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Best rugged tablets of 2020: Water resistant, drop-proof and shockproof slates

You're going to need the best rugged tablet money can buy if you work outside or in busy environments, as the pieces of kit can be the ideal tool for a range of functions. These are powerful handheld devices that can withstand hard knocks and long drops, but also provide you a decent user experience at the same time.

The best rugged tablets have been built to withstand the elements, with the latest shock-absorbing technology built in.  They have also been put through rigorous testing to make sure that they will endure all sorts of punishment. 

This does mean that they come with a slightly higher initial outlay compared to standard tablets, but it's worth remembering that they can save money in the long one, as you don't need to repair or replace damaged rugged tablets as often – if at all.

While you won't get a rugged tablet that's as slim and light as the iPad Air 2, it doesn't mean you should have to lug around a chunky and unwieldy tablet either. If you think a conventional tablet like that might be better for your work, check out our list of the best tablets instead.

So, to help you find the best rugged tablet, we've put together this list, which gather the top shock and drop-proof tablets on the market today. 

Panasonic Toughpad FZ-M1

1. Panasonic Toughpad FZ-M1 rugged tablet

A powerful yet rugged 7-inch tablet

Weight: 450g | Dimensions: 203mm x 18mm x 132mm | OS: Windows 10 Pro | Screen size: 7-inch | Resolution: 1280 x 800 pixels | CPU: Intel Core m5-6Y57 vPro | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 128GB | microSD slot: Yes | Battery: approx 3,220mAh | Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: 2MP

Very well protected
Display designed for bright conditions
Battery life isn't the best

If you're working outside, then the Panasonic Toughpad FZ-M1 is easily one of the best rugged tablets on the market today. This is thanks not only to its tough design that is shock resistant to to drops of up ton 180cm, but also because the display has been designed to be used outdoors in bright sunlight - so you'll still be able to use the Panasonic Toughpad FZ-M1 no matter how bright your surroundings are. The screen supports 10-finger multi-touch, it runs on Windows 10 Pro, it's water and dust resistant and comes with a configuration port for a variety of expansions (serial, LAN, 2D Barcode Reader, NFC).

The Pansaonic Toughpad FZ-M1 has seen a successor since it was launched, but we weren't as big fans of that device as we are this one, so if you're looking for the best rugged tablet for you, this still takes our pick for the top spot.

Getac F110

2. Getac F110 rugged tablet

A great rugged tablet for working in the field

Weight: 139g | Dimensions: 314 x 207 x 24.5 mm | OS: Windows 10 Pro | Screen size: 11.6-inch | Resolution: 1366 x 768 pixels | CPU: Intel Core i7-6600U 2.6GHz | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 128GB/256B/512GB/1TB | microSD slot: No (but can be added via expansion slot) | Battery: 2,160mAh | Rear camera: 1080P (optional) | Front camera: 8MP (optional)

Thin and light
Dual battery
Lack of ports

If you're looking for a rugged Windows tablet that can withstand an impressive amount of punishment, then the Getac F110 is an excellent choice. Its durable body can withstand moisture, extreme temperatures and drops, without it being bulky or heavy. It is certified to MIL-STD 810G, 1P65 and MIL-STD-461F standards. The most recent version of this tablet comes with 6th generation Intel Core processors, so there's plenty of power here, and a dual battery system means you can easily swap them out without having to pause.

There are a few other Getac devices out there, but this is one of the only that's rugged enough to make our list of the top spots (the company makes rugged laptops too).

3. Dell Latitude 7212 Rugged Extreme Tablet

Lighter and more powerful than its predecessor

Weight: 1.3kg | Dimensions: 312 x 203 x 24 mm | OS: Windows 10 Pro | Screen size: 11.6-inch | Resolution: 1920 x 1080 | CPU: 7th Gneration Intel Core i3, i5 or i7 | RAM: 8GB/16GB | Storage: 128GB - 1TB | Battery: 34 whr

Very solidly built
Much improved hardware

Dell is another well-known brand that produces rugged tablets. The Dell Latitude 7212 Rugged Extreme Tablet is one such device, and Dell has recently updated the model with more up-to-date components,including 7th generation Intel Core processors (though we'd like to see 8th generation chips included soon). For your money you get an excellently-built tablet that has IP65, MIL-STD-810G and IP-810G certifications (rather than merely meeting the standards in laboratory tests). Dell's customary high build quality is evident here, and while it isn't the most glamorous looking tablet, it does the job of withstanding harsh conditions, and accidental drops. It's quite an expensive tablet, but with improved components, and a range of specifications that you configure to better suit your needs, the Dell Latitude 7212 Rugged Extreme Tablet is well worth the price.

HP ElitePad 1000

4. HP ElitePad G2 1000 rugged tablet

Specially designed for work

Weight: 1.5kg | Dimensions: 215.15 x 287.1 x 36.4 mm | OS: Windows 10 | Screen size: 10.1-inch | Resolution: 1920 x 1200 pixels | CPU: Intel Atom Bay Trail-T Z3795 Quad Core 1.6 GHz SoC BGA | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 128GB | microSD slot: No | Battery: 4,615mAh | Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: 2.15MP

Great business features
Good price
Not the most powerful tablet
Lack of ports

The HP ElitePad 1000 is a fantastic business laptop, and it can be configured to come in a rugged design that is IP65 and MIL-STD 810G tested. It can withstand a 6ft drop onto linoleum-covered concrete. It features an Intel Atom processor, which isn't the most powerful CPU, but it's still capable of handling most business applications.  Biometric security keeps your important data safe, and HP also offers a range of accessories, such as docking stations and additional batteries.

Panasonic Toughbook CF-33

5. Panasonic Toughbook CF-33 rugged tablet

A rugged 2-in-1

Weight: 276g | Dimensions: 313.0 x 288.4 x 46.1mm | OS: Windows 10 | Screen size: 12-inch | Resolution: 2160 x 1440 | CPU: Intel Core i5-7300U processor | RAM: 8GB | Storage: 256GB | Battery: 1990mAh | Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: 1080p

2-in-1 design
Great screen
Short battery life

The Panasonic Toughbook CF-33 is a 2-in-1 rugged device, which means it has an attachable keyboard that allow it to work as either a laptop or as a tablet. When in tablet mode, the Toughbook CF-33 is an excellent durable machine , with MIL-STD-461F, MIL-STD-810G and IP65 certification, which means it can survive shocks, drops liquids and dust. The battery life is a bit on the short side compared to other rugged tablets on this list, but you can quickly swap out the battery when you need extra time. You can also buy extended batteries that double the run time from 10 hours to 20. This is an additional cost, however.

Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 2

6. Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 2 rugged tablet

A rugged and portable tablet

Weight: 415g | Dimensions: 127.6 x 214.7 x 9.9 mm | OS: Android | Screen size: 8-inch | Resolution: 800 x 1280 pixels | CPU: Octa-core 1.6 GHz Cortex-A53 | RAM: 3GB | Storage: 16GB | microSD slot: Yes | Battery: 4,450mAh | Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: 5MP

Survives natural elements
Good battery life
Not the most robust rugged tablet
Small storage space

Unlike other rugged tablets on this list, the Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 2 isn't designed for industrial-grade protection. However, what it does provide is IP67 certification for dust and water ingress, and a battery that lasts between eight to 10 hours. Plus, it supports replaceable batteries, so you can keep on working even if you're away from a power supply, and it's drop-tested to 1.2 metres. A decent camera and NFC technology are included, and it's rounded off with Samsung's customary excellent build quality. The newer Galaxy Tab Active 2 improves on a lot of the features of the first Tab Active, with more RAM, better CPU and much more.

Xplore Xslate D10

7. Xplore Xslate D10 rugged tablet

A rugged Android tablet

Weight: 109g | Dimensions: 281 x 180 x 22 mm | OS: Android 6.0 | Screen size: 10.1-inch | Resolution: 1366 x 768 | CPU: Intel Bay Trail E3845 Quad Core 1.91GHz | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 64GB | Battery: up to 8 hours | Rear camera: 5MP | Front camera: 2MP

Good screen for outdoor use
Decent price
Not the fastest tablet
Battery life isn't great

This 10.1-inch Android tablet can withstand drops up to five feet, as well as being water and dust resistant. While it's bulkier and heavier than non-rugged tablets, it's still portable enough to be easily carried around worksites. Its screen isn't the highest resolution, but with a 500 Nit backlight, it is excellent for use in direct sunlight. It's not the most powerful tablet on this list, but it's a more affordable alternative for people who want to use an Android device outside and on the road.

Getac Z710

8. Getac Z710 rugged tablet

An excellent rugged Android device

Weight: 780g | Dimensions: 218 x 142 x 27 mm | OS: Android 6.0 | Screen size: 7-inch | Resolution: 1280 x 720 | CPU: Intel Atom Atom x5-Z8350 | RAM: 2GB | Storage: 32GB/64GB | Battery: 8,400mAh | Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: 2MP

Nice design
Good display
Not the most powerful
Screen suffers in direct sunlight

The Getac Z710 is a handy rugged tablet that does pretty much everything you'd want from an Android tablet, while coming in a rugged body. Design-wise the Getac Z710 is one of the better looking rugged tablets we've seen, and it comes with a number of business-orientated features that make it an excellent choice for enterprise use. The 7-inch screen is crisp and responsive to touch, but it does have a habit of showing off glare in direct lights. It has been tested for drops up to six foot, and is  MIL-STD-810G certified, while Corning Gorilla glass protects the screen from shattering.