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The Earl Back Country Tablet Sports a New Look, New Specs

The buzzworthyjanuary2 gadget story last summer was the Earl tablet. With a 6″ screen, a rugged shell, and more sensors than you could shake a stick at, the $300 Earl was in a class of its own.

That tablet has seen numerous delays and has long since missed its planned ship date, but it’s still under development. Earlier this month the developers released another update on the Earl, including images of the newly redesigned shell as well as a new spec list. This tablet is still months away from production, but it’s getting closer day by day.

The Earl now has a yellow and black shell.  As you can see in the images below, this case has covers for the ports and an adjustable external antenna. The case is designed to meet the IP68 standard, meaning that it can be submerged in up to 2 meters of water for up to an hour. It’s also designed to protect against a 2 meter drop.

The original shell, which you can see in this Vine video, had a kickstand with a solar panel. After early tests revealed that the kickstand was a weak point, that had to go. Now the solar panel is integrated into the rear of the shell.

And that’s not the only change. The Earl now has a 6″ Mobius E-ink screen. This replaced the original flexible screen which was going to be provided by LG Display. That was added to the design in November, and it was only the first change to the Earl tablet.

The Earl is going to be running Android 4.4 KitKat on a dual-core 1GHz COU with 1GB RAM, 16GB Flash storage, and a microSD card slot. In terms of sensors, this tablet has a barometer, thermometer, hygrometer, and a 9-Axis accelerometer/gyroscope/magnetometer.

In terms of connectivity, the Earl has Wifi, BT, GPS, NFC, and a multi-band M/FM/SW/LW radio. It can also pick up UHF, VHF, and it can double as a low-power 2-way radio. The surfeit of radio support is what lead to the redesign that added the adjustable antenna. Wifi doesn’t need an external antenna, and nor does GPS or Bluetooth, but when it comes to more traditional radio frequencies manually adjusting the antenna can improve the signal.

Here’s a complete list of the new specs:

  • Android 4.4 (Kit Kat)
  • 6” Flexible, sunlight viewable, E-ink screen (1024×758) with front light
  • Glove friendly capacitive touchscreen
  • i.MX 6 DualLite 1 GHz Cortex A9 processor
  • 1GB ram
  • 16GB memory + microSD (up to 128GB)
  • WiFi 802.11 B/G/N
  • NFC with Android Beam
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • ANT+
  • AM/FM/SW/LW world radio
  • 2w two-way radio with 1w/0.5w low power modes
  • GMRS (USA/CA): 462 + 467 MHz
  • PMR446 (EU): 446 MHz
  • UHF CB (AU/NZ): 477MHz
  • VHF: 2m, 136-174 MHz
  • UHF: 70cm, 400-480 MHz
  • GPS with support for GLONASS (Russia), Galileo (EU) and Bedidou (China) locational satellite systems
  • 9-Axis Accelerometer/Gyroscope/Magnetometer
  • Temperature, Humidity and Barometer (10cm resolution)
  • Wolfson WM8960 audio codec
  • Waterproof microphone and speaker, 1 watt
  • Vibration alerts
  • 3.5mm TRRS headphone/microphone jack
  • Micro USB
  • Impact resistant solar panel, 22% efficiency rating
  • 20+ hour Li-Ion 3000mAh removable battery
  • Quick Charging system with data support
  • Dual quick disconnect sling connectors
  • IP68 certified, Ingress Protection of dust and water up to 2 meters (6.6 feet) for up to 60 minutes
  • 125mm x 178mm x 15mm (24mm w/antenna)

The Earl has not yet been certified by the FCC or other regulatory bodies. It is expected to go into production in late May, a little over a year after it was announced and about 10 months later than the original ship date.

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Thomas March 16, 2014 um 2:26 am

I can’t say the delay surprises me. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a crowdfunded tech gadget that didn’t take longer than the original estimate.

Roger May 9, 2015 um 7:40 pm

Is it possible to charge a smartphone with this tablet?

Nate Hoffelder May 9, 2015 um 7:44 pm

The solar panel isn’t big enough.

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