Best Business-Class Tablets for Front Office and Factory Floor

In this review, we looked at two types of business-class tablets, traditional tablets used by the sales force or other front-office workers, and ruggedized devices that can be used on the factory floor or other back-office environments.

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Business-class tablets

In this review, we looked at two types of business-class tablets, traditional tablets used by the sales force or other front-office workers, and ruggedized devices that can be used on the factory floor or other back-office environments. In the front-office category, we tested the Lenovo ThinkPad 10 and the E FUN Nextbook 10. In the back-office category, we looked at the Adlink IMT-1, Arbor Gladius Atom and Gammatach’s Durabook R11. Here are the individual reviews:

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LENOVO THINKPAD 10

TALE OF THE TABLET

SCREEN SIZE: 7 INCH

OS: WINDOWS 8.1

STORAGE: 64GB

BATTERY LIFE: 4 HOURS, 30 MINUTES

PRICE: STARTS AT $349, MANY ADD-ONS AVAILABLE

PERFORMANCE: AVERAGE

RUGGEDIZED: NO

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LENOVO THINKPAD 10

Lenovo’s ThinkPad 10 is a top shelf business-class tablet for the front office. This is a beauty queen with lots of functionality, including sharp screen, responsive touch screen, comparatively fast Windows 8.1 UI touch response, and slick looks. The ThinkPad also offers a long list of add-ons, allowing you to customize the device for your particular needs.

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NEXTBOOK 10

TALE OF THE TABLET:

SCREEN SIZE: 7 INCHES

OS: WINDOWS 8.1

STORAGE: 32GB

BATTERY LIFE: 3 HOURS, 3 MINUTES

PRICE: $199

PERFORMANCE: SLOW

RUGGEDIZED: NO

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NEXTBOOK 10

You might think something called E FUN isn’t a business-class device, but the Nextbook 10 comes with Windows 8.1 and a one-year subscription to Office 365, plus 1TB of cloud storage. It runs Windows apps easily, and comes with a pretty decent keyboard. On the other hand, battery life is relatively low, it doesn’t come with much onboard storage, there’s no Ethernet port and it came in fourth out of five players when it came to performance. Still, for $199, it offers a low-cost way to connect mobile workers.

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ADLINK IMT-1

TALE OF THE TABLET:

SCREEN SIZE: 10.1 INCHES

OS: ANDROID

STORAGE: 32GB

BATTERY LIFE: 6 HOURS

PRICE: $499

PERFORMANCE: SLOW

RUGGEDIZED: YES

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ADLINK IMT-1

The Adlink IMT-1 is an interesting device. It’s a ruggedized tablet suitable for use on the factory floor or at a construction site. It runs Android 4.2.2 rather than Windows. On the one hand, it offered the longest battery life at 6 hours; on the other hand it was the slowest device by far in our performance tests. We really liked the fact that the Adlink IMT-1 comes with a strap so that you can hold it securely in your hand, almost like a painter holding a palette.

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ARBOR GLADIUS

TALE OF THE TABLET:

SCREEN SIZE: 9.7 INCHES

OS: WINDOWS 8.1

STORAGE: 16MB

BATTERY LIFE: 5 HOURS, 45 MINUTES

PRICE: $529

PERFORMANCE: FAST

RUGGEDIZED: YES

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ARBOR GLADIUS

The Arbor Gladius showed promise, but we found it difficult to use. It’s an Intel Celeron CPU-powered tablet running Windows 8.1, but only the 32-bit version on a 64-bit capable platform. This 10-inch tablet has four programmable function keys located on its case, with function key-press LED indicators that are helpful.

The Arbor Gladius delivered the second best battery life in our testing, as well as the second fastest performance. However, it wasn’t all that easy to use.

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DURABOOK R11

TALE OF THE TABLET:

SCREEN SIZE: 11.6 INCHES

OS: WINDOWS 7

STORAGE: 32MB

BATTERY LIFE: 3 HOURS, 40 MINUTES

PRICE: $2,199

PERFORMANCE: FASTEST

RUGGEDIZED: YES

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DURABOOK R11

The Durabook R11 delivers the largest screen at 11.6 inxhwa as well as the best performance by far among the five devices tested. In fact, it’s faster than many of the standard notebooks we use in the lab, based on our rudimentary performance tests. It was the only device tested that had a removable battery, which is important in scenarios where the device is used by workers over multiple shifts. The R11 also has a 4G SIM slot, and an optional mag-stripe reader. The Durabook is also the only tablet we tested that supports Wi-Fi over 802.11 a/b/g/n/AC. However, it costs $2,199, which makes it far more expensive than the other tablets.