Zebra has been known for its range of high-quality rugged devices that cater to a variety of business and industrial needs. One of their most notable offerings is the rugged tablet lineup, which promises durability, performance, and the flexibility to handle even the harshest environments. In this review, we will explore seven of their most notable tablet models.
Zebra’s rugged tablet series is designed for those who work in challenging environments, from the bustling floors of a retail shop to the busy corridors of hospitals and even the rough terrains of fieldwork. These devices boast high durability, reliable wireless connectivity, and a host of features suited for specialized tasks.
7 Best Zebra Rugged Tablet Review
Let us dissect each model to understand their offerings:
1. ET40/ET45 Rugged Enterprise Tablets
- Operating System: The ET40 and ET45 run on Android OS, which provides a familiar and user-friendly experience for consumers.
- Screen Size: The ET40 has an 8-inch screen, while the ET45 has a 10-inch screen. Both screens are bright and clear, making them ideal for viewing content and interacting with apps.
- Connectivity: The ET40 and ET45 both offer Wi-Fi 6 connectivity, which provides fast and reliable speeds. The ET45 also offers 5G connectivity, which is ideal for businesses that need to access data and applications quickly and securely.
- Notable Features:
- Consumer-like design with rugged durability: The ET40 and ET45 are designed to be durable and withstand the rigors of everyday use. They feature a rugged exterior that is resistant to drops, bumps, and spills.
- Integrated enterprise-class scanning: The ET40 and ET45 come with a built-in barcode scanner, which makes them ideal for scanning products, receipts, and other barcoded items.
- POS and mobile payment options: The ET40 and ET45 can be used with a variety of POS and mobile payment solutions. This makes them ideal for businesses that need to accept payments from customers.
2. ET40-HC/ET45-HC Rugged Healthcare Tablets
- Operating System: The ET40-HC and ET45-HC run on Android OS, which provides a familiar and user-friendly experience.
- Special Material: The ET40-HC and ET45-HC are made with medical grade disinfectant-ready plastics, which make them easy to clean and disinfect.
- Connectivity: The ET40-HC has Wi-Fi 6 connectivity, while the ET45-HC has both Wi-Fi 6 and 5G connectivity. This allows the devices to connect to fast and reliable networks, even in crowded areas.
- Notable Features: The ET40-HC and ET45-HC have a number of notable features, including:
- An emergency alert button that can be used to call for help in an emergency.
- A built-in camera that can be used for video calls or to take pictures.
- A microphone and speaker for making calls and listening to audio.
- A long battery life, so the devices can be used for extended periods of time without having to be recharged.
The ET40-HC and ET45-HC are ideal for use in healthcare settings, as they are durable, easy to clean, and have a number of features that make them useful for patient care.
3. ET51/ET56 Rugged Enterprise Tablets
The ET51 and ET56 are rugged tablets that are designed for use in demanding environments. They are available with either a Windows or Android operating system, and have an 8-inch or 10-inch screen. The ET51 has WLAN connectivity, while the ET56 has WWAN connectivity. Both tablets have a daylight-readable screen, swappable batteries, and an optional expansion back accessory.
Here are some additional details about the tablets:
- The ET51 and ET56 are both MIL-STD-810G and IP65 certified, making them resistant to dust, water, and shock.
- The tablets have a long battery life, with the ET51 lasting up to 10 hours and the ET56 lasting up to 12 hours.
- The optional expansion back accessory for the ET51 and ET56 provides additional battery life, storage, and connectivity options.
The ET51 and ET56 are ideal for use in a variety of industries, including manufacturing, warehousing, and field service. They are also a good choice for businesses that need a rugged tablet for mobile workers.
4. ET51 with Integrated Scanner
- Operating System:
- Windows OS is a popular choice for POS systems due to its stability and security.
- Android OS is a newer option that is becoming increasingly popular due to its flexibility and customization.
- Screen Size:
- The 8-inch screen is a good size for most businesses, as it provides ample room for viewing information and interacting with the POS system.
- Larger screens are available for businesses that require more space, while smaller screens are available for businesses with limited counter space.
- Notable Features:
- Built-in scanner:
- A built-in scanner is a convenient feature for POS systems, as it allows customers to quickly and easily scan their items.
- Some POS systems also include a barcode reader, which can be used to scan barcodes on products.
- Hand strap and rugged frame: A hand strap and rugged frame can help to protect the POS system from damage, which is important for businesses that are located in high-traffic areas.
- Payment device option:
- Some POS systems include a payment device, such as a credit card reader, which allows customers to pay for their purchases with a credit or debit card.
- Businesses that do not want to include a payment device with their POS system can purchase one separately.
- Built-in scanner:
5. L10/L10ax XSlate Rugged Tablets
- Build: The L10 is built with a magnesium frame, which is stronger than steel but lighter than aluminum. This makes it the thinnest and lightest L10 yet.
- Design: The L10 has a sleek and modern design, with a narrow bezel and a backlit keyboard. It comes in two colors: silver and gray.
- Protection: The L10 has an IP65 rating, which means it is dustproof and water-resistant. It also has a 6-foot drop resistance, so you can be confident that it will survive a few bumps and bruises.
- Connectivity: The L10 comes with Wi-Fi 6E and 5G (L10ax Windows version) connectivity, so you can stay connected even in the most crowded areas.
- Notable Features: The L10 has a number of notable features, including:
- An attachable keyboard for a 2-in-1 laptop/tablet experience
- A large, high-resolution display
- A powerful processor
- A long battery life
- A variety of ports, including USB-C, HDMI, and a headphone jack
6. L10/L10ax XPad Rugged Tablets
- Design: The XSlate features a rigid handle that makes it easy to carry around, even when it’s loaded with heavy accessories. The handle is also designed to be comfortable to hold, even for extended periods of time.
- Notable Features:
- In-handle barcode scanner: The XSlate has a built-in barcode scanner in the handle, making it easy to scan barcodes without having to attach a separate scanner. This is a great feature for businesses that need to scan barcodes frequently, such as retail stores or warehouses.
- Ergonomic design: The XSlate is designed to be comfortable to use, even for extended periods of time. The keyboard is backlit and has a comfortable key travel, and the display is bright and easy to read.
- Attachable keyboard for 2-in-1 experience: The XSlate comes with an attachable keyboard that allows you to use it as a laptop. This is a great feature for users who need a portable computer that can also be used for more demanding tasks, such as word processing or spreadsheets.
7. ET80/ET85 Rugged 2-in-1 Windows Tablets
- Screen Size: The ET80 and ET85 feature a 12-inch display, the largest available on a Zebra rugged tablet. The display is also brighter and more color-accurate than previous models, making it ideal for viewing images and videos in bright sunlight.
- Design: The ET80 and ET85 are both thinner and lighter than major 2-in-1 competitors, making them more comfortable to carry and use for extended periods of time. The devices are also more durable, with a MIL-STD-810H rating and IP65 water and dust resistance.
- Connectivity: The ET80 and ET85 offer a variety of connectivity options, including Wi-Fi 6E, 5G, and Bluetooth. The ET85 also includes a built-in SIM card slot, making it easy to connect to a cellular network.
- Notable Features: The ET80 and ET85 both feature a number of notable features, including:
- A rugged keyboard that transforms the tablet into a laptop.
- A universal docking solution for vehicles and desktops.
- A long battery life of up to 10 hours.
- A powerful processor and graphics card for smooth performance.
- A variety of sensors, including a fingerprint scanner, a gyroscope, and an accelerometer.
The ET80 and ET85 are ideal for a variety of industries, including manufacturing, logistics, and healthcare. The devices are rugged enough to withstand the harshest environments and powerful enough to run demanding applications.
How to Choose the Right Zebra Rugged Tablet for Your Purpose
When it comes to rugged tablets, Zebra is a brand that stands out, offering a diverse portfolio of devices tailored to various business and industrial applications. However, determining which model is right for your specific purpose can be a challenge. To help you make an informed decision, we will break down the process step-by-step.
Define Your Environment and Use Case
- Understand the environment where the tablet will be used:
- Retail: A tablet that can handle POS and mobile payment options is ideal.
- Healthcare: A device that can be frequently disinfected and can withstand constant handling is crucial.
- Fieldwork: A tablet that can withstand elements like dust, water, and potential falls is necessary.
Consider the Operating System
Zebra tablets are available with either Android or Windows operating systems:
- Android: Ideal for apps and tasks commonly found in retail, transportation, and warehouse settings. It offers a user-friendly experience.
- Windows: Best for enterprise tasks that require specific software applications.
Look at Connectivity Options
Where will the tablet be used?
- Indoors: Devices with WLAN (such as the ET51) are ideal for use in indoor environments, such as warehouses or retail stores.
- Outdoors or On-the-Go: Choose devices with WWAN (such as the ET56) for field use where cellular connectivity is required.
Determine the Size and Weight Requirement
The screen size and weight of the tablet should be determined based on the user’s comfort and the nature of tasks:
- For more portability and light tasks, an 8-inch screen (such as ET40 or ET51) may suffice.
- For detailed tasks such as design or extensive data viewing, a larger screen such as the 12-inch on the ET80/ET85 might be more suitable.
Examine Additional Features
Consider the following additional features based on your industry or specific needs:
- Integrated scanning for inventory management or retail.
- Emergency alert button, which is especially beneficial in healthcare settings.
- Swappable batteries for industries where the tablet will be used for extended periods.
- Barcode scanner handle for quick data entry in warehouse settings.
Durability and Protection
Ensure the tablet has the ruggedness required for your environment:
- Drop resistance: Check the drop rating. For example, a 6-foot rating means the tablet can withstand a fall from that height.
- Water and dust resistance: IP ratings such as IP65 indicate protection against dust and water.
- Medical grade plastics: Crucial for healthcare settings for constant disinfecting.
Finally, it is vital to consider your budget. While getting a tablet that meets your needs is essential, it is also important to ensure that it aligns with your financial limits.
Based on the Zebra Rugged Tablet lineup described earlier, here are the best options for each sector.
The ET40/ET45 Rugged Enterprise Tablets are the best option for you. They run on Android OS, which is easy to use. They also have integrated enterprise-class scanning, making them perfect for inventory management and product scanning. Additionally, they have POS (point-of-sale) and mobile payment options, which make them ideal for retail settings.
The ET40-HC/ET45-HC Rugged Healthcare Tablets are designed specifically for use in healthcare environments. They are constructed with advanced medical-grade disinfectant-ready plastics, which enable them to withstand constant disinfecting, a critical need in healthcare settings. The tablets are also designed to resist drops, bangs, bumps, dust, and water, ensuring they can withstand the busy, on-the-go nature of hospital settings. Additionally, the programmable emergency alert button can be invaluable in critical situations.
The ET51/ET56 Rugged Enterprise Tablets and the L10/L10ax XSlate Rugged Tablets are both contenders for fieldwork. These tablets can operate with either Windows or Android OS and are designed to withstand harsh outdoor environments. The ET51/ET56 tablets offer WLAN or WWAN connectivity, making them suitable for remote sites. The L10/XSlate tablets boast an even more robust build with a stronger-than-steel magnesium frame. Their IP65 rating protects them against dust and water, and their six-foot drop resistance ensures durability in challenging terrains. The choice between these models may ultimately come down to specific feature needs and budgetary constraints.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Zebra Rugged Tablets
What kind of warranty or service support does Zebra offer for their rugged tablets?
While the specifics of warranties may vary based on the model and region of purchase, Zebra generally provides a standard warranty covering manufacturer defects. Many users also have the option to purchase Zebra OneCare, a service that provides enhanced coverage, including accidental damage. It is always recommended to consult with your local Zebra dealer or the official Zebra website for precise warranty and service details tailored to your region and model.
How do Zebra rugged tablets fare in extreme temperatures, especially in very cold or hot environments?
Zebra rugged tablets are built to operate in harsh conditions, including extreme temperatures. Many of the tablets in the rugged series can function in cold temperatures, as low as -20°C, and high temperatures up to 50°C. However, specific operating temperatures may vary by model, so it is important to check the specifications for the particular tablet you are interested in.
Can I customize or upgrade the hardware specifications on my Zebra rugged tablet, like RAM or storage?
Zebra offers a variety of configurations for some of its tablets, allowing users to choose from different RAM sizes or storage capacities at the point of purchase. However, post-purchase hardware upgrades (such as adding more RAM or increasing storage) may not be as straightforward due to the tablets’ rugged nature and sealed design. For specific upgrade needs or queries, contacting a Zebra representative or an authorized dealer would be the best course of action.
Are Zebra rugged tablets compatible with third-party peripherals and accessories?
It is true that many Zebra rugged tablets are designed to be compatible with a broad range of third-party peripherals, such as barcode scanners and external keyboards. However, for optimal performance and fit, especially when considering rugged aspects such as water and dust protection, it is often recommended to use Zebra-approved accessories. These accessories ensure maximum compatibility and maintain the tablet’s rugged integrity.
How often does Zebra update the operating systems on their tablets, especially the Android models?
Zebra is committed to providing its customers with up-to-date and secure devices. Zebra typically provides regular security patches, updates, and support for its Android-based tablets for multiple Android generations. This ensures that users have access to the latest features and security enhancements. However, the exact frequency and duration of updates may vary depending on the specific tablet model and its place in the product life cycle.