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Rugged Devices

The Rally Roadbooks app can run in almost any device, but it doesn’t mean you should take your daughter’s tablet and strap it to your rally machine.

For a good rally raid experience, out in the desert or deep in the forest trails, we need perfect screen visibility and gps precision. Rugged tablets seem to be an easy answer, readily available and cheap as chips

But are they any good?

We set out to test a myriad of devices in real world conditions, from rainy rally raids to summer time mid noon rides. We crash them, we rode them fast, we rode them hard. And this is what we have to say about them.

All devices were tested several times, by different riders in different motorcycles and conditions. Some devices didn’t survive and some riders got injured.

Samsung Active 2/3

High end rugged tablet from Samsung, water and dust proof, readable in direct sunlight and with a decent GPS chip. Some have a slot for a sim card. The Active 2 can be a good bugdet solution, if you can find one refurbished. We find the Active 3 very similir in features, but with a big advantage – more robust. The charging port on it just handles better the violence of Rally Racing.

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

  • GPS Chip has good precision, never failed, very low drift.
  • the Android feels fast and fluid, even in the Active 2
  • Never got loose from amy of the cradles we used (Brodit, Ram and OneAdventure)
  • It can take a beating
  • Pogo Pins stopped working after 1 ride
  • USB charge port damages easily, and can let water in. Make sure you use a 90º angle fast charge cable. Use duct tape to minimize vibrations.
  • The 8″ screen isn’t very good with direct sunlight, but it’s surprisingly good for 550 nits
  • Price range: Active 2: 100 € – Active 3: 400 €
Active 3
Active 2
Active 3
Active 3
Active 3
Active 2
Active 2
Active 3
Active 3
Active 3
Active 3
Active 3
Active 3
Active 3

DMD-T865

With a modern and sleek design, this rugged tablet from Thork Racing is water and dust proof, and has a slightly brighter screen than the samsungs. It comes with a special cradle that handles charging, which can only be mounted in landscape. Unfortunately, ours jumped off the bike and didn’t survive.

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

  • Designed for motorcycle usage
  • Good solution for on road usage, or light offroad, but not for hardcore rally.
  • 8″ Screen is readable in direct sunlight – 800 nits
  • Light and slim
  • Integrated SOS, fall detection and auto turn on/off with the motorcycle’s ignition
  • We didn’t like the cradle (only landscape)
  • Pogo pins stopped working
  • Price range: 700 €

CrossCall T4/T5

Industrial grade french tablet from CrossCall, that handles low and high temperatures. Very popular in the amateur rally scene in Spain, it can be an entry level device. You can get a motorcycle cradle for it from HesaParts.

The Good, The Bad and The Sexy

  • A different design, sleeker, than the tradicional formats, adds some style to the cockpit
  • 8″ screen with sub par brightness – 450 nits
  • Huge battery capacity (7000mah) let’s you ride without charging
  • Magnetic charge port, fits perfect with the Hesa Parts cradle
  • Price range: T4: 300 € – T5: 600 €

Carpe Iter V4

The latest upgrade from Carpe brought it’s flagship product to Android 11, and it’s now compatible with TerraPirata. This 7″ screen rugged tablet features an M8 charging port and a bright screen. The GPS chip is better that your average rugged tablet, and the chassis handles sudden decreases in speed (crashes..).

The Good, The Bad and The Old

  • Beefed up chassis, looks the part.
  • The M8 charging port is prepared to endure extreme conditions
  • 7″ screen, visible under sunlight – 1.000 nits
  • Very decent GPS
  • Heavy, and cumbersome to take around with you, compared with it’s modern sexy peers
  • When the sun hits the screen directly, the glare can make it hard to see the screen
  • Price range: 600 €

Rally Tab

Rally Tab

South-african Willem Avenant Racing sells a rugged tablet that he’s personally using to win rallies across the America. Sharing the same platform as the Carpe Iter, it’s also a 7″ screen, ships with standard android and has an improved GPS chip. There’s also a different model, cheaper and less rugged – they call it the Adventure model.

The Good, The Bad and The Gold

  • Endured the Baja 1000, the Coast to Coast Rally and the desert of Abu Dhabi.
  • 7″ screen, visible under sunlight – 1.000 nits
  • Dust proof, water proof and rally proof
  • Great support from seller
  • Ships from the USA
  • Heavy duty, lockable cradle
  • M8 charger
  • Price range: 500 $ – 900 $ (USD)
Rally Tab
Adventure Tab
Rally Tab
Rally Tab
Rally Tab
Rally Tab
Rally Tab
Adventure Tab
Adventure Tab

F2R Y1000

From F2R we have a digital roadbook device, designed and built for rally raid. It runs with a lightweight version of Android 13, and it’s beyond rugged. With bullet proof glass, this beast can endure the hardest conditions. Weighs slightly less than the paper roadbook setup it replaces.

  • Hardware, Firmware and Software all made in Portugal.
  • Compatible with RDS
  • Uber bright screen
  • 100% optimized for Roadbooks
  • Complete spec list coming out soon
  • Available soon – 1.500 € – 2.000 €

FINAL CONSIDERATIONS

Currently there are several manufacters in China (Soten Hugerock is a good example) that produce tablets to custom specs, with a cstomized Android that includes the resellers logo.

The major difference between this devices is the resellers ability to provide a good customer service when things don’t work as expected.

The only manufacter that is creating a new device, with in house development, seems to be F2R.

2024 UPDATE | NEW DEVICES

This list contains devices and rugged tablets we could test up to this date that can be used in a motorcycle while riding in the sun. We’ll be updating this page to add new devices frequently.

TriplTek 7/8/9 weren’t included in this review because they’re rated “drone” tablets, and aren’t prepared to endure a rally raid. So we saved a couple thousand bucks, and skipped ahead.

TESTING CONDITIONS

Units were tested with different mount options on different KTM 500EXC, KTM 690, Honda CRF450RX, Honda CRF300L, Sherco 450, Kawasaki KX450, XR650R, Husqvarna 501 with different riders. The feedback we present here is cumulative from 2023 to the present date.

We rode backyard trails, participated in Rally Raid events, and some were even tested during the Abbu Dhabi Desert Challenge. We rode them hard, in the heat of the sand, flying over the whoops, crossing rivers that were too deep to be crossed and rode them in the pouring rain. We even left them in the sun while we were inside drinking cold beers in the summer. Some rugged tablets did not survive. Here’s the death toll:

  • 1x Active 1 fried the pogo pins
  • 1x Active 1 had the screen broken after it was dropped “face down” (surprisigly, it still worked and endured rain!)
  • 1x Active 2 died after 2 hours riding in the pouring rain (water got in via the charging port)
  • 2x Active 2 charging port started having connections issues (a 90º cable seems to prevent this)
  • 1x Active 3 had a close encounter with a todler and had his screen smashed. Still, was working fine-ish.
  • 1x HugeRock X7 was making a weird noise (something was loose inside) and eventually just died
  • 1x DMD-T865 jumped out of the cradle and something broke inside. GPS stopped working from then on.
  • 1x Rally Tab started showing chinese text scrolling up and didn’t start the Android
  • 4x Carpe Iter (Android 9) had problems with Google Play Store, and some apps couldn’t be installed

RESULTS

We tried a lot of devices, cradles and charging systems – so we know what works. Some devices work best on motorcycles, while others are more suitable for Autos/SSV because of the larger screen.

After so much testing, there was no doubt anymore.

BEST RUGGED DEVICE

The best device by far was the F2R Y1000 digital roadbook device. We had no issues of any kind, and the screen was always super visible.

Since the device isn’t available yet, and it’s specs weren’t officially released, all we can say it’s that after used several tablets & solutions, powerbox, pogo pins, usb chargers and different rugged tablets is very nice to finally have this “install and forget about it” solution. Since the day it was mounted on the bikes it never had an issue. Truly, a Ready to Race solution!

Unfortunately, it’s not for sale yet.

MOTORCYCLES

In this category we can safely say the Active 3 it’s the go-to solution. Affordable, robust and can take a serious beating. It has an 8″ screen that although only has 550 nits, it handles the sun glare quite well, all things considered.

The other option would be the Rally Tab. It’s a 7″ screen with 1000 nits, so more visibility in the open Desert under the sun. The reseller WAvenant is known for it’s very good customer support.

The CrossCall T4 can also be an option if you don’t have a charging solution. It’s 7.000mah can last you long hours on the seat with full brightness (but it’s only 450 nits). Readable enough for you sunday morning ride.

AUTO & SSV

Having a roof over your head means to direct sunlight to the scren, and no rain. It means you could use the Active 2, saving a few hunders bucks. Make sure you’ve got a good solution to secure the USB-C charging cable to the tablet, and you’re good to go.

Bigger screen? Take a look at the 10″ Samsung Active 4 Pro – and tell us if it’s any good. We didn’t test that yet.


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