In need of an absolute Ironman mobile device that can hack any call of duty in the field? The mobile market is flooded with “rugged” device options these days — we’ve covered a bunch of them — but the new Earl, from Seattle-based Squigle, is the latest making a bid to be the ruggedest of all.
To be sure, Earl isn’t designed for the urban masses, nor is it marketed specifically to industrial markets. But conceived more as a “backcountry survival” device, it boasts a number of features that service managers and field engineers might love, such as:
- Android OS. Earl runs on Android’s 4.1 Jelly Bean OS — a more open and developer-friendly platform than Apple’s app ecosystem.
- Impenetrable screen. Earl sports a 6-inch e-ink screen (similar to those on many e-readers) that water, mud, dust or shock can’t touch.
- Waterproof. In its hard case, Earl can swim — in up to three feet of water for up to 30 minutes. (Try that with a Phablet.)
- 2-way radio connectivity. Earl gives users a 20-mile range for two-way radio communication and adds an AM/FM/SW/LW radio tuner — all features that are still uncommon on most tablets but pretty handy for tech-to-tech and tech-to-office communication.
- Solar-powered. Unlike any other rival tablet, in addition to its 3000-mAh battery, Earl is also solar powered via a pull-out solar panel. Five hours of sunlight yields 20 hours of continuous operation.
- “Glove-friendly” touch screen. The screen’s IR touch array allows for normal usage while wearing gloves. Not a unique feature in the rugged marketplace, but certainly not a universal standard. It’s a nice touch for industrial use.
Last but not least is the friendly price tag. Many industrial rugged tablets run well over $1000 per device. The Earl is a crowd-funded product, meaning customers can reserve a device for just $249 — 30 percent below expected retail — with shipping expected to start in late summer.
Wondering about the name? So were we. The Earl is named after its creator’s dog, an Italian Greyhound.