Having met my fair share of couriers in my job, I would say the Panasonic Toughpad is the perfect companion for a delivery man.
It is ideal, too, for those who work in the construction, logistics and defence industries, or at sea.
Firstly, it is rugged and handy.
Panasonic says you can drop the Toughpad from a height of up to 3m, dunk it in 1.5m of water for 30 minutes - and it will still work. It is built to work in extreme weather conditions. An internal heater lets it operate even at minus 20 deg C.
Unsurprisingly, the tablet has a thick and sturdy plastic chassis - looks are secondary here. Its charging, audio and USB ports are sealed behind protective covers.
The Toughpad, at 450g, weighs more than most 10-inch tablets. Believe me, you (not the tablet) will get hurt if you drop it on your bare foot. Fortunately, the Toughpad comes with a hand strap to forestall such accidents.
It has dedicated buttons for the rear camera (seems slower than tapping the screen to take a picture) and an integrated barcode scanner (perfect for scanning packages).
The Toughpad runs Android 4.2, which has three software buttons for navigation (Back, Home and Recent). Below the screen are three physical buttons that duplicate the same functions.
These physical buttons have extra functionality: Hold down the one on the left to dim the screen. A Dashboard pops up if you hold down the one on the right, to offer such options as adjusting the brightness, volume or turning on the Wi-Fi.
An app lets you configure these buttons to perform other functions, such as taking a screenshot or launching a specific app.
Its 5-inch 1,280 x 720-pixel screen is smaller than the ones on phablets. Unlike those on many mobile devices, the Toughpad's screen is bright (500 nits) and visible even in direct sunlight, making it suitable for outdoor use. Viewing angles are surprisingly good.
The screen works even if you are wearing gloves, which is uncommon for mobile devices.
It even has a "rain-sensing mode" that can differentiate between legitimate taps and rain drops.
With 4G connectivity (dual micro SIMs), this tablet can stay connected to mobile networks even on the go. This is essential for those who work outdoors.
It does not have the most powerful hardware, but its Qualcomm chip runs the standard Android software smoothly enough. Pre-loaded apps include a VPN client, file manager and voice dialler.
With a massive 6,200mAh battery, this tablet lasted an incredible 18 hours in our video-loop battery test, with screen brightness and volume at their maximum. When it runs out of power, you can swop the removable battery with a fresh unit without switching off the tablet.
• Not for the general consumer, this rugged tablet is designed for specific industries.
PROCESSOR: Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 (1.7GHz)
DISPLAY: 5-inch, 1,280 x 720 pixels
CAMERA: 8 megapixels (rear), 1.3 megapixels (front)
STORAGE: 32GB, microSD expandability up to 64GB
FEATURES 1 2 3 4 5
DESIGN 1 2 3 4 5
PERFORMANCE 1 2 3 4 5
VALUE FOR MONEY 1 2 3 4 5
BATTERY LIFE 1 2 3 4 5
OVERALL 1 2 3 4 5
This article was first published on July 08, 2015.
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.