Motion Computing R12 review
Motion Computing was designing and building Windows tablets long before the Surface was even a twinkle in Microsoft’s eye. The latest addition to the family, the R12, eschews the distinctive Speak & Spell physique of Motion Computing’s F5 and C5 tablets for a more traditional-looking design. It’s no bog-standard tablet, however. Combining a 12.5in touchscreen with a ruggedised, splash-proof body and capable Intel Core hardware, the R12 is designed to survive everywhere from the boardroom to a building site.
Motion Computing R12 review: design
While other Windows tablets such as Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3 trade on their light weight and slender good looks, the R12 is a much burlier proposition. Grippy, dimpled rubber covers the back and sides, and curls around at the front to provide a protective lip. Motion Computing has covered the R12’s 12.5in Full HD display with a layer of Gorilla Glass 3 for good measure, but the rubber frame means that you can place the tablet face down on even rough surfaces without worrying about the display getting scratched.
The chassis is merely semi-ruggedised, so it’s nowhere near as overbuilt as the Panasonic Toughpad FZ-G1 – but it’s still IP54-rated, which means it’s largely dust-proof and protected against splashes of water from any angle. It feels super-sturdy, too, even when subjected to brutal twisting and flexing motions. The downside is bulk: at 1.34kg on its own and 1.74kg with the charger, it’s a considerably heftier character than the 800g Surface Pro 3.
Motion Computing R12 review: features and connectivity
The R12 has an entirely different personality to most Windows tablets, however, with tons of features and connectivity options. There’s a good-sized passive stylus for starters and, unlike the Surface Pro 3, this docks flush into the tablet’s body. For added security it’s tethered to the body of the R12 with a rubber bungee.
Add the optional Companion Keyboard, and the R12 also attempts to double as a hybrid laptop. The keyboard is held in a caddy that clamps magnetically to the back of the tablet, and folding the caddy outwards sees it double as a fixed-position stand. Neatly, the miniature Bluetooth keyboard charges directly from the R12’s internal battery, but it isn’t the last word in ergonomic comfort. The rubber backing stops it sliding around on a desk, and there’s a decent amount of travel and responsiveness to the keys, but it’s small and cramped. It’s also very tricky to use on your lap.
Pop open the sealed flaps on the tablet’s right-hand flank and there’s a good selection of ports and slots. The R12 has a full-sized HDMI output and USB 3 ports, an SD card reader and a 3.5mm headset jack. There’s even a modicum of security, with TPM 1.2 support and a fingerprint reader on the R12’s edge. Motion Computing has also squeezed in a decent 8-megapixel rear-facing camera with LED flash, and a front-facing 2-megapixel sensor for good measure.
Inside, wireless networking includes 802.11ac and Bluetooth 4 as standard, while 4G is an optional upgrade. If that doesn’t hit the mark, it’s also possible to add a serial port, RFID reader or barcode scanner via the SlateMate expansion module: this screws into a narrow panel on the tablet’s rear and juts several centimetres proud of the bottom edge. Even the 43Wh, 2,900mAh battery is removable, something of a rarity for most tablets.
Motion Computing R12 review: display and performance
Up front, the R12’s 12.5in Full HD display puts in a solid performance. The accuracy and range of colour doesn’t seem to have been a priority – the IPS panel covers a mere 66.5% of the sRGB gamut, and colours look a little washed out as a result – but brightness and contrast are right on target. Outdoor readability is a possibility thanks to the combination of Motion’s View Anywhere anti-glare coating and an LED backlight which reaches a maximum brightness of 431cd/m[sup]2[/sup]. The 791:1 contrast ratio is respectable, and viewing angles are superb, with colours remaining stable and onscreen content legible from every direction.
It’s no surprise to find Intel’s Core i5 and Core i7 CPUs powering the whole show. Our review model used the faster 1.7GHz Core i7-4610Y processor and, combined with 8GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD, this proved more than capable of slicing through day-to-day tasks. As the CPU is a member of Intel’s more power-efficient Y-class family of CPUs, it gives away a little in raw performance, but it’s no slouch. It pulled 3% ahead of the 1.9GHz Core i5-4300U CPU in the Surface Pro 3 with a result of 0.64 in our Real World Benchmarks.
Battery life isn’t quite as good. With the screen dimmed to 75cd/m[sup]2[/sup] and Wi-Fi off, the R12 survived for 7hrs 12mins in our light-use battery test. That’s some way short of the Surface Pro 3, but the R12 has a trick up its armoured sleeve – that removable battery is hot-swappable. Carry a couple of spare batteries and it’s possible to keep the R12 going for a whole day of intensive usage.
Motion Computing R12 review: optional extras
As ever, Motion Computing provides a wide range of accessories and optional extras that have been specifically designed for the R12. The toughened Work Anywhere Kit adds a shoulder strap, armoured case and a screen protector. The Secure Mobile Dock makes vehicle mounting possible, and there’s a chunky desktop docking station, too. The docking station, in particular, is far sturdier than most we’ve encountered, and it should be for £400. It comprises a solid metal stand, which holds the tablet a few inches off the desk and tilts back and forth. It also provides an extra two USB 3 ports, two more USB 2 ports and VGA and HDMI video outputs, as well as Gigabit Ethernet and a serial port.
Motion Computing R12 review: verdict
This level of specialisation doesn’t come cheap: even the base model R12 equipped with a Core i5 CPU, 4GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD costs the best part of £2,000. Start adding accessories and upgrades to the mix, and you can expect to part with around £3,000.
That said, the R12 does deliver a convincing package. It’s tough enough to survive in harsh environments, provides enough performance to cope with demanding applications, and the array of optional accessories makes it capable of adapting to a wide range of field-ready roles. There are better hybrids out there, and better pure tablets, but none of those will survive the kind of abuse that the Motion Computing R12 will take in its stride.
|Warranty||3 yr return to base|
|Dimensions||328 x 17 x 206mm (WDH)|
Processor and memory
|Processor||Intel Core i7-4610Y|
|SODIMM sockets free||0|
|SODIMM sockets total||0|
Screen and video
|Resolution screen horizontal||1,920|
|Resolution screen vertical||1,080|
|Resolution||1920 x 1080|
|Graphics chipset||Intel HD Graphics 4200|
|VGA (D-SUB) outputs||0|
|Replacement battery price inc VAT||£0|
|Wired adapter speed||N/A|
|802.11 draft-n support||yes|
|Integrated 3G adapter||yes|
|3.5mm audio jacks||1|
|SD card reader||yes|
|Pointing device type||Touchscreen|
|Camera megapixel rating||8.0mp|
Battery and performance tests
|Battery life, light use||7hr 21min|
|Overall Real World Benchmark score||0.64|
Operating system and software
|Operating system||Windows 8 64-bit|
|OS family||Windows 8|