Ultra-Mobile PCs
Editor's Favorites

The market for a rugged PC is a very specialized one, but MobileDemand has found a niche there. The price for any of the ruggedized Tablet PCs doesn't put them at the top of most average consumers' wish list, but if you're in the market for a machine that can put up with almost all the abuse you can give it, be sure to check out the xTablet T8600.

The screen warranty alone tells the story of a company that isn't afraid to stand behind its product.  The 3 year warranty covers up to 2 screen replacements per year.  To me, since a screen is one of the more expensive parts on a Tablet, that warranty means that MobileDemand isn't afraid that the screen is going to require replacement.

I'd like to see the T8600 running Windows Vista, but for most companies, Windows XP Tablet PC Edition fits in nicely with the rest of their network.

There are several companies using this machine that you'll recognize - in fact, you might have seen them in action if you've been in long lines at Disney World recently.  These Tablets help move the lines along by scanning in tickets faster than putting them through the ticket machines. Anheuser Busch uses them for controlling inventory and deliveries of their products. FEMA also uses them.  To me, the most important use I found was that the City of New York uses them with GPS to pinpoint the location of their firefighters, critical if a firefighter finds himself in trouble.

The specifications are more than adequate for most companies and service organizations.  These Tablets can be ordered in many different configurations, including with a bar code scanner, a mag stripe reader, or both. 

An indoor/outdoor screen is a must if you'll be using the unit in either bright light or outdoors.  The screen clarity is excellent, whether using in a darker room or the brightest sun. The systems came with a screen protector, not because the screen needs much additional protection, but to keep someone from inadvertently using a ballpoint pen rather than a stylus.   The first photo shows the two units side by side.  The white background is a bit friendlier to sunlight, but both screens are fully visible. For more detail on a larger image, just click the thumbnails of the photos.


As you can see from the photo, this shot was taken under bright lights (that isn't the flash) to show the visibility in the brightest lights. The wide-viewing angle is exceptional as well.

The numeric pad makes inventory control a snap.  It's much easier than using an onscreen or attachable keypad.  Everything is right on the Tablet.

One other thing of note is the secure strap on the back of the machine.  This gives firm control in almost any position while holding the unit in one hand while writing, using the keypad or scanning bar codes.

Police and fire departments, ambulance companies and other medical organizations will appreciate the sturdiness of the xTablets as they meet or exceed all military requirements of MIL-STD-810F

Any company that deals with delivery, inventory or any other field use will appreciate the ease of use with this Tablet, while those who pay for them will reap the benefit of the lower cost of ownership over traditional consumer Tablet PCs. For example, a driver can have the unit in its mobile mount, grab it and use the barcode scanner to scan inventory, then return to his office, then move the Tablet to its dock or use wireless and download the information directly onto another networked computer.  No longer will there be a need to decipher a driver's handwriting, then enter all the information again.  It improves efficiency and saves time and money. Check out some of the mounting options here.

Here are some views of the connections on the sides of the units, as well as the bar code scanner and mag stripe reader.


Battery life is excellent. I've gotten well over 5 hours with everything enabled, so for those who don't need all-the-time connectivity, I wouldn't be surprised to see the battery last for an entire 8 hour shift.  The company claims 7 hours without any power control.

Sounds good so far.  But, as with anything, it's not perfect. The negative on the xTablet T8600 is the weight.  Although it's only 4.5 pounds with the extended battery, balancing it for any length of time with the hand strap made it feel a lot heavier.  Then again, to be fair, I'm not used to holding a Tablet on my hand, but usually carry it more on my arm.  There's a 2 point and a 4 point harness available, and I think either of these would help tremendously.

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Specifications of the xTablet T8600 are available either on our Comparison Charts page or at MobileDemand's Web site. 

In addition, accessories available include Vehicle Cradle, Desk Stand, Hand Strap, Carrying Case, Carrying Case with Keyboard, Two and Four Point Shoulder Straps, AC & Auto Adapters, 3M Vikuiti Brand Screen Protector.

Data capture -
Imager Depth of Field: 2 to 13 (5 cm 33 cm)
Symbologies: Common 2-D and linear codes

Laser Scanner Depth of Field: 1.5 to 30 (4 cm 90 cm)
Symbologies: Common linear codes

Mag Stripe Reader Dual & three track, bi-directional
Read standard cards: ISO/ANSI/CDL/AAMVA
USB keyboard emulation & HID capable

Dimensions 10.6 W x 7.2 H x 1.65 D (270 mm W x 183 mm H x 42 mm D)

Display 8.4 (213 mm) diagonal, 6.75 W x 5.0 H (171 mm W x 127 mm H)

Weight 4.60 lb. (2.08 kg) with high capacity battery

Sealing Dust: IP 54; Rain: MIL-STD 810F, 506.4 II 4 per hour, 40psi for 10 minutes on all axes

Drop / Shock Lightweight magnesium alloy for strength  MIL-STD 810F, 506.5 IV: 26 repeated drops to
plywood over concrete from 36 inches

Operating Temp -4 F to +122 F (-20 C to +50 C)

Storage Temp -22 F to +140 F (-30 C to +60 C)

Humidity 5% - 95% non-condensing

If you do a lot of work from within a vehicle, the mounting system made specifically for this Tablet is a huge help.  The fan-cooled mount will make writing and entering data much simpler when in your car or truck.

For more information, check MobileDemand's Web site at

Overall, this Tablet PC should meet the requirements of anyone needing a Tablet PC that can handle rough handling, hostile environments and heavy use.

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Last Updated: December 23, 2008

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