Panasonic has refreshed its popular Toughbook devices to make them stronger, lighter and has also offered increased customisation options for enterprises.
Officially classed as "semi-rugged" - the CF-54 is certified to the common MIL-STD 810G rating. This means it can withstand drops from 76cm and the entire device (display and keyboard) is spill resistant.
Panasonic continues to use Magnesium for the casing but has debuted an eye-catching Honeycomb structure to increase strength and flexibility. The CF-54 can withstand 20kg of pressure on a single point and up to 100kg if it's evenly distributed.
The CF-54 has a starting weight of 1.99kg and a thickness of 30mm. It retains the trademark handle allowing it to be carried as a briefcase.
There's plenty of power on offer. The 14in Toughbook ships with Intel's latest 5th Gen (Broadwell) Core processor, including support for remote management with vPro technology and room for up to 16GB of RAM. An optional AMD FirePro M5100 graphics card can also be integrated for users needing high-end visual performance on the move.
Screen resolutions start at 1366 x 768 but can be increased to 1920 x 1080, and a capacitive touchscreen is optional with the full HD model. Displays include an anti-reflective coating and offer a maximum brightness of up to 1000 cd/m2, making them optimal for outdoor use. Touchscreen sensitivity can be increased so it will work with thick workman gloves.
Toughbook pricing (all ex VAT) & use cases
CF-54 HD (500GB HDD) 1142
CF-54 full HD (128GB SSD) 1325
CF-54 full HD with Touchscreen (128GB SSD) 1662
Designed primarily for use by field workers and automotive engineers, Panasonic is looking to expand into the insurance, construction and government industries with the latest range.
Battery life and customisation
Two of the biggest selling points of the Toughbook are the longevity and ability to customise products to meet the requirements of a particular business.
Panasonic quotes up to 11 hours of battery life using the default power cell (4200mAh) and a maximum of 18 hours if users choose to incorporate the second battery (2960mAh). There is also a bridge battery available - so power units can be hot-swapped.
Mark Thorne, head of business at Panasonic emphasised the efforts the firm goes to when developing the Toughbook range.
"We optimise the thermal and power management of the whole unit," he said during the launch event.
"All the other companies take standard motherboards [but] we have approval from Intel to do adjustments down to the motherboard leveland this allows us to reach good coverage for a day shift..and if it's required, longer."
You'll find all the standard interfaces including 3 x USB 3.0 ports, an RJ-45 jack, HDMI, VGA, True Serial and a Port Replicator connections.
There's a configurable port, which can be used to add a second RJ-45 jack, another USB port, rugged USB (for automotive/healthcare customers) or embed GPS into the device.
A second configuration area can be used to house a second battery, Smart Card Reader or DVD drive.
Further options include the ability to integrate a Contactless Smart Card Reader or Fingerprint scanner and 4G connectivity (up to 100Mbps).
All Toughbooks include a 3-year warranty covering hardware failures and a 5-year spare part guarantee with a 96-hour repair commitment. Additional warranties can be purchased to cover accidental damage and specific components like the battery and hard drive.
The devices are offered with Windows 8.1 Pro as standard, but users can downgrade to Windows 7 Professional. Panasonic plans to start shipping the devices at the end of February.
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