Rugged tablets vendors have solutions for all sorts of different situations, from temperature extremes to harsh environments where the device might be subject to hard falls or water.
But you’ll generally pay a premium for such rugged tablets. Earl? Not so much.
The crowdfunded project says Earl will be available for $249 (a 30% discount) through June 9. A recent check of the website, shows the project has raised $44,992 of its $250,000 goal. So it’s not clear how long buyers will have to wait and there’s always the possibility the whole thing will be scuttled.
Still it’s an interesting project in that it targets a very specific rugged niche. In sum, Earl wants to be the best tablet for extreme outdoor situations, like hiking up a mountain or the remote wilderness.
In addition to rugged casing, Earl has an advanced GPS that gives you a precise reading of your location, direction and elevation. The Android 4.1 tablet also includes internal weather sensors designed to accurately forecast changing conditions, even in the most remote locations.
It’s “survival” features include a “glove friendly” infrared touchscreen, with 3D joypad and gyroscope for various touch and motion gestures in most environments.
The 1024 x 768 E-ink screen from by LG is designed to provide “superior visibility” in direct sunlight. There’s also a “lunar mode” for nighttime illumination that doubles as an emergency lantern.
The designer also says Earl is “water/dust/shock and mud-proof" and rated to be submerged under 3 feet of water for up to 30 minutes. A laminated solar panel provides up to 20 hours of battery life.
One feature missing common to most tablets though is a built-in camera.
"We designed Earl to last for years to come," says Earl's designer Jonathan Perry on his website's Q&A. "Current smart device cameras are expensive and constantly evolving. So opted to exclude this from Earl's current design."