Earl: A New Ironman Tablet for Field Duty?

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.