Panasonic 20in ToughPad: Useful tool or oversized novelty?

From the 20in size, through to the 2.35kg weight and 4,000 price, there's nothing minuscule about the 4K ToughPad.

Whilst portable, you will find yourself scrapping door-frames and leaving triangular bruises on colleagues and pedestrians should you choose to lug it around.

Most people I asked thought I was walking around with a 99 Freeview TV from Argos. This may not be an intentional disguise on Panasonic's part but it helps to mask the actual value of the device.

The ToughPad represents a budget soak-up exercise.

The Specs

Sold under the "ToughPad" brand, the device is drop-resistant from 2.5 feet, but with 20ins of glass on the front, every little bump and scratch will provide a heart-in-mouth moment.

We used the lower-range specification, with an Intel Core i5 CPU running Windows 8.1 Pro on a tantalising 3840 x 2560 10-point touch panel. There's a docking accessory with a nice little kick-stand on the back, allowing it to be placed on any flat surface - because your thigh muscles won't be able to prop it up for long.

The high-end version deploys an i7 CPU and Nvidia GeForce 745M graphics card, making it better suited for complex workloads. It's also got a camera, though it's unlikely to be deployed too often.

Use Cases

Of course the 4K screen is the main attraction, with Panasonic hoping to generate interest from video producers, photographers and architects.

Even sales people are touted as potential users. And to be fair, the 20in tablet wouldn't look out-of-place in a Porsche showroom providing the ability to let potential buyers tinker with colours and interior designs before they nonchalantly drop 100,000.

With the server monitoring and analytics marketplace growing due to the explosion of VMs in public and hybrid clouds, the ToughPad also has the potential to lend itself to systems management due to the size and clarity of the screen. It's far easier to load up multiple real-time charts and interact with them via finger or pen input on a 20in device than it is on a regular laptop.

Who's going to buy it?

It's clear a 4,000 20in tablet is going to be a novelty for most. Exceptions are enterprises with near-unlimited IT funds. I am referring to the types who get themselves whatever is on top of the pile, in cost terms, round about the end of every budgetary year.

For these large corporations, the ToughPad represents a budget soak-up exercise, and ticks the boxes when it comes to visible consumption.

Perhaps take-up of products like this is the next indicator of the end of the recession in some sectors not because they need the ultra high resolution, not because they are put off by the comparatively short battery life but because they want to have people recognise their spending power.