Apr 21 2020

Product Review: The Zebra ET56 Offers Portability, Power

With a military-grade durability, the tablet is designed to endure any and all healthcare scenarios.

For a mobile device to be effective in a clinical setting, the trifecta of portability, power and durability is key. Healthcare workers simply can’t sacrifice one element in favor of another.

Designed to meet the needs of nurses and doctors, the Zebra ET56 ably checks all three boxes: size, speed and ruggedness. 

Users may find the tablet ideal in gearing up for high-stakes events such as the rollout of an electronic health record system, which demands the ability to process large amounts of data without disruption, but they’ll also discover that the tablet can endure workplace hazards such as being dropped or getting splashed with fluids. 

Still, the Zebra ET56 tablet doesn’t look like a traditional rugged device. At first glance, the 5.9-by-9-inch frame captures the popular look of a consumer tablet, and the body — at 1.2 pounds — feels like a regular consumer tablet when held. 

SHOP NOW: Get full product details on the Zebra ET56 Enterprise Tablet.

Strength and Speed Are Front of Mind

Despite the sleek and pleasing aesthetics, the tablet’s frame seems nearly indestructible. 

And it is: Rigorous durability testing found that the ET56 could handle freezing weather, and it is advertised as being able to withstand extreme temperatures as low as -4 degrees Fahrenheit. 

That explains why the ET56 has achieved a MIL-STD-810G rating, a standard that signifies a high level of environmental engineering that meets U.S. military standards for durability.

The Zebra ET56 includes a 1.6-gigahertz Intel Atom E3940 processor. The Atom E3940 is a quad-core chip that provides more than enough processing speed to handle whatever tasks a clinician throws at it. 

Combined with a 64 gigabytes of solid state storage and additional microSD slot, the powerful machine is ideal for daily use. 

Images play a crucial role within healthcare, and the Zebra ET56 comes equipped with a better display than most enterprise-class tablets (including the original Zebra ET50) to review them. A 2560-by-1600-pixel resolution on the ET56 is comparable to most iPad devices on the market. An impressive 359 pixels per inch allows clinicians to examine and share highly detailed images, even in bright daylight. 

“Sharing” is the operative word when it comes to describing the ways the ET56 can wirelessly transfer data. Not only does the tablet support all popular flavors of 802.11 Wi-Fi, but it offers top-of-the-line Bluetooth connectivity with a range of more than 100 meters. 

The portability, power and toughness are sure to make the Zebra ET56 a fast favorite and reliable workhorse. Added benefits of sharp ­clarity and robust wireless features help users put the focus on patients and less on the tech itself.

Zebra ET56

The combination of portability, power and toughness are sure to make the Zebra ET56 a fast favorite and reliable workhorse.

Putting the Zebra ET56 to the Test

Taking care of patients is tough enough. The last thing clinicians need to worry about is also having to fix broken technology. 

That’s why the rugged aspect of the ET56 is so impressive. To achieve the MIL-STD-810G rating, a U.S. military designation that indicates rugged technology, the Zebra ET56 had to withstand a battery of harsh elements. Among them: exposure to high and low temperatures, rain, humidity, sand and dust — as well as drop shock onto concrete and transport vibration. 

Adding to this peace of mind is a host of surprising benefits, including a set of robust digital cameras. 

The 8-megapixel rear camera to capture video at 30 frames per second and the 2-megapixel front camera with webcam capability make this device ideal for telemedicine and triage situations, boosted by a fast autofocus and an LED flash. 

With an 8.4-inch touchscreen, the ET56 provides the clarity to help any clinical staff members share and display images. More importantly, a screen brightness of 720 cd/m² offers clarity to view images in rooms with strong halogen lights, such as an ER.

A test found that wearing wet gloves during use didn’t affect the touchscreen’s Corning Gorilla Glass. There was no navigational resistance—the touchscreen remained incredibly responsive throughout. 

Large or small, practically no workplace hazard is too much for the exterior of the Zebra ET56 and its ability to execute digital functions key to high-quality care.


PROCESSOR: 1.6GHz Intel Atom E3940
WIRELESS PROTOCOLS: 802.11a/b/g/n/ac
OPERATING SYSTEM: Windows 10 IoT Enterprise
DISPLAY: 8.4-inch touch screen
DIMENSIONS: 9x5.9x0.5 inches
WEIGHT: 1.2 pounds


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