Panasonic debuts 7in Toughpad tablet with Core i5 power

Panasonic has launched a ruggedised Windows 8.1 Pro tablet designed for users within the logistics, transportation, retailing, manufacturing, government and emergency services sectors.

The Toughpad FZ-M1 has a portable 7in form factor and weighs in at 540g. The WXGA device has a 1280 x 800 resolution, which may not make it the sharpest, but it does have a maximum brightness of 500cd/m2. A built-in anti-reflection coating and wide viewing angles also make the device ideal for outdoor use.

Another key differentiator between the Toughpad and consumer tablets is the processing power. Panasonic is the first vendor to use a fanless Intel high-power Core i5-4302Y vPro in a 7in tablet and combine it with 4GB of RAM (8GB optional). The firm is also offering up a 128GB SSD (256GB optional).

Despite packing a powerful chip into the device, the energy consumption of 4.5 Watts means Panasonic is touting an eight hour battery life, with a two hour recharge time. The manufacturer also says the device can be setup to have a hot swappable battery using the configurable port options.

In terms of design, the Toughpad FZ-M1 has been drop tested to 1.5 metres. It's also got an IP65 ingress protection rating for resistance to dust and water and it will operate in temperatures between -10 to +50C.

Panasonic is offering businesses the ability to configure devices too. A 'business expansion module' adds a raft of features, including - a Mini-Serial, LAN and NFC connectivity, a Smartcard Reader, 1D/2D Barcode Reader, UHF RFID and aforementioned battery hot swap capabilities, to the device. It's also possible to integrate 4G connectivity, GPS and vehicle pass through antenna.

Standard ports include a full-size USB 3.0, Micro SD, Headset, DC-In and micro SIM. Accessories for the tablet will include a desktop cradle, vehicle dock, multi battery charger, shoulder, hand and rotate straps, carry cases and a passive pen.

The Toughpad FZ-M1 will be available from February 2014 at a starting price of 1,183.

Panasonic plans to launch a 'lite' version with Windows 8.1, which will be powered by an Intel Celeron processor available in mid-2014. The lite version will feature the Windows 8.1 operating system.

Khidr Suleman is the Technical Editor at IT Pro, a role he has fulfilled since March 2012. He is responsible for the reviews section on the site  - so get in touch if you have a product you think might be of interest to the business world. He also covers the hardware and operating systems beats. Prior to joining IT Pro, Khidr worked as a reporter at Incisive Media. He studied law at the University of Reading and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism and Online Writing at PMA Training.