Most of the new tablets we see have much the same design, with an all glass front and slim black bezel. While it probably won't win any beauty contest, Orchard's new Toughlet tablet has a unique and rugged design, and brings a number of nice features along as well.
The most significant change is of course the case, which is made of a titanium/aluminum alloy, and sealed with weatherLox technology to keep out dust and moisture. Gorilla Glass protects the 7-inch Pixel Qi display, which can be used both as a regular backlit color display or a sunlight viewable e-ink type panel. Even the battery in the device has been ruggedized, and is of the nickel-zinc variety which can withstand higher temperatures than traditional cells.
All this hardware is protecting the tablet's innards, which include a 1.2GHz Cortex A8 processor, Bluetooth, WiFi, IR and RFID sensors. Data connectivity will be optional, but different 3G and 4G models can be installed.
The software on this device is where things really interesting. According to Orchard Inc, although the current demo unit runs Android, both Windows 8 and WebOS will be options. Many people are excited about Windows 8, but personally I am interested in what looks like one of the first devices to come out of WebOS's recent open source release.
Unfortunately, Orchard Inc has no plans to release their tablet to consumers, and will instead sell it in bulk to business. The base $550 price also seems a bit high, but considering the amount of tech packed in the probably expensive case, that is somewhat excuseable. I can't say I really have a use for this tablet, but it is a nice break from what we usually see, and appears to have quite a few good business/rugged features.