-to-day such as video processing software (that we always find a really good indicator). The R8 was more than comfortable with everything we asked it to do, the render time was a little slow on the video processing task, but that would be expected of any device with a similar spec. Ultimately, the R8 coped with the CPU load reasonably well, even with that type of intensive application.
Regardless of the chosen processor option, the Durabook R8’s processing power ensures that field professionals can efficiently handle demanding workloads. For field workers who require some heavy load CPU applications (for example, CAD or some complex data analytics, etc.), it may be worth taking the i7 processor. However, for most regular field service requirements, the i5 option will certainly meet your demands, and the Pentium is likely all that would be required for many field service use cases.
The R8 can run on either Windows 10 or 11 and offers a reliable and secure operating system, ensuring optimal performance and compatibility with field service operations.
For those who prefer familiarity and compatibility, Windows 10 is an excellent choice. Windows 10 is widely recognized for its user-friendly interface, extensive software compatibility, and vast ecosystem of productivity tools. Professionals can seamlessly navigate the operating system, access essential applications, and leverage industry-specific software, including familiar Microsoft Office applications. The robust security features and regular updates provided by Windows 10 protect sensitive data and secure operations in the field. This is important as that familiarity will, of course, help new user adoption rates.
However, for users who seek the latest features and advancements, the Durabook R8 is also available with Windows 11. Windows 11 builds upon the strengths of Windows 10 and introduces a refreshed, modern interface, delivering a more streamlined and visually appealing experience. It offers enhanced performance, improved multitasking capabilities, and new features designed to boost productivity and collaboration. Windows 11 also provides advanced security features, protecting data and ensuring users’ privacy. With its refined design and innovative features, Windows 11 on the Durabook R8 brings a fresh and future-ready operating system to field service professionals.
Of course, Windows 11 is reasonably well established now, so as time passes, the familiarity angle may become less pressing. Ultimately, keeping the same operating system where possible as other devices in the field and the office makes sense, so that is a consideration for your IT department. Still, it is good to know you are covered either way.
The other advantage is that Windows 10 and 11 offer seamless integration with Microsoft’s cloud services, enabling easy file synchronization, collaboration, and remote access to data. This could be very useful for any field service organization that documents work with photos or video as while such an approach saves time and often provides more information, files can get large, and being able to use cloud rather than local storage will be a good option for your field service techs or engineers.
The Durabook R8 rugged tablet offers a range of connectivity options, ensuring fast, reliable, and versatile communication capabilities for field service professionals.
The tablet is equipped with Intel® Wi-Fi 6E AX211 (802.11 ax), providing high-speed wireless connectivity with enhanced coverage and reduced latency. This advanced Wi-Fi standard allows seamless browsing, data transfer, and communication in various field environments, even in crowded wireless networks. The Wi-Fi 6E technology ensures that professionals can stay connected and access online resources with exceptional speed and reliability – and the R8 ran at incredible speeds in our tests, confirming that.
In addition to Wi-Fi, the Durabook R8 features Bluetooth® V5.3, enabling wireless connection to compatible devices such as headsets, printers, or other Bluetooth-enabled peripherals. This allows for convenient data exchange, wireless audio communication, and seamless device integration. Perhaps most importantly, as we enter into a world of remote service solutions, it allows Bluetooth headsets to talk to a remote expert. At the same time, the device is used as an augmented reality interaction tool.
This feature is particularly valuable for field service technicians who rely on real-time data synchronization, cloud-based applications, or communication with their teams while working on the go…
For professionals requiring constant connectivity beyond Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, the Durabook R8 offers optional GPS and 4G LTE multi-carrier mobile broadband. With the built-in GPS functionality, field service professionals can accurately determine their location and easily navigate. The optional 4G LTE multi-carrier mobile broadband provides reliable internet access, ensuring continuous connectivity even in remote areas or where Wi-Fi is unavailable. This feature is particularly valuable for field service technicians who rely on real-time data synchronization, cloud-based applications, or communication with their teams while working on the go.
The Durabook R8 supports RF antenna pass-through for GPS, WWAN, and WLAN to further enhance signal reception and communication capabilities. This feature enables external antennas to improve signal strength and ensure reliable communication in challenging field environments where signal strength may be compromised.
The Ins & Outs:
The R8 rugged tablet offers various inputs and outputs, providing versatile connectivity and expansion options for field service professionals.
Starting with the essential ports, the R8 features a Thunderbolt 4 port, providing high-speed data transfer and supporting various peripherals. Additionally, it includes a USB 3.2 Gen2 (type C) port, which supports DisplayPort and allows for fast data transfer and connectivity with compatible devices.
The tablet is equipped with an audio in/out combo jack, enabling users to connect headphones or external speakers for audio playback or communication. It also includes a microSD card slot that supports microSDXC, providing expandable storage for additional data or software resources.
For docking and connectivity to external devices, the Durabook R8 incorporates a 20-pin Pogo docking connector, allowing users to connect to compatible docking stations for enhanced functionality and connectivity.
A nano SIM card slot enables users to insert a SIM card for optional 4G/LTE connectivity, ensuring reliable internet access even in areas with limited Wi-Fi coverage.
Finally, to power the device, the Durabook R8 includes a DC-In jack for convenient charging and power input.
Although there are many options regarding Ins/Outs on such a small and rugged device, it is impressive how Durabook has kept the ports taking minimal space and being secured away in secured areas to further add to water and dust ingress. It certainly doesn’t feel at any point cluttered.
However, several optional ports could be added should the need arise for your specific use case, which includes options such as USB 3.2 Gen1 (type A) ports for additional USB connectivity, 10/100/1000 Ethernet (RJ45) ports for wired networking, serial ports (RS232) for connecting to legacy devices, and 1D/2D barcode readers for efficient data capture. The tablet also supports RF antenna pass-through for GPS, WWAN, and WLAN, improving field signal reception and communication capabilities.
The Durabook R8 rugged tablet provides various inputs and outputs to support versatile connectivity and expansion needs. With Thunderbolt 4, USB 3.2 Gen2, audio in/out combo jack, microSD card slot, docking connector, nano SIM card slot, and a DC-In jack, the tablet ensures seamless data transfer, audio connectivity, storage expansion, and power input. The optional ports and features enhance its functionality, enabling users to connect to various peripherals, network options, legacy devices, and specialized tools for efficient field service operations.
The Durabook R8 rugged tablet is built to withstand the harshest field environments, boasting impressive rugged credentials that ensure its durability and reliability in demanding conditions.
What is particularly impressive, is how how the R8’s fanless design, as Durabook called it Coolfinity, offers brings a real balance across high-end performance while allowing the device to be robust and rugged enough to meet the demands of the harshest environments, including oil and gas, and mining.
The tablet holds MIL-STD-810H certification, a rigorous military standard that validates its ability to withstand various environmental challenges. It has been tested and proven resistant to drops, shocks, vibrations, rain, dust, altitude, freeze/thaw cycles, high/low temperatures, temperature shocks, and humidity. With its robust construction, the Durabook R8 remains operational even in extreme situations, safeguarding critical data and functionality.
In addition to MIL-STD-810H, the Durabook R8 is MIL-STD-461G certified, ensuring its electromagnetic compatibility and resistance to conducted and radiated interference. This certification guarantees that the tablet can operate reliably in environments with electromagnetic disturbances, allowing field professionals to work without interference from electronic devices or electromagnetic sources.
The Durabook R8 is ANSI/UL 121201 certified for hazardous environments, meeting the stringent standards for Class I, Division 2 hazardous locations. This certification ensures that the tablet can be safely used in environments with flammable gases, vapors, or liquids.
Thanks to its rugged construction and reinforced corners, the Durabook R8 can withstand accidental drops from a height of 6 feet onto 26 faces. This drop resistance ensures that the tablet remains functional and undamaged even in real-world scenarios where accidents can happen.
With an IP66 certification, the Durabook R8 is fully protected against dust ingress and can withstand powerful water jets. This level of ingress protection makes the tablet suitable for use in dusty or wet environments, providing peace of mind to field professionals who often work in challenging conditions.
The Durabook R8’s aluminum-magnesium alloy chassis adds an extra layer of ruggedness, providing strength and durability while keeping the tablet lightweight. The port covers further enhance the tablet’s rugged credentials, protecting the ports from dust, moisture, and other environmental elements.
The sunlight-readable display of the Durabook R8 ensures clear visibility even in bright outdoor conditions. This is largely down to Durabook’s propriety technology DynaVue – which offers an incredible high contrast ratio, designed to eliminate internal reflections that enhance viewing clarity even from different angles, and in bright sunshine or low light conditions.
This is an excellent example of design that understand the challenges of the field, allowing field service professionals to view critical information and work efficiently in various lighting environments, eliminating visibility issues that can hinder productivity.
As we have come to expect from any Durabook product, the R8 really is at the top of the game regarding rugged credentials, making it a reliable choice for even the most demanding field environments. With MIL-STD-810H and MIL-STD-461G certifications, ANSI/UL 121201 compliance, drop resistance, IP66 certification, aluminum-magnesium alloy chassis, port covers, sunlight-readable display, and optional swappable battery technology, the Durabook R8 excels in durability, protection against environmental elements, and uninterrupted operation in the field.
OK, another area that is absolutely critical for use in the field – battery life. There is no point empowering our field service workers with durable and powerful devices if they can’t last an entire shift – and as we all know, in field service, sometimes the work demands long hours.
Fortunately, the Durabook R8 rugged tablet has a robust battery system that offers extended power, ensuring uninterrupted field operations and maximizing productivity.
The tablet has a main Li-Ion battery, rated at 7.6V and 3600mAh, capable of delivering up to 8.5 hours of continuous usage. This battery provides a reliable power source for field professionals, allowing them to work through their tasks without frequent recharging. With a battery life of up to 8.5 hours, the Durabook R8 supports a full day of field service operations on a single charge, minimizing downtime and maximizing productivity. Our tests found this to be pretty accurate, with the device being tested with a reasonable amount of usage that would mirror real-world use in the field and lasting around the 7 to 8-hour mark across each of the three days we tested it.
The swappable battery provides the flexibility to keep the tablet running in the field, allowing for extended work sessions or long-duration tasks….
However, the Durabook R8 offers an optional long-life battery for professionals who require even longer battery life. This Li-Ion battery, rated at 7.6V and 7200mAh, extends the tablet’s power capabilities, providing an impressive battery life of up to 17 hours. With the optional long-life battery, field professionals can confidently tackle demanding tasks throughout the day without worrying about running out of power. This extended battery life is particularly beneficial when access to power outlets may be limited or unavailable.
In addition to the long-life batteries, the Durabook R8 offers an optional swappable battery. With a quick 5-minute swap time, field professionals can easily replace the battery while on the go, ensuring uninterrupted operation. This feature is especially valuable for professionals who require continuous usage without relying on external power sources. The swappable battery provides the flexibility to keep the tablet running in the field, allowing for extended work sessions or long-duration tasks.
The AC adapter included with the Durabook R8 supports a wide range of power inputs, ranging from 100V to 240V and 50Hz to 60Hz, making it suitable for use in various regions.
Ultimately, the Durabook R8 rugged tablet offers extended battery life options, providing field service professionals with uninterrupted power for their operations. Whether using the main battery for up to 8.5 hours of usage, opting for the optional long-life battery for up to 17 hours of usage, or leveraging the optional swappable battery for continuous power, the Durabook R8 ensures that professionals can work efficiently and confidently in the field without the concern of running out of battery power.
Potential Use Cases:
The Durabook R8 rugged tablet is purpose-built to excel in diverse field service environments. Its exceptional features cater to the specific needs of professionals in various roles, ensuring optimal performance and reliability in demanding conditions. It indeed does have the potential to be suited to most field service roles, but some obvious deployments that came to mind after using the device include:
Field Service Technicians: The Durabook R8’s ruggedness, portability, and powerful processing capabilities make it an excellent choice for field service technicians. Whether performing equipment diagnostics, conducting repairs, or accessing technical documentation, technicians can use the tablet to handle their tasks efficiently.
Field Inspectors: The Durabook R8’s durability, long battery life, and sunlight-readable display make it ideal for inspectors who need to conduct inspections in various outdoor environments. The tablet’s robust construction can withstand drops, shocks, and extreme temperatures, while the long battery life ensures uninterrupted usage during extended inspection periods.
Utilities and Infrastructure Maintenance: Field professionals in utilities and infrastructure maintenance, such as electrical, water, or telecommunications services, can benefit from the Durabook R8’s ruggedness and connectivity options. The tablet’s optional GPS and 4G LTE capabilities allow for efficient asset tracking, while its ability to withstand dust, water, and temperature extremes makes it suitable for demanding field conditions.
Field Surveyors and GIS Professionals: The Durabook R8’s ruggedness and GPS functionality make it an excellent choice for field surveyors and Geographic Information System (GIS) professionals. Again, the tablet’s durability and ability to withstand various environmental conditions ensure reliable performance during surveying and data collection tasks. At the same time, GPS capabilities aid in accurate location mapping and data integration.
Emergency Services and Public Safety: Again, the R8’s rugged design, long battery life, and optional connectivity features make it well-suited for emergency services and public safety personnel. The tablet’s ability to withstand drops, shocks, and extreme temperatures and its optional 4G LTE connectivity enable efficient communication, data access, and incident management in demanding and critical situations.
The Durabook R8 rugged tablet is a powerful and reliable tool designed to empower field service professionals in various industries. With its robust construction, powerful processing capabilities, versatile connectivity options, and long battery life, the Durabook R8 delivers exceptional performance in demanding field environments.
Built to withstand drops, shocks, vibrations, and extreme temperatures, the Durabook R8 holds MIL-STD-810H and MIL-STD-461G certifications, ensuring its durability and reliability. This ruggedness is coupled with powerful Intel® Core™ processors, providing the processing power needed to handle complex tasks, multitasking, and resource-intensive applications.
Connectivity is essential in the field, and the Durabook R8 excels in this aspect. With Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth® V5.3, optional GPS, and 4G LTE, and support for RF antenna pass-through, professionals can enjoy fast, reliable wireless communication, seamless device connectivity, accurate positioning, and uninterrupted internet access. These features facilitate real-time data exchange, collaboration, and remote access to critical resources.
The Durabook R8’s extended battery life ensures uninterrupted operation throughout the workday. With options for long-life batteries and the convenience of a swappable battery, professionals can rely on the tablet for prolonged usage without the need for frequent recharging or external power sources.
Field service professionals in various roles benefit from the Durabook R8’s specialized features. The sunlight-readable display ensures optimal visibility even in bright outdoor conditions, while optional barcode readers enhance data capture efficiency. The tablet’s durability, portability, and ergonomic design provide a seamless and productive field experience.
This is all underpinned by very clever propriety engineering and design elements such as the DynaVue display and the Coolfinity fanless design – which are foundational elements in allowing Durabook to produce a device that doesn’t need to compromise on rugged credentials, performance or customisation option. All of which are critical for field service deployment.
In conclusion, the Durabook R8 rugged tablet is a comprehensive solution that empowers field service professionals to excel. Its ruggedness, powerful processing, versatile connectivity, extended battery life, and specialized features make it an ideal choice for field technicians, inspectors, utilities and infrastructure maintenance personnel, field sales representatives, field surveyors, emergency services, and public safety personnel.
With the Durabook R8, we can empower our field service workers to confidently tackle their tasks in challenging environments, ensuring optimal productivity, efficiency, and reliability. It is a valuable tool that enables seamless collaboration, data access, and communication, ultimately driving field service excellence.
- Find the manufacturers information on this rugged tablet here
- Read more about Durabook’s Coolfinity fanless technology here
- Watch video: What do the technical specs in a rugged device mean here
- Watch video: The questions you should be asking of a rugged manufacturer here
- Watch video: Why Total Cost of Ownership is about far more than just the device here