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Xplore iX104C2 Tablet PC

Review by Linda A. Epstein
 September 2005

Xplore iX104C2 Dual Mode Tablet PC

Sometimes it the little things that set one machine apart from the others, in this case,  it's Xplore's attention to little details and exceptional accessories set it head and shoulders above many others.

When it comes to outdoor displays that we have used, reviewed and photographed in 2005 the Xplore iX104 Rugged Tablet PC wins our Editors Choice for a Indoor Outdoor display.    We suspect that their AllVue technology which is not available on the dual mode we had for review is an even better choice for those who need a true indoor outdoor display.

The Xplore iX104C2 is a 1.1 hz rugged slate style Tablet PC,  that boots in under 60 seconds with 1gig of ram installed.  We got 3 Hours 38 minutes of battery life with the Tablet running in always on mode, with the wireless on, no standby, no hibernate and the screen and hard drive set to always on. 

With its thick dark blue case and large rubber bumpers on the corners the look and feel of the Xplore Tablet PC is masculine and rugged, yet it wouldn't necessarily be out of place in the boardroom.  The iX104C2 has an elegance all its own.

Los Angeles Philharmonic Sound designer Fred Vogler
checks out the Xplore Tablet PC at the Hollywood Bowl

From the Xplore website:

  • Xplore is the only rugged tablet PC vendor with AllVue™ technology, an advanced LCD assembly process that reduces glare and increases screen readability in all light levels, including direct sunlight. Learn more...

  • the iX104C2 family is the first in the rugged tablet PC market with the latest Intel® Centrino (733) mobile technology, AllVue™ enhanced display, advanced wireless LAN certifications, up to 4 multimodel wireless devices and patent pending auto-sensing Dual Mode technologies.

Our favorite features:

Dual Mode,  In the case of the Xplore iX104C2  the pen is conveniently tethered so your not likely to lose it.  But the fact remains that the general population, myself included has a habit of losing pens.  Having the ability to access your Tablet PC  without the pen if need be is a sweet feature. 

The ability to use either the pen or your finger or in my case - finger nail is a valuable feature that I would very much like to see on more Tablet PC's.

Pen Feel ,  Not all pens feel alike.  Every Tablet we use has a diff rent pen, although for all intent and purpose they serve the same function they do not all feel the same in your hand.  a combination of metal and plastic the pen included with the iX104C2 simply feels good in your hand and is easy to adapt to.  

The Hands Free, snap around case also included's a shoulder strap (not shown)

The Case:  The absolute best designed case of this type I have used to date.   This "Bump Style" is close fitting and well designed.  Rather than fight to get the Tablet into and out of the case, unlike any others we've seen or used,  this one snaps around the Tablet and ads no extra bulk making it convenient to use and comfortable to carry. 

If this case had fit any of the the tablets I own -- I would have put a check in the box and not returned it! 

Ambient light sensor:  the Ambient light sensor does a great job of the amount of backlit sent to the screen

Buttons: Control-Alt-Delete, Screen Rotation, Function Key, Windows Toggle, Enter Key, windows start menu, three hot keys

Xplore backlight buttons

Backlit Buttons:  Another nice feature we haven't (or don't remember) seeing on any other Tablet PC is backlit buttons that allow the user to use the Tablet PC in the dark with ease.   The case mentioned above gives you easy access to the buttons at all times.

Last but not least: A user friendly users manual!

The iX104C2 in full sun( Left) and outside in the shade (Right)


scribbler boxWhat's in the Box:

  • Xplore iX104C2 Tablet PC
  • Battery
  • Pen & Tether
  • User manual
  • Getting Started guide
  • Cleaning cloth
  • AC adapter & Power cord
  • warranty booklet


Xplore iX104C2 Dual mode Tablet PC

  • Active pen interface and resistive touch interface in a single unit
  • Inductive digitizer
  • Three year warranty
  • Intel Pentium M 733 - ULV @ 1.1 GHz
  • 1 GB DDR RAM
  • 75GB HDD
  • 10.4" XGA Transmissive LCD
  • Windows XP Tablet PC edition
  • IP67 compliant (up to 30cm water)
  • Integrated  802.11b/g wireless networking
  • WiFI and CCX (Cisco Compatible Extensions) certified

Something never change, and we still feel that users of slate style tablet pcs should order them with docking stations when ever possible.  THe benefits of having a docking station when your indoors far out weigh the costs and make the user experience that much more pleasurable. 

Unfortunately we did not get the opportunity to review the docking station for you, but from what we can see and the information below it appears that Xplore has done an great job of combining form, function and features into their Xstand.

The X-Stand is the "in-building" docking station for the iX104. The X-Stand allows users to rotate the iX104 from portrait to landscape and adjust the viewing angle to meet their viewing needs. A strong stabilizer arm allows users to write on the unit at any angle. As with all iX104 docks the X-Stand has been designed to enable the user to leverage the power of Tablet PC's "grab-n-go" capabilities in an office or configuration center environment.

X-Stand System Features/Benefits

  • Designed in conjunction with the iX104 to ensure tight tolerances and accurate electrical connections
  • Stable base to support the system when in the office or service bay
  • Built-in I/O provides the user flexibility to add specific accessories to support their application
  • Provides instant connectivity to desktop peripherals, power and charging, and external LAN hardware
  • On-board single bay battery charger
  • Integrated spare stylus holder

Expansion is available via integrated ports. Ports are as follows:

  • 1 each audio in/out RCA jacks
  • 2 USB (A-Type, 1 Host, 1 Slave)
  • 1 10/100 Ethernet port (RJ-45)   
  • 1 DC input jack
  • 1 CRT (15-pin VGA)

The Display:  10.4" XGA Transmissive LCD

Battery Life:  3 Hours 38 minutes in always on mode, wireless on, no standby, no hibernate and the screen and hard drive on.

Heat:  We did not experience a heat issue

WiFi: Intel® PRO/Wireless 2200BG Network Connection (802.11b/g)

Weight : 4.66 lbs.

Software included on our review unit:

  • Microsoft Streets and Trips
  • Microsoft Office 2003
  • Microsoft One note
  • Mi- Forms

The Pros

  • Dual Mode
  • Rugged
  • Great Pen
  • Excellent "bump style" case- (Sold separately)

The Cons: 

  • No desktop stand include
  • Heavy - but keep in mind that's because this is a "Rugged Tablet PC"
  • As the usb ports are on the bottom of the machine and it is a rugged Tablet PC, the Ports are protected by a tight rubber seal so the iX104C2 is not easy to use on your desk unless you purchase the docking station.
  • Xplore's AllVue Screen Technology is not currently compatible with Dual Mode models.

In Conclusion:    Sometimes it the little things that set one machine apart from the others, in this case Xplore's attention to little details and exceptional accessories set it head and shoulders above many others. 

If your looking for a Rugged tablet PC the Xplore iX104C2 is an excellent choice.  It looks good, feels good, and if you happen to drop it you wont break it!  We found the iX104C2 very much to our liking, truth be told, we found it so much to our liking that we didn't want to return it. 

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