A tablet for reading in the tub

March 12, 2012: 5:00 AM ET

How is Pantech's new device different from Apple's iPad? To find out, just add water.

By Caitlin Keating, reporter

Pantech Element waterproof tablet

FORTUNE -- Your tablet can now go with you for a walk in the rain. Korean phone maker Pantech has developed the Element, which it claims is the first waterproof tablet available in the U.S. The device, which operates on Google's Android platform, is specially cloaked in a plastic sheet made of polycarbonate. The result is a sort of high-tech equivalent of the blister pack typically used to package another kind of tablet. Other water-resistant devices use a silicone ring to keep protective plastic in place, a technique that can add bulk. The Element, which has a smaller display than the iPad, weighs about a pound. Pantech says the touchscreen, speaker, and microphone are all waterproof, which means you can spill without causing damage. But because the Element's screen responds to human touch, it won't work if your hands are covered with gloves -- or submerged in liquid. So while you can use this tablet in the tub, don't try swiping or typing underwater.

This article is from the March 19, 2012 issue of Fortune.

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