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Handheld Algiz 8X

Powerful, state-of-the-art, ultra-rugged 8-inch Windows tablet for work in demanding environments
(by Conrad H. Blickenstorfer)

On February 8, 2017, Swedish Handheld Group announced the Windows 10-based 8-inch Algiz 8X tablet computer, the latest in the company's lineup of rugged mobile computers for field workers in all sorts of demanding environments.

For a brief intro, the Handheld Group offers two primary product lines, those being the Nautiz branded rugged handhelds and the Algiz branded rugged tablets and notebooks. By now, most of the Nautiz handhelds are available with either Windows or Android. On the Algiz side, the Handheld Group also supports both Android (the Algiz RT7) and Windows, but with the new Algiz 8X, Windows is now up 3:1. The image below shows the company's older Windows-based Algiz 7 on the left, the recently updated Algiz 10X on the right, and the new Algiz 8X in the middle.

As usual, let's handle the basic questions first. With Windows and Android both very strong in the marketplace, why not even the lineup with two Android and two Windows tablets? Answer: because while Android totally dominates the (non iPhone) smartphone market, on the tablet side it's Windows that's coming on very strong. So it makes sense for Handheld to cover and bolster a strong 8-inch Windows tablet to cover the small tablet side currently held by the aging and smaller 7-inch Algiz 7. Windows 10 needs room and resolution, and so following up the recent total revamp of Handheld's impressive Algiz 10X with an equally impressive 8-inch contender for a hefty one-two punch makes total sense.

Making Windows 10 work on small tablets

Let's face it; Windows has struggled to work well on tablets. Two-plus decades as a mouse operating system are hard to overcome. But after a (less than) mediocre start with Windows 8 and 8.1, Microsoft tenaciously dug in with the much improved Windows 10 that no longer fights small screens, pens and touch every step along the way. Nicely optimized Desktop and Tablet modes are now just a finger tap apart. In desktop mode, especially, it's still good to have a bit of extra screen real estate to stretch, and a bit more touch precision than your average finger can provide.

It's still not easy to make it all work. Tablets, against early prognostics, have not replaced laptops and desktops, and it's mostly media pundits that somehow believe we're now living in a "post PC" world. But with Windows 10, tablets can now work like tablets out there in the field, and like PCs back in the office, in desktop mode with a mouse and plugged into a big high-res screen. There's a reason why Microsoft's own Surface tablets are doing unexpectedly well, why 2-in-1s (i.e. tablet with really good custom keyboards) are booming, and why Android's almost total, and kind of inexplicable, focus on phone-sized devices has given Microsoft a second chance.

How did Handheld run with all that?

With a product that is just right. One that hits the 2017 bullseye of a constantly moving target. 7-inch screen once meant small tablet, but now that just doesn't offer much more than a big smartphone.

8-inch screens, on the other hand, and especially those with the comfortable 16:10 aspect ratio, are real tablets. Small and handy, yes, but most definitely easier to work on than on any smartphone. And there must be decent sharpness. While some smartphones have gone crazy with insane resolutions, Handheld went for enough. And enough here is the same sharpness you get from one of Dell's terrific big 4k UltraSharp monitors.

But what about those big fingertips on small tablets? The Algiz 8X has, of course, capacitive multi-touch. Complete with a rain mode and a glove mode. But there's also an optional active stylus. That's a very good thing to have when in some legacy desktop app and away from a mouse.

Of course, having a stellar reputation for quality and service, and an attractive, cohesive product lineup and clear brand identity — both of which the Handheld Group has — doesn't hurt either. Nor does a particularly handsome implementation of Handheld's longstanding black and gray design language.

And what are the specs?

So what do customers get with the new Algiz 8X? It measures 8.8 x 5.7 inches. That's noticeably handier than the ubiquitous original iPad, even though there are six physical buttons in the margin. Two are programmable, and all certainly come in handy in the ice and rain and mud where capacitive touch buttons don't work so well. At 0.9 inches, the tough, sturdy Algiz 8X is, of course, considerably thicker than a hyper-slender consumer tablet. And at 2.2 pounds it weighs a lot more, too.

But the Algiz 8X is thicker and heavier than consumer tablet for a reason. It's much, much tougher for one thing. But it also comes with a number of real ports instead of a Jony Ive-esque absence of them. Two full-size USB 3.0 ports. Micro HDMI. A flex port that can be populated with RJ45 LAN or a serial port. There's a big, removable, hot-swappable 40 watt-hour battery. And optionally an extended one with 76 watt-hours. It's the real deal as far as real-world productivity goes.

Beefy hamsters under the hood

Anytime you deal with full Microsoft Windows, you need some brawn in the engine compartment. That can be an issue because advanced heavy-lifting Intel circuitry doesn't come cheap. And it usually meant a fan, lest one resorted to a lowly Atom chip. Fortunately, the performance gulf between Intel's megabuck high-end chips and more affordable alternatives has closed considerably. Ever since the emergence of Bay Trail, the problems of running full Windows on mobile hardware have become resolved.

And especially so when eschewing the bargain basement for some rather more powerful mid-range motivation. Handheld provides that in the form of a quad-core "Braswell" (the 14nm successor to Broadwell) Pentium N3710 chip capable of over 2.5GHz with the turbos spooled up. On the graphics side, Braswell includes Intel HD Graphics 405 with 16 EUs (execution units) of the same Intel Gen 8 technology that's used in the Broadwell 5th generation Core processors.

There are 4GB of DDR3L, 128GB of solid state memory, two cameras (2mp and 8mp AF), and speedy 802.11ac WiFi and Bluetooth 4.2 LE. For navigation, there's a stand-alone integrated u-blox NEO-M8M module that can track up to three of the four available GNSS systems concurrently Those being GPS (the US system), GLONASS (the Russian version of GPS), the European Galileo, and the Chinese BeiDou. The ability to use three of those systems means potentially triple the number of available satellites, making for quick starts, very good accuracy, and superior coverage.

Very rugged

As you'd expect, in terms of ruggedness the Algiz 8X can handle quite a bit of punishment and rough handling out there in the field. Working anywhere within -4 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit is no problem. There's IP65 sealing where the "6" means the computer is totally protected from dust, and the "5" that it is protected against low pressure jet of water from all directions. The Algiz 8X also passed the MIL-STD-810G test of 26 4-foot drops to concrete, as well as several other MIL-STD-810G and complementary tests.

Handheld Group's new Algiz 8X

Coming just a few months after the greatly upgraded 10-inch Algiz 10X, the new Algiz 8X provides the Handheld Group with a powerful 1-2 punch to compete in the compact rugged Windows tablet field. We haven't had hands-on yet, but it definitely seems the real deal.
Specifications Handheld Algiz 8X
Added Added 02/2017
Type Rugged Windows tablet
OS Microsoft Windows 10 Enterprise LTSB (64-bit)
Processor Quad-core Intel "Braswell" Pentium N3710
Processor TDP/SDP 6 watts/4 watts
Graphics Intel HD Graphics 405 (16 EUs)
CPU Speed 1.60GHz (2.56GHz turbo)
Standard/Max RAM 4GB DDR3L-1600
Disk/drive 128GB SSD
Card slots 1 x Micro SDXC, 1 x Micro SIM
Display type Sunlight-readable TFT LCD with chemically strengthened glass, 600+ nits
Display size/res 8.0" (1,280 x 800 pixel, 16:10 aspect ratio) 189 ppi
Digitizer/pens Capacitive multi-touch (incl. rain and glove modes), optional active capacitive pen
Keyboard/scale Menu, home, F1, F2
Housing Est: Plastic with protective rubber bumpers
Operating Temp -4° to 140° degrees Fahrenheit (-20° to 60° Celsius)
Sealing IP65, MIL-STD-810G, IEC 60529
Shock 26 4-feet drops to concrete per MIL-STD-810G Method 516.6, Procedure IV
Vibration MIL-STD-810G, Method 514.6 Procedures I & II
Altitude 15.000 ft at 73°F (4572 meters at 23°C) per MIL-STD-810G, Method 500.5, Procedure I
Size (WxHxD) 8.8 x 5.7 x 0.9 inches (225 x 147 x 24 mm)
Weight 2.18 pounds (990 grams)
Power Hot-swappable 7.6V 5,200mAh 39.5 watt-hour Li-Ion battery; optional extended 7.6V 10,500mAh 76.4 watt-hour Li-Ion
Cameras Front: 2-megapixel; rear: 8-megapixel AF + LED flash
Sensors Ambient light, est: 3-axis accelerometer, 3-axis gyro, eCompass
Scanning Optional 2D barcode reader
Interface 2 x USB 3.0, 1 x micro HDMI, 1 x 3.5mm audio in/out, power; optional: RJ45 LAN, COM
Wireless 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth v4.2 LE, integrated u-blox NEO-M8N GPS, 2G/3G/4G LTE (Sierra EM7305 or EM7355); optional barcode reader
List price Starting at US$1,699
Brochure Algiz 8X product brochure (PDF)
Web Algiz 8X product page
Contact Handheld Group AB
Kinnegatan 17A
531 33 Lidköping, Sweden
Tel: +46 (0) 510 54 71 70
Fax: +46 (0) 510 282 05
Web: www.handheldgroup.com
Email: info @ handheldgroup.com

HHCS Handheld USA Inc.
33870 SE Eastgate Circle
Corvallis, OR 97333, USA
Tel: (541) 752-0313
Fax: (541) 752-0338
Web: www.handheld-us.com
Email: info @ handheld-us.com