If you need a rough and tough gadget to take with you to the backcountry, you might want an introduction to Earl, an Android-powered, solar-charged, two-way radio enabled, waterproof tablet.
Sure, you can wrap your high-tech smartphone in a bombproof case, but between its high power demands and lack of ability to charge itself, and its inherent fragility, you might be working against its own design by trying to put it to a use that was never intended.
But Earl, well, Earl is different.
Earl is designed from the bottom up to be the off-grid gadget that could save your life, whether you're just on a jaunt into the woods for the day or you're prepping for an emergency or survival situation.
Currently in the crowdfunding stage, Earl has a glove-friendly e-ink touchscreen, mono-crystalline solar cells that can provide a full charge in five hours, and is completely dust-, mud-, shock-, and waterproof (capable of surviving full submersion in 3 feet of water for 30 minutes). The device can handle altitudes up to 40,000 feet, and operates in temperatures ranging from 0-50 °C.
This tablet also plots your precise location, direction, and elevation with their GPS chipset and integrated "cutting-edge motion, force and orientation sensors", and gives users access to some 300,000 trail maps. And when you absolutely need to know what the weather is doing (or is forecasted to do), the internal weather sensors (thermometer, hygrometer, barometer and anemometer) will help to give you a clue.
Earl also features a built-in AM/FM/SW/LW radio tuner for your listening pleasure, and an integrated two-way radio (FRS, GMRS and MURS) will connect users to digital or analog radio frequencies up to 20 miles away, letting them communicate with others in 'walkie-talkie' mode.
And because this device runs on the Android platform, users have access to thousands of compatible apps, extending functionality even further, and Earl's open API lends itself to further development and integration with apps and guidebooks.
What's the catch? Well, it only comes in two colors, for one. And it's not actually available just yet. But if you preorder Earl ($249, or $299 with 24k resolution topo maps on microSD), you'll not only get a bit of a deal (30% off of suggested retail), but you'll also be helping to jumpstart the production process (and get that warm, fuzzy, early-adopter feeling in your heart).
Find out more at Meet Earl.