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Fully rugged Android-based 7-inch tablet simplifies one-handed operation for mobile field professionals
(by Conrad H. Blickenstorfer)

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On May 9, 2017, Getac introduced its ZX70 rugged Android tablet designed to perform in extreme work environments. Anticipated applications include public safety and military, transportation and logistics, professional services, and a variety of other field services that all benefit from a fully rugged device with a display viewable in low light as well as bright sun conditions.

The ZX70 is a redesigned, upgraded and enhanced modern version of Getac's original Z710 Android tablet that was first introduced in the US late 2012. Below you can see what the Getac ZX70 looks like:

How is the new ZX70 different from the original Z710? Our first impression is that the new tablet retained what was already right with the Z710 but redesigned, replaced and improved everything else. So while at first glance the ZX70 seems almost the same as the old Z710, it isn't. It's an almost entirely new product with better performance, longer battery life, a newer version of Android, more memory and storage, faster wired and wireless communication, higher resolution cameras and higher expansion potential.

In addition, the 1280 x 720 display of new ZX70 has 50% more pixels than the old one. That means 210 ppi (pixels per inch), about as sharp as Apple's desktop "retina" 4k/5k iMac displays. The display uses IPS (in-plane switching) technology, which means a rock-steady picture with virtually perfect viewing angles from all directions and no brightness, color or contrast fluctuations.

The display uses Getac's LumiBond 2.0 technology that bonds Corning Gorilla Glass, the touch sensor and the LCD for optimal durability and readability. Luminance is rated a full third higher than that of the old Z710, 580 vs 420 nits. That's a noticeable difference. The stylus has changed as well. While the old Z710 used a fairly thick stylus with a tip that felt like a little rubber boot, the new ZX70 has a narrower 3.5mm hard-tip stylus for significantly more precise operation. And touch sensitivity can be optimized for finger touch (even in the rain), stylus or gloves.

While the ZX70 looks much the same from the front, the back is completely new and reminiscent of the SnapBack system first seen in the Getac T800 G2. Also note the hooks designed for easy attach and release of hand straps and a kick stand. Below you can see what the new Getac ZX70 looks like from all sides.

The ZX70 has a foot print of 8.6 x 5.6 inches, is about 1.1 inches thick, and weighs 1.7 pounds. According to Getac, the unit's 32 watt-hour Li-Ion battery provides the best battery runtime performance in its class. Processing power comes from an Intel Atom X5-Z8350 running at 1.44GHz and able to reach burst speeds of 1.92GHz. This is a quad-core "system-on-chip" processor of Intel's 14nm "Cherry Trail" lineup that succeeds the popular 22nm "Bay Trail" roster. Integrated graphics are of the Intel Gen 8 variety, the same generation as Intel's high-end "Broadwell" chips. There's 32GB of onboard eMMC mass storage, and that can be augmented via microSD card. 2GB of LPDDR2 RAM is standard, expandable to 4GB.

As far as communications capabilities go, there's dual band 802.11a/b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth v4.0, optional 4G WWAN, as well as an optional LED or laser barcode reader, HF RFID/NFC, and discrete GPS. Note that none of these options are mutually exclusive with the exception of the UHF version of RFID that cannot be combined with 4G LTE or a barcode reader.

The tablet has dual cameras, the front one a webcam with full HD resolution, the rear one an autofocus unit with 8mp. There are USB host and client ports and dual external antenna ports. The ZX70 includes an e-compass as well as a G sensor.

On the ruggedness side, the ZX70 can handle 6-foot drops, has a very wide operating temperature range of -6° to +140° degrees Fahrenheit (-21°C to +60° Celsius), and carries IP67 sealing, where the "6" stands for protection against full immersion down to about three feet for 30 minutes. Getac claims an overall military grade MIL-STD-810G rating. For use in hazardous locations, an ATEX / IECEx certified version of the ZX70 is available.

The Getac ZX70 runs Android. At this point, Android dominates the consumer smartphone market, but is behind Apple in consumer tablets (but well ahead of Windows). The situation is different in industrial and vertical tablets where Windows is strong in large tablets, but Android is a frequent choice in smaller ones, and that's where the Getac ZX70 comes in.

Whereas the Z710 was based on Android 4.4, the new ZX70 runs Android 6.0. That's relevant as starting with version 5.x Android added much improved device protection, 64-bit processor support, improved Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity and, most importantly, significantly improved security — all features important to business, industrial and government customers.

In the press release announcing the ZX70 in the US, Scott Shainman, President, Getac, said, "The ZX70 was designed with field professionals in mind and is one of the most compact and mobile rugged tablets we've ever built. Its fully rugged design, one-handed operation, extended battery life and Android platform are exactly what's needed to work in the most extreme environments."

Specifications Getac ZX70
Added/updated Added 05/2017
Form-factor Rugged Android tablet
OS Android 5.1 (Android 6.0 as of May 2017)
Processor Quad-core Intel Atom X5-Z8350
CPU Speed/Turbo 1.44GHz/1.92GHz
Standard/Max RAM 2GB LPDDR3, expandable to 4GB
Disk/drive 32GB eMMC
Card slots 1 x MicroSD, 1 x MicroSIM card
Display type IPS TFT LCD with scratch- and damage-resistant Gorilla Glass ("LumiBond" 2 sunlight-readable technology that integrates Gorilla Glass, a capacitive touch sensor and an LCD panel), 580 nits luminance, 170 degree viewing angle
Display size/res 7.0-inch/1280 x 720 pixel (210 ppi)
Digitizer/pens Capacitive touch (usable with gloves and stylus)
Keyboard/scale Optional external
Sealing IP67
Shock MIL-STD-810G 26 drops from 6-foot
Operating temperature -6°F to +140°F (-21°C to +60°C)
Intrinsic safety Optional ATEX and IECE 2/22 certification
Housing Plastic with rubberized overmold, magnesium sub-frame, and sealed ports
Size (WxHxD) 8.6 x 5.6 x 1.1 inches
Weight 1.7 lbs. (0.78 kg) with battery
Power 3.8V 8,400mAh 31.9 watt-hour Li-Ion
Interface USB 2.0 host and client, microphone, 2 external antenna, dock
Cameras 1 front (FHD), 1 rear (8mp AF with LED flash)
Sensors e-compass, g-sensor
Communications 802.11a/b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0; optional 4G LTE WWAN, dedicated GPS; optional: HF RFID/NFC, 1D laser or 1D/2D CMOS imager; optional mag stripe and smart card reader
List price Starting at US$999
Warranty 3-year "bumper-to-bumper"
Press release Getac ZX70 press release
Spec sheet Getac ZX70 brochure
Website ZX70 on Getac web