Daniel Neilson reviews the sturdy RugGear RG900 tablet
Moses, I’d imagine, would have a hard time smashing this tablet on the mountain. RugGear specialise in super tough technical products, in particular phones, and for the first time a tablet, the RG900. It can also be used as a phone. They are aimed at anyone who works in the outdoors, from farmers to the military and, of course, recreation in the outdoors.
A phone on the mountains, most would agree, is essential for emergencies. But I’ve often found my iPhone’s battery failing at low temperatures (until PrimaLoft gave me a press pack in a little phone-sized sleeping bag!). RugGear’s products don’t have this problem, this tablet, for example, should be useable down to -20 (and up to +60 if your going hill walking in Ridhya).
And for those who know about these things, it’s IP67 certified (Ingress Protected totally against dust, and against water immersion to 1 metre for 30 minutes). This doesn’t test it against ‘fall-out-of-your-bag-and-on-to-a-rock-ness’ but I’ve kicked it about a bit and its casing is seriously well-protected. It’s also to ‘military specification’ that means it needs to withstand a two-metre drop, constant vibration and temperature fluctuations.
It measure 210mm by 140mm and is about 2cm thick. It weighs 650g, a little less than my second generation iPad. There’s also a strap on the back that is good for holding it securely.
It runs Android of course. And Android phone users will recognise the home and back button along the bottom, as well as a shortcut key. They are hard to see in the dark, but I soon got used to it. Other hardware features include on the bottom a headphones port that once open is open to the elements, and with it a micro USB connection. On the right handside you’ll find the on/off switch, a camera short cut key, and the volume buttons. Unlike the headphone port on the bottom and the T-Flash card and SIM ports on the top, the external module connection cap isn’t attached and could easily be lost – one of the only flaws.
There’s a 2MB camera on the front and an 8MB camera with flash on the back, a mic, speaker, and a dock for PAD connectors. The screen is 7” (17cm).
Inside, you’ll find it GPS and NFC enabled and currently runs Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean. Finally , the battery life is 450 hours on standby and 420 minutes talk time on 3G – in other words, very good indeed. It can be charged at the wall or through a USB which is more useful in the mountains. It’s also 3G enabled.
Tech reviews necessarily end up quite factual – they need to tick the boxes that meet your requirements, more than any apparel. Yet, what I’ve found with this device is it’s opened up more possibilities on the mountains – more mapping, books, books and books, for long backpacking trips and other uses for example in outdoor training, mountain rescue etc, are widespread.
It’s an impressive piece of kit that is not just a rugged tablet for the sake of it, but well considered and genuinely useful for the right person.
It is available from www.ruggear.co.uk