There are plenty of rugged devices which can survive in harsh conditions and vouch to bring intelligent functionalities at the same time. While we had our share of tough Android slates over the time, we hardly saw a product that stands above the crowd. Usually, manufacturers base their designs on a regular tablet with slim forms and powerful specifications to create a slate that can resist dust, water, mud and small impacts. Product after product, the pattern repeats itself and the market ends up saturated.
This is not the case with the Earl tablet. An ambitious project which is still in a funding phase at the moment, Earl is designed as the perfect companion for outdoor use. Thanks to a flexible E-Ink display of medium size, a hard-shell case and plenty of intelligent features hidden underneath, Earl does more than to simply survive against threatening factors like water and dust: it helps owners fulfill their quests.
Unlike conventional resistant slates, like the Getac Z710 or the Toughpad range from Panasonic, Earl uses a flexible E-Ink display. Measuring only 6-inch, the unit has a decent 1024 x 768 pixel resolution and aims to help those who like venturing outdoors reach their destination safely, and as fast as possible. The simple nature of the display can guarantee low-power consumptions meaning more hours of use and plenty of battery juice for other elements.
Speaking of battery, Earl comes with a 3000mAh charge that can last around 20 hours thanks to that low-light panel and to a power-optimized 1GHz Freescale i.MX6 DualLight processor. The slate also comes with Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth connectivity, NFC and a classic AM/FM Radio that should prove useful in 10-hour trails.
Software-wise, the rugged tablet is powered by Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and can process plenty of data thanks to a healthy amount of RAM – 1GB. When it comes to storage, you can rely on 16GB of built-in memory and microSD support.
But what really caught our attention was a specific set of outdoor features:
As far as Android goes, Earl is compatible with the wide majority of existing applications. It has support for various e-reader formats, such as EPUB, MOBI, PDF and can also extend to more functionality in the future, thanks to an open API project aimed to attract developers.
The complete package weighs only 11 ounces (or 311 grams) and measures just 0.6 inches in thickness – which is pretty nice for a tablet of this nature. As we said in the beginning, Earl is in funding phase right now – it has to gather around $250,000 before it will launch. Those who like the idea can pre-order one right now (through June 9) for $249, which is 30% of the retail price. The Earl is available in either black or white and will sell for around $350 once it’s launched.
In case you also want 24k resolution topo maps pre-loaded on the microSD card, you’ll have to pay an additional $50. Otherwise, the Earl will only ship with 100k resolution logo base maps for the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
The device is expected to launch in August 2013 in the U.S., pending FCC approval, and in late 2013 in European countries, Australia and New Zealand.