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Dell Latitude 12 Rugged Tablet Review

Nino Ricchizzi, Tanja Hinum, 11/09/2015

Tough. Rugged devices sometimes have to operate under the most adverse conditions. Dell's Latitude 12 Rugged tablet presents itself as a robust workhorse with stamina.

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German-English-Translator - Details here

For the original German review, see here.

The resistant materials and various security features characterize the models in Dell's rugged line. Until now, only laptops were found in the portfolio of this series. We had the pleasure of testing the Latitude 14 Rugged and Latitude 12 Rugged extensively. Now a tablet is to also share the success. Its application field is simply endless. For example, Dell's Latitude 12 Rugged tablet can be used as a mobile construction-site device or as an input device embedded in the company. The devices are within a high price range of over 2000 Euros (~$2155). All models are equipped with an Intel Core M processor, but in different versions. Our review sample is the stronger configuration for approximately 2200 Euros (~$2370). It also includes an 8 GB working memory and 128 GB SSD. Direct rivals come from Panasonic's Toughpad series. We have already tested Panasonic's, 7-inch model, which is also available in a 13-inch size.

Dell Latitude 12 Rugged Tablet (Latitude 12 Rugged Series)
Processor
Graphics adapter
Intel HD Graphics 5300, Core: 900 MHz, Memory: 800 MHz, 10.18.15.4248
Memory
8192 MB 
, LPDDR3 memory, 1600 MHz
Display
11.6 inch 16:9, 1366 x 768 pixel, capacitive, multi-touchscreen, Sharp SHP1417 LQ116K1, TN, glossy: no
Mainboard
Intel Broadwell-U PCH-LP (Premium)
Storage
Liteon L8H-128V2G M.2 2280, 128 GB 
, M.2 128 GB, 88 GB free
Soundcard
Intel Broadwell PCH-LP - High Definition Audio Controller
Connections
1 USB 3.0 / 3.1 Gen1, 1 HDMI, 1 Kensington Lock, 1 Serial Port, 1 Docking Station Port, Audio Connections: combo audio, Card Reader: micro-SD, 1 SmartCard, 1 Fingerprint Reader, Sensors: contactless Smart Card reader, brightness sensor
Networking
Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 7265 (a/b/g/h/n/ac), Bluetooth 4.0, Generic Mobile Broadband adapter (Dell Wireless 5809e Gobi 4G LTE)
Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 24 x 312 x 203 ( = 0.94 x 12.28 x 7.99 in)
Battery
56 Wh Lithium-Ion, 2x 26 Wh, removable battery, 2 cells
Operating System
Microsoft Windows 8.1 Pro 64 Bit
Camera
Webcam: 1080p webcam, 720p rear-facing camera
Additional features
Speakers: stereo, Keyboard Light: yes, 36 Months Warranty
Weight
1.784 kg ( = 62.93 oz / 3.93 pounds), Power Supply: 280 g ( = 9.88 oz / 0.62 pounds)
Price
2212 Euro
Note: The manufacturer may use components from different suppliers including display panels, drives or memory sticks with similar specifications.

 

Case & Connectivity

Multiple screws keep the Rugged tablet in one piece
Multiple screws keep the Rugged tablet in one piece

Our first contact with the Rugged series revealed a very well-conceived design strategy. Many edges and irregularities are discovered in the haptics. The matte surface structure is very slip-proof. Rubber protectors surrounding the casing protect the device against sudden impacts. As with other laptop series, Dell's new tablet also meets the ML-STD-810 and IP-810G military standards. They include a range of tests that analyze the drop, humidity and temperature resistance. Furthermore, the HZO Protection protects the sensitive hardware against water damage. The manufacturer guarantees problem-free operation in rain. Consequently the tablet weighs a heavy 1.8 kg (~4 lb).

The hot swap batteries are an interesting feature of the casing. They can be easily swapped during use. A button on the batteries' rear shows the current capacity via multiple LEDs. All interfaces are hidden behind protective flaps. The cameras also feature a privacy shutter. In addition to the standard configuration of interfaces, a SmartCard, NFC and a fingerprint reader are installed. A serial port is also included. The option of expanding the interfaces via a pogo-pin docking port is also interesting. However, we have to mention that connecting a keyboard to the docking port would also be easily possible. We did not discover more details. Only a few photos are found on the product webpage. Intel's Dual Band Wireless-AC 7265 module takes care of wireless communication, and a SIM card can be inserted in the tablet for mobile use.

The casing has to be opened completely for special maintenance work.

Lower edge: Docking port
Lower edge: Docking port
Upper edge: Stylus, webcam button
Upper edge: Stylus, webcam button
Right: Power socket, 1x USB 3.0, 1 x serial micro-port, power button
Right: Power socket, 1x USB 3.0, 1 x serial micro-port, power button
Left: Combo audio, micro-SD reader, HDMI out, Kensington Lock
Left: Combo audio, micro-SD reader, HDMI out, Kensington Lock

Input Devices

The multi-touch screen functioned impeccably in our tests, and it was even possible to use with gloves. The input identified gestures and multiple fingers without fail. Drag and drop was smooth. In addition to direct finger inputting, an integrated stylus can also be used. Stylus inputting also functioned impeccably. The only shortcoming we noticed was that the capacitive touchscreen did not function when using the stylus while the palms rested on it.

Dell's Rugged tablet has some hotkeys in addition to touch inputting. The keys are stiff, but big enough to use even when wearing gloves.

A dedicated keyboard is in the works
A dedicated keyboard is in the works

Display

Perfect sight in the shade outdoors.
Perfect sight in the shade outdoors.

Dell has installed a screen with a resolution of 1366x768 pixels. The matte panel from Sharp has an average brightness of 613 cd/m². This high brightness combined with the matte surface allows use even in the areas of direct light sources. The maximum brightness of just 404 cd/m² in battery mode is extremely disappointing. Unfortunately, the manufacturer uses a TN screen and not one based on viewing angle IPS technology. The contrast of 1345:1 is extremely good. Despite the extremely high brightness, color gradients are discernible and do not blur. Subjectively, black tones do not look really rich. The black level analysis confirms this with 0.47 cd/m².

626
cd/m²
651
cd/m²
613
cd/m²
606
cd/m²
632
cd/m²
604
cd/m²
597
cd/m²
603
cd/m²
588
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
X-Rite i1Pro 2
Maximum: 651 cd/m² Average: 613.3 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 90 %
Center on Battery: 404 cd/m²
Contrast: 1345:1 (Black: 0.47 cd/m²)
ΔE Color 11.22 | 0.4-29.43 Ø6.2
ΔE Greyscale 12.19 | 0.64-98 Ø6.4
54% sRGB (Argyll 3D) 35% AdobeRGB 1998 (Argyll 3D)
Gamma: 3.4
Dell Latitude 12 Rugged Tablet
HD Graphics 5300, 5Y71, Liteon L8H-128V2G M.2 2280
Dell Latitude 12 Rugged Extreme
HD Graphics 4400, 4300U, Liteonit LMT-256M6M
Dell Latitude 14 Rugged - 5404
HD Graphics 4400, 4310U, Seagate Momentus Thin ST500LT012-1DG142
Panasonic ToughPad FZ-M1
HD Graphics 4200, 4302Y, Samsung MZNTE128HMGR-000SO
Screen
-4%
-57%
-1%
Brightness middle
632
504
-20%
751
19%
561
-11%
Brightness
613
486
-21%
700
14%
528
-14%
Brightness Distribution
90
91
1%
84
-7%
86
-4%
Black Level *
0.47
2.2
-368%
0.77
-64%
Contrast
1345
341
-75%
729
-46%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 *
11.22
10.31
8%
13.47
-20%
5.55
51%
Greyscale DeltaE2000 *
12.19
10.82
11%
14.48
-19%
7.04
42%
Gamma
3.4 65%
4.16 53%
2.86 77%
2.46 89%
CCT
1256 518%
10248 63%
15544 42%
6323 103%
Color Space (Percent of AdobeRGB 1998)
35
34
-3%
41
17%
Color Space (Percent of sRGB)
54
64
19%

* ... smaller is better

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Since colors and grayscale levels are rather secondary in a rugged tablet, it is not surprising that the rates are not ideal. In addition to the very visible bluish tint, the shifts from the sRGB reference in colors and grayscale levels have an average DeltaE of over 11.

As previously noted, a reduction in brightness will have to be reckoned with in mobile use. However, outdoor use is possible almost without problems. Only direct sunlight should be avoided.

The TN panel involves making some compromises in terms of viewing angle stability. Brightness and colors are clearly distorted when tilting the tablet back and forth.

CalMAN Grayscale
CalMAN Grayscale
CalMAN ColorChecker
CalMAN ColorChecker
CalMAN Saturation Sweeps
CalMAN Saturation Sweeps
AdobeRGB color space coverage
AdobeRGB color space coverage
sRGB color space coverage
sRGB color space coverage

Performance

LatencyMon
LatencyMon

Computers have to be fast, particularly in daily business use. Dell also follows this objective with its Rugged tablet. The manufacturer offers an Intel Core M-5Y10c or Intel Core M-5Y71. The cheaper model is based on the first processor, 4 GB of working memory and does not have a GPS module. The second CPU is found in our test model, which is 160 Euros (~$172) more expensive. The surcharge also includes an 8 GB working memory in dual-channel mode and a GPS module. Both configurations are equipped with a 128 GB solid-state drive. Overall,this configuration makes our review sample primarily suitable for use with office applications.

Processor

Our version of the Rugged tablet incorporates Intel's Core M-5Y71. It clocks at 1200 to 2900 MHz, has two cores and four possible threads. The processor comes from the Broadwell architecture. Intel specifies a maximum power dissipation (TDP) of 4.5 watts. We used Cinebench R15 to find out how fast the CPU operated under the given cooling management. The review sample scores noticeably worse than other devices based on the same processor in the multi-core test. A look at the clock frequencies reveals the problem: The processor's clock drops to 1600 MHz right at the beginning, and decreases to 1300 MHz in the course of the test.

The results do not change in battery mode, and the tablet achieves the same performance in both AC and battery mode.

Further benchmarks and comparisons with other devices and processors can be found in our dedicated article regarding mobile processors.

Cinebench R15
CPU Single 64Bit (sort by value)
Dell Latitude 12 Rugged Tablet
HD Graphics 5300, 5Y71, Liteon L8H-128V2G M.2 2280
62 Points ∼28%
Toshiba Portege Z20t-B-10C
HD Graphics 5300, 5Y71, Toshiba HG6 THNSNJ256GVNU
97 Points ∼44% +56%
Asus Transformer Book T300 Chi
HD Graphics 5300, 5Y71, SanDisk SSD i110 128GB
108 Points ∼50% +74%
Lenovo ThinkPad Helix 2
HD Graphics 5300, 5Y71, Toshiba THNSFJ256GDNU 256 GB
95 Points ∼44% +53%
CPU Multi 64Bit (sort by value)
Dell Latitude 12 Rugged Tablet
HD Graphics 5300, 5Y71, Liteon L8H-128V2G M.2 2280
124 Points ∼3%
Toshiba Portege Z20t-B-10C
HD Graphics 5300, 5Y71, Toshiba HG6 THNSNJ256GVNU
190 Points ∼4% +53%
Asus Transformer Book T300 Chi
HD Graphics 5300, 5Y71, SanDisk SSD i110 128GB
209 Points ∼5% +69%
Lenovo ThinkPad Helix 2
HD Graphics 5300, 5Y71, Toshiba THNSFJ256GDNU 256 GB
184 Points ∼4% +48%
Cinebench R11.5
CPU Single 64Bit (sort by value)
Dell Latitude 12 Rugged Tablet
HD Graphics 5300, 5Y71, Liteon L8H-128V2G M.2 2280
0.66 Points ∼27%
Toshiba Portege Z20t-B-10C
HD Graphics 5300, 5Y71, Toshiba HG6 THNSNJ256GVNU
1.15 Points ∼47% +74%
Asus Transformer Book T300 Chi
HD Graphics 5300, 5Y71, SanDisk SSD i110 128GB
1.35 Points ∼55% +105%
Lenovo ThinkPad Helix 2
HD Graphics 5300, 5Y71, Toshiba THNSFJ256GDNU 256 GB
1.13 Points ∼46% +71%
CPU Multi 64Bit (sort by value)
Dell Latitude 12 Rugged Tablet
HD Graphics 5300, 5Y71, Liteon L8H-128V2G M.2 2280
1.57 Points ∼6%
Toshiba Portege Z20t-B-10C
HD Graphics 5300, 5Y71, Toshiba HG6 THNSNJ256GVNU
2.14 Points ∼8% +36%
Asus Transformer Book T300 Chi
HD Graphics 5300, 5Y71, SanDisk SSD i110 128GB
2.64 Points ∼10% +68%
Lenovo ThinkPad Helix 2
HD Graphics 5300, 5Y71, Toshiba THNSFJ256GDNU 256 GB
2.04 Points ∼8% +30%
Cinebench R10 Shading 64Bit
3245 Points
Cinebench R10 Rendering Multiple CPUs 64Bit
6212 Points
Cinebench R10 Rendering Single CPUs 64Bit
3117 Points
Cinebench R10 Shading 32Bit
3123
Cinebench R10 Rendering Multiple CPUs 32Bit
4909
Cinebench R10 Rendering Single 32Bit
2341
Cinebench R11.5 OpenGL 64Bit
11.6 fps
Cinebench R11.5 CPU Multi 64Bit
1.57 Points
Cinebench R11.5 CPU Single 64Bit
0.66 Points
Cinebench R15 Ref. Match 64Bit
98 %
Cinebench R15 OpenGL 64Bit
16.04 fps
Cinebench R15 CPU Multi 64Bit
124 Points
Cinebench R15 CPU Single 64Bit
62 Points
Help

System Performance

The review sample performed all operations and processes quickly. It was fun to work with the robust tablet. The positive score of PCMark 7 confirms this rather subjective impression. Nevertheless, the review sample cannot compete with rivals based on a similar configuration. All listed comparison models also feature an SSD storage and scored better in the processor test.

PCMark 7 - Score (sort by value)
Dell Latitude 12 Rugged Tablet
HD Graphics 5300, 5Y71, Liteon L8H-128V2G M.2 2280
3660 Points ∼43%
Dell Latitude 14 Rugged - 5404
HD Graphics 4400, 4310U, Seagate Momentus Thin ST500LT012-1DG142
2629 Points ∼31% -28%
Dell Latitude 14 7414 Rugged Extreme
HD Graphics 4400, 4300U, Liteon IT LCS-256L9S-11
4472 Points ∼52% +22%
Toshiba Portege Z20t-B-10C
HD Graphics 5300, 5Y71, Toshiba HG6 THNSNJ256GVNU
4421 Points ∼51% +21%
Asus Transformer Book T300 Chi
HD Graphics 5300, 5Y71, SanDisk SSD i110 128GB
4386 Points ∼51% +20%
Lenovo ThinkPad Helix 2
HD Graphics 5300, 5Y71, Toshiba THNSFJ256GDNU 256 GB
4602 Points ∼54% +26%
PCMark 7 Score
3660 points
Help

Storage Device

Time is money, and this motto applies when choosing the storage device. Our model is equipped with the base configuration of a 128 GB SSD. The storage device in M.2 format allows read rates of up to 534.4 MB/s. Unfortunately, the benchmarks show weaknesses in the write rates with 138.8 MB/s. The manufacturer also offers other storage device options on its page, such as a self-encrypting 256 GB SSD. The highest capacity hard drive offered is a 512 GB SSD.

Liteon L8H-128V2G M.2 2280
Sequential Read: 534.4 MB/s
Sequential Write: 138.8 MB/s
512K Read: 365.7 MB/s
512K Write: 134.8 MB/s
4K Read: 28.47 MB/s
4K Write: 67.28 MB/s
4K QD32 Read: 242 MB/s
4K QD32 Write: 130.1 MB/s

Graphics Card

A CPU-integrated Intel HD Graphics 5300 graphics unit is installed. The iGPU has a core clock of 800 to 900 MHz. We use 3DMark 11 to compare the performance with devices based on a similar graphics card. Our review sample achieved 599 points. As mentioned in the processor benchmarks, other devices with the same graphics card can accomplish higher scores.

Further comparisons can be found in our benchmark chart of mobile graphics cards.

3DMark 11 - 1280x720 Performance (sort by value)
Dell Latitude 12 Rugged Tablet
HD Graphics 5300, 5Y71, Liteon L8H-128V2G M.2 2280
599 Points ∼2%
Dell Latitude 13 7350
HD Graphics 5300, 5Y10, Toshiba HG6 THNSNJ256G8NU
625 Points ∼2% +4%
Toshiba Portege Z20t-B-10C
HD Graphics 5300, 5Y71, Toshiba HG6 THNSNJ256GVNU
775 Points ∼2% +29%
Asus Transformer Book T300 Chi
HD Graphics 5300, 5Y71, SanDisk SSD i110 128GB
973 Points ∼3% +62%
Lenovo ThinkPad Helix 2
HD Graphics 5300, 5Y71, Toshiba THNSFJ256GDNU 256 GB
753 Points ∼2% +26%
HP Envy X2-j001ng
HD Graphics 5300, 5Y70, Samsung SSD PM851 256 GB MZ7TE256HMHP
731 Points ∼2% +22%
Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro
HD Graphics 5300, 5Y70, Samsung SSD PM851 256 GB MZNTE256HMHP
756 Points ∼2% +26%
Dell Venue 11 Pro 7140
HD Graphics 5300, 5Y10a, Sandisk X110 M.2 SD6SP1M-128G
883 Points ∼3% +47%
HP EliteBook Folio 1020 G1
HD Graphics 5300, 5Y51, Samsung PM851 Series MZMTE256HMHP
615 Points ∼2% +3%
3DMark 11 Performance
599 points
3DMark Ice Storm Standard Score
24087 points
3DMark Cloud Gate Standard Score
2475 points
3DMark Fire Strike Score
342 points
Help

Emissions

System Noise

The review sample is cooled passively in idle mode. Since the manufacturer relies on a noiseless SSD, the device is absolutely silent. Only under load can we hear an active fan. However, the produced noise level is not distracting and reaches a maximum of almost 40 dB(A).

Noise Level

Idle
31 / 31 / 31 dB(A)
DVD
0 / dB(A)
Load
39.6 / 39.9 dB(A)
  red to green bar
 
 
30 dB
silent
40 dB(A)
audible
50 dB(A)
loud
 
min: dark, med: mid, max: light   Voltcraft sl-320 (15 cm distance)

Temperature

Stress test
Stress test

Dell states possible use in ambient temperatures ranging from -29 °C to +63 °C (~-20 °F to ~+145 °F) for our review sample. Dell's Latitude Rugged tablet was only faced with an ambient temperature of approximately 24 °C (~75 °F) in our scenario. Only one hot spot reached 41.4 °C (~107 °F) even under maximum load. Apart from this warmest spot, the rest of the tablet remained well below 40 °C (~104 °F).

A look inside our review sample shows how this low temperature development affects the clock rates. We used the tools Prime95 and FurMark to provoke this stress situation.

The CPU clocked consistently at 500 MHz after over one hour. The core temperature never exceeded 55 °C (~131 °F). Consequently, the device calculates far below its base rate. This also explains the benchmark scores. The processor cannot develop its full potential since it clocks down very early.

Max. Load
 34.1 °C
93 F
35.3 °C
96 F
34.1 °C
93 F
 
 34 °C
93 F
35.7 °C
96 F
35.2 °C
95 F
 
 34.9 °C
95 F
37.6 °C
100 F
38.4 °C
101 F
 
Maximum: 38.4 °C = 101 F
Average: 35.5 °C = 96 F
36.4 °C
98 F
38.4 °C
101 F
38.7 °C
102 F
35.4 °C
96 F
41.4 °C
107 F
35.5 °C
96 F
33.5 °C
92 F
32.8 °C
91 F
31.7 °C
89 F
Maximum: 41.4 °C = 107 F
Average: 36 °C = 97 F
Power Supply (max.)  39.4 °C = 103 F | Room Temperature 23.9 °C = 75 F | Voltcraft IR-360
(±) The average temperature for the upper side under maximal load is 35.5 °C / 96 F, compared to the average of 30.7 °C / 87 F for the devices in the class Tablet.
(+) The maximum temperature on the upper side is 38.4 °C / 101 F, compared to the average of 34.8 °C / 95 F, ranging from 22.3 to 51.8 °C for the class Tablet.
(±) The bottom heats up to a maximum of 41.4 °C / 107 F, compared to the average of 34.3 °C / 94 F
(+) In idle usage, the average temperature for the upper side is 29.9 °C / 86 F, compared to the device average of 30.7 °C / 87 F.

Speakers

The integrated speakers' good volume is compelling. System sounds remain audible even in an industrial environment. Presence and bass lack acoustically. The audio output is definitely sufficient for Skype calls or occasional videos.

Energy Management

Power Consumption

The idle power consumption of Dell's tablet is relatively low. Nevertheless, the review sample sometimes demanded up to 9.7 watts in maximum brightness. The device consumed 16.3 watts under medium load. The Latitude required slightly less in our stress test scenario with 15.9 watts. This is simply because the CPU reduces its clock frequency.

Power Consumption
Off / Standbydarklight 0 / 0.1 Watt
Idledarkmidlight 3.8 / 9.3 / 9.7 Watt
Load midlight 16.3 / 15.9 Watt
 color bar
Key: min: dark, med: mid, max: light        Voltcraft VC 940

Battery Runtime

As mentioned in the introduction, Dell has equipped its Rugged tablet with two separate 26 Wh batteries, making hot swap possible. We tested the runtimes of the 2 cell batteries in a real world scenario, namely Internet browsing using a brightness of 150 cd/m².

The review sample shut down after almost eight hours. This means that it could get tight in a workday without external power, especially when the device is used excessively in maximum screen brightness. However, it is possible to buy additional batteries to extend the runtime.

Battery Runtime
NBC WiFi Websurfing Battery Test 1.3
7h 51min

Pros

+ rugged design
+ bright screen
+ good battery life
+ interface diversity
+ good system performance
+ 3-year warranty

Cons

- viewing angle dependent TN screen
- low resolution
- CPU lags behind its potential

Verdict

In review: Dell Latitude 12 Rugged Tab. Test model courtesy of Dell Germany
In review: Dell Latitude 12 Rugged Tab. Test model courtesy of Dell Germany

In a nutshell: Dell continues its Rugged lineup consistently. The manufacturer wraps an 11.6-inch tablet in a robust casing with diverse security measures. The build quality is almost impeccable. Many interfaces are offered, and the connectivity can be expanded via a dock. Dell's Latitude Rugged tablet is equipped with an extremely bright screen that impresses even outdoors. Unfortunately, the screen's brightness is dimmed considerably in battery mode. Furthermore, the manufacturer uses a TN screen with a relatively low resolution and limited viewing angles.

An Intel Core M processor clocks inside, and it is responsible for a balanced system performance. The CPU's full potential cannot be completely retrieved, but does not disturb the subjectively fast work speed. The advantage is the always cool casing. Two hot swap batteries are available for mobile use. The review sample could last almost a whole workday with a practical runtime of nearly eight hours.

Dell Latitude 12 Rugged Tablet - 10/23/2015 v4(old)
Nino Ricchizzi

Chassis
93%
Keyboard
0 / 80 → 
Pointing Device
89%
Connectivity
62 / 65 → 95%
Weight
66 / 40-88 → 54%
Battery
91%
Display
81%
Games Performance
54 / 68 → 79%
Application Performance
69 / 76 → 91%
Temperature
88%
Noise
90%
Audio
60 / 91 → 66%
Camera
58 / 85 → 68%
Average
75%
80%
Tablet - Weighted Average

Pricecompare

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Archive of our own reviews > Dell Latitude 12 Rugged Tablet Review
Nino Ricchizzi, 2015-11- 9 (Update: 2018-05-15)