The slogan for the ET50 and ET55 tablets says that they are “built for business”. With that in mind, we will take an in-depth look at these stylish yet ready-for-business mobile units.
As a tablet sporting an 8.3” or 10.1”, the ET50/55s is an enterprise grade device. The tablet weights, 1.2 lbs and 1.55 lbs respectively, giving the device a robust feel but only slightly heavier than the consumer-focused iPad or Samsung tablets. The tablets are touch sensitive or, if you prefer, come with a simple, high-quality stylus.
Once you turn it on, you’ll find that they can run either Windows 8.1 or Android 5.1, whichever suites your business’ ecosystem better. The ET50/55 tablets are full 1080p resolutions with high pixel densities.
The difference between the ET50 and the ET55 is the type of LTE that’s supported. The ET55 has the flexibility to be on any mobile network, while the ET50 is slightly more restricted.
Zebra did a great job making these displays; the brightness of the screen allows them to be used outdoors in the daylight comfortably. The pixel density outperforms many “retina” devices making the image very sharp. All in all, this fully 1080p display is built exactly right, if it supported a 60 frame per second refresh rate one could almost consider this as a consumer or gaming machine as the 30fps is it’s only weak spot.
The touch-capacitive display accepts 10 point multi-touch; however it’s much more precise if you use an active pen.
The body of the ET50/55 is stylish and built to handle the bustle of working in the field. Without the optional rugged frame, the device is sturdy enough to take a 3 foot fall before it would be damaged. With the rugged frame the device could survive up to 6 foot drops! The modern standard Corning Gorilla Glass 3 adorns the display, making it as resistant to cracking as other high-end devices on the market.
The range of hardware features is overwhelming! The Zebra team managed to provide enterprise businesses with almost anything they could imagine. This includes:
- 802.11a/b/g/n WI-FI support
- 4G LTE connection
- Bluetooth 4.0
- Rear-facing camera
- 256 bit security
- Multi-user login
- User-removable and hot-swappable battery
A few of these features deserve an in-depth look. The rear facing camera is capable of scanning both 1D and 2D barcodes. It’s an 8 megapixel auto-focusing camera with an LED flash. There’s also a front facing camera for video conferences, that’s 2 megapixels and a lot less accurate, but no less industry standard.
Talking about the user-removable, hot-swappable battery; this feature is fairly unique among enterprise level tablets, and is amazing! Never lose time to dead devices. Field crews can now swap a battery and continue doing what they are employed to do, no searching for an outlet, no forgetting chargers, no more lost hours.
The batteries themselves are purported to last a full 8 hour shift – although the type of use was not specified. There are differences in energy consumption between Android and Windows operating systems so, again, mileage may vary – that’s why a 2nd battery is highly recommend!
The internals are just as top of the line as the rest of the device is:
- Intel Quad Core 1.9GHz 64 bit (Android Version)
- Intel Quad Core 2.4GHz 64 bit (Windows Version)
- 2GB LPDDR3 RAM (Android)
- 4GB LPDDR3 RAM (Windows)
- 32 GB eMMC Flash hard drive
- microSDXC card slot which supports up to 2 TB cards
- 3 axis accelerometer
- Ambient Light Sensor to automatically adjust the brightness
The differences between the specs of the Android and Windows version of the device are easily explainable. The Windows operating system requires more resources by itself than the Android version. Again, these additional resources are the reason why the battery may last longer on the Android version of the Zebra ET50/ET55s. Even with a huge discrepancy in the specifications of the hardware, the Android and Windows versions of these tablets operate at very similar speeds.
During the design phase, Zebra decided to add a microSDXC card slot to the device. This allows for hot-swapping saved data and makes up for the very small 32 GB Flash hard drive. With high definition displays, apps have ballooned in size so there wouldn’t be much space left for installing applications to the tablet otherwise.
Android Zebra ET50/ET55s Get Some Extras
The Android version of the ET50 and ET55 tablets has a few more benefits that they call “Mobility DNA Solutions”. These software are commonly used enterprise-level applications that provide oft-used company-wide functions.
This DNA Solution allows for the quick staging of any number of Android devices by scanning a predefined barcode or tapping the NFC to a reader.
– Enterprise Browser
This browser gives the IT department a way to migrate or create web-based apps via a user friendly application.
Zebra provides this to provide developers with a toolkit to integrate Zebra device-specific features to customize any function on the machine.
AppGallery is essentially an app store that was created specifically for Zebra’s Android-installed devices.
ShareCradle is Zebra’s way of future proofing migration among their devices, saving time and money when it becomes time to upgrade.
– Swipe Assist
A button that’s overlaid into the phone that allows for the starting and stopping of data capturing, such as photographing, scanning and/or taking an image of a document.
– All-Touch Terminal Emulation
This final feature allows the user to convert emulation apps to HTML5, which means you do not have to code anything to make any app HTML5 and touch sensitive!
The Zebra ET50/ET55 seems to be a great addition to the higher end enterprise-level tablet market. It has everything businesses need and then some! It’s recommended to go with the Android devices, if they work with your existing infrastructure. All in all, these devices have the power to increase productivity compare to other users using other, lower end devices.
About The Autor:
Adrian Clermont is networking specialist, app developer, researcher and writer on a variety of IT related subjects.