Small, handy and very rugged Android tablet for logistics, fleet management, field service applications and plenty more
(by Conrad H. Blickenstorfer)
Teguar is not necessarily a familiar name when contemplating the purchase of a rugged tablet. That may change as the Charlotte, North Carolina, based company is a hard-charging provider of highly customizable industrial and medical computers that’s rapidly moving up on the Inc. 5000 list.
Launched in 2010 by a Swiss native with years of experience in industrial computer systems, Teguar combines American adaptability and technological leadership with Swiss precision, quality, and attention to detail. In this review we’re examining their rugged and very versatile industrial 7-inch Android tablet that fits just about anywhere.
Why a 7-inch tablet when there are phones with screens nearly that large? Because phones aren’t rugged, have long, narrow screens, and don’t have a have a whole ecosystem of accessories so they can be integrated into workflows and worksites that need both mobility as well as complete reliability. The Teguar TRT-Q5393-07, on the other hand, is rugged and ready to go to work. The image below shows the tablet from the front and all four sides.
Why are we showing two different versions of the tablet? Because it’s not two different versions. It’s the same with and without its available protective caps.
Measuring 8.3 x 5.2 inches without the bumpers, the TRT-Q5393-07 is small enough to be mounted in all sorts of vehicles, or carried around all day. The tablet is 0.8 inches thick and weighs just over a pound.
What’s the TRT-Q5393-07 for? Teguar describes it as a light and handy tablet PC for industrial and rugged applications, one with easy readability in a vehicle, outdoors, or under bright overhead lights. We’d add that providing Android in a tough and durable little tablet makes a lot of business sense: According to Google, there are now over three billion active Android devices in the world, which means that almost everyone is familiar with the platform. That means instant familiarity and less need for training.
In handhelds and tablets, a good display is everything. And that especially goes for those that will be used under greatly varying conditions, ranging from office to anywhere out there in the field. The Teguar TRT-Q5393-07’s screen measures 7.0 inches diagonally and has 1024 x 600 pixel resolution. That makes for a 16:10 aspect ratio, which puts in between the iPad’s traditional and rather squarish 4:3 displays, and current smartphones that seem to get wider every year.
1024 x 600 pixel on a 7-inch screen makes for 170 pixels per inch. That’s less than most of today’s smartphones and consumer tablets. But it’s good enough for the jobs intended. While almost all consumer devices have “glossy” screens today, the TRT-Q5393-07’s is semi-matte thanks to its anti-glare coating. That cuts way down on those annoying reflections all glossy devices suffer from. The pictures below show the tablet outdoors viewed from various angles.
Like almost all modern mobile devices, the TRT-Q5393-07 uses capacitive multi-touch. It’s as smooth and responsive as users have come to expect. We’re not sure if it uses Corning’s Gorilla Glass or something similar (the company claims the display offers 7H scratch resistance on the Moh scale of mineral hardness).
Any device that’s being used outdoors must be bright enough to be used in daylight, and it must do so without burning through a battery charge too quickly. Brightness — luminance — is measured in nits. Laptops usually score around 250 nits, tablets 300 to 500, modern smartphones 400-550, and some rugged gear can go to 1000 and beyond. Teguar claims 600 nits for this tablet. In our luminance testing, it did better than that, scoring 700 nits, making it easily viewable and usable outdoors.
Equally important, especially in a tablet, is that the display remains viewable from any angle, and that it won’t change contrast, brightness and colors when viewed from angles. The TRT-Q5393-07 passes that test.
Excellent build quality
Unlike many Windows-based tablets, Android tablets usually don’t have access panels for expansion modules and such. Teguar’s TRT-Q5393 is no exception. No big deal, as the only reason to ever open a unit would be to change the integrated internal battery. We took a look inside to examine the inner design and layout of the TRT-Q5393.
Opening up the tablet is easy as long as one has a Torx T6 screwdriver bit to undo 16 little screws. Once those are out, the two black polycarbonate + ABS plastic halves easily come apart, with just the speaker and microphone wires plus the ribbon cable for the docking pogo pins between the sides. Sealing between the halves is via a tongue-and-groove design with a what looks like replaceable black o-ring pressure seal.
We didn’t see an aluminum or magnesium chassis inside, and that’s because the PC + ABS housing halves are plenty rigid and make for a strong structure and foundation for all electronics.
The pictures below show the TRT-Q5393 opened up. Click on the image for a full-size version.
The rechargeable internal 3.7V, 4,000mAH Lithium-Ion Polymer battery provides 14.8 watt-hours, which Teguar says is enough to easily make it through even an extended shift. The battery assembly is glued/fastened to the metal frame, but it’s fully accessible and replacement should be simple.
The interior of the tablet itself is spacious and did not require excessive electronics miniaturization. The battery, the motherboard and a few modules and antennae all neatly fit into their spots on the front part of the PC + ABS housing. I/O is limited to a USB Type-C port facing down and the SIM and SDXC Card slots on the right.
The TRT-Q5393, like virtually all ARM/Android devices, is a fanless design; there is not even a need for a metal heat spreader or dissipator. Overall, the interior of the Teguar tablet impresses with clean, solid construction. The few visible wires and ribbons are secured in place with tape strips. The motherboard itself is clearly labelled. With rugged devices, what’s inside determines reliability and longevity, and this Teguar tablet certainly delivers.
Assessing the performance and capabilities of an Android device is quite different from that of a Windows/Intel device. Those are fairly easily determined. After reviewing and benchmarking Intel-based Windows devices for many years, one look at the spec sheet is usually enough for us to get an idea of where a device fits into the overall performance landscape.
In our benchmark testing, the Teguar TRT-Q5393-07 scored a 90,735 in the AnTuTu benchmark suite, and 4,917 in the PCMark for Android Work 3.0 test. That is not at the level of state-of-the-art consumer smartphones, nor did we expect that. On the other hand, its PCMark performance is within 20% of Panasonic’s high-end Toughbook A3. That’s quite respectable and definitely more than adequate for this tablet’s intended markets and deployments.
For communication, the TRT-Q5393-07 comes standard with high-speed 4G LTE (Verizon and AT&T carrier certified), dual-band WIFI (802.11 a/b/g/n/ac), Bluetooth 4.2, as well as GPS/AGPS and GLONASS positioning.
Cameras up to the job
Like virtually all modern tablets, the Teguar has front (8-megapixel) and rear (8-megapixel) cameras. The included Android Camera app doesn’t provide many options and settings, albeit more than what the standard Windows Camera app offers. Camera apps with more settings and features can be downloaded from the Google Play Store.
The purpose of cameras integrated into tablets designed to be used on the job should be to alleviate the need to carry along a dedicated camera or use a modern smartphone for taking pictures. With some practice and depending on the types and quality of images needed, the cameras in the Teguar TRT-A5380 can do that. Click on the sample picture compilation to see it in full size.
The documentation camera can also do decent quality 1080p video. Both cameras are as good or better than what we usually see integrated into rugged tablets.
The purpose of a rugged tablet is to bring computing power to the field and on the job, even if that job is in an inhospitable environment. That means the device must be able to handle the kind of spills, bumps, grinds and splashes that might happen out there. Consumer tablets can’t generally do that, not even in a case.
The TRT-Q5393-07 is way better equipped to hold up. Its design and build are far stronger and far less vulnerable than any consumer tablet. The tablet has a very wide operating temperature range of -4 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit (-20° to +60°C), making possible use and operation in just about any environment, including commercial freezers.
As far as drop resistance goes, the bare tablet can handle repeated 4-foot drops without incurring damage. With the optional (and highly recommended due to their exceptionally good design and functionality) end caps that goes up to a very impressive six feet.
Ingress protection is at the IP54 level. That means the tablet is protected against harmful dust intrusion and can also handle water sprayed from all directions. Both from the outside and the inside, the tablet actually looks like it could handle IP65 or even IP67.
Bottom line: Teguar TRT-Q5393-07 rugged tablet
Where does Teguar’s 7-inch rugged Android tablet fit in? For one thing, it increases the one-stop-shopping appeal of Teguar’s main business of providing cutting-edge industrial and medical computer solutions. It’s always nice to be dealing with a trusted vendor one already does business with. For another, with its ruggedness, very compact size, and wealth of accessories, the TRT-Q5393-07 has very broad application potential in numerous industries.
Most of Teguar’s computers are Windows-based industrial-grade panels and box PCs. Android, however, dominates the smartphone market. Almost universal familiarity with Android often makes it feasible/desirable to go with tough and durable Android-based tablets instead of more complex and more expensive Windows-based solutions. The very versatile 7-inch TRT-Q5393-07 is perfectly suited for that job. — Conrad H. Blickenstorfer, November 2021