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Review: Xplore XSlate R12 Is A Rugged Tablet With A Flair For Design

The CRN Test Center finds a number of thoughtful features in the Windows 10 tablet.

At the CRN Test Center, we've found a lot to like about the rugged XSlate R12 tablet -- even apart from the fact that it can survive drops and some exposure to water.

The Windows 10 tablet, made by Austin, Texas-based Xplore, is no utilitarian machine. The tablet features an appealing octagonal design, a sharp and bright 12.5-inch FHD display, and lots of thoughtful touches.

For instance, the tablet comes with an excellent kickstand that magnetically attaches to the back of the tablet and folds up when not in use.

[Related: Review: Durabook R11 Rugged Tablet With Detachable Keyboard]

An included keyboard also magnetically attaches to the XSlate R12, and the three pieces — tablet, kickstand and keyboard — all fold up together for maximal portability and easy usage.

We also liked the keyboard itself, which connects to the tablet over Bluetooth and is thin and light, but not flimsy (though not quite as resilient as some other rugged tablet keyboards out there).

The R12 is fairly light for a rugged tablet at 2.9 pounds, and we found it reasonably comfortable to hold with one hand on the back of it, while the other hand uses the display.

Xplore wisely houses a digital pen in the side of the XSlate R12, which is attached by a cord to the side of the tablet so that it doesn’t go missing.

A high point of the tablet is the horsepower. A seventh-gen Intel Core i7 processor (Kaby Lake) and 8 GB of RAM enabled zippy performance in our tryout.

We weren't as impressed with the battery life, though. At 75 percent display brightness, the battery drained halfway during two hours of testing. The battery is sizable at 45WHr, but a high-brightness touch screen and powerful processor can place some major power demands.

The battery is swappable, however. So, users may want to have an extra on hand if they're going to be at a worksite or on the go for long stretches.

In terms of ruggedness features, the XSlate R12 includes a rubberized enclosure and Corning Gorilla Glass 4. The tablet has earned an IP54 rating, meaning it will still work after splashes — but may not withstand quite as intense an exposure to water as some other rugged tablets on the market.

The XSlate R12 is pricey at $3,399. But pairing ruggedness features with a tablet that's actually a pleasure to use is something of a rare feat — so the XSlate R12 may just be worth the investment for some.

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