How tough is your laptop? Can it handle bad weather and rough use?
Panasonic didn’t have a strong presence in laptop/PC market which was dominated by Dells, HPs and Lenovos and Sony. But Panasonic is looking to change that. Focusing on a niche market for rugged notebooks, Panasonic has launched a series of notebooks with very rugged body. Panasonic toughbooks are ideal for those involved in heavy outdoor activities- doctors who travel to medical camps, army and law enforcement agencies, explorers, engineers who visit construction/ manufacturing /medical sites and so on.
I had an opportunity to see Panasonic Toughbooks during a bloggers meet held at Panasonic Experience Centre, Mumbai few months ago. Eventually I got a review unit which I could use for sometime and return. During my festive travel, I took it around and it was very useful. Below review is based my experience of using the toughbook. I didn't subject it to destruction testing though...
As the name suggests, toughbook comes with a body which is far more rugged than your regular laptop. As you can see in the pictures, all ports (USB, LAN, Monitor and so on) which are usually left open in a regular netbook, is covered in Panasonic toughbook. This gives the components protection from dust, moisture and heat. The casing as such is reinforced, for rough and tough usage. This increases the thickness of the unit, but in turn makes it carriable without any need for a separate carry case/bag.
Dell had a XPS series which was rugged, but current XPS series is more for high performance usage than the outdoor adventure. Panasonic toughbook comes with a flexible handle, using which one can carry it like a briefcase.
Toughbook is said to have been tested for 76cm free fall test, has a spill resistant keyboard, 10 hour battery, 14" bright display and 3 year warranty, not usually found in other notebooks. It can survive wide temperature range.
Software in Panasonic toughbook is Windows 7. Nothing extra ordinary in this section. Toughbooks come with intel i5 or i3 processors, decent RAM and Hard disc space. I found basic games and entertainment stuff missing-but that isn’t usually needed for this kind of product and of course can be added later.
Another unique feature is Dual Antenna Pass kit for in vehicle use. I didn't explore this feature fully.
Toughbook is not waterproof like the Panasonic Lumix FT3. Also on the downside there're no fancy features like fingerprint reader/camera/keypad backlight and so on. But then, these features are not essential for industrial usage. If there's a need I am sure Panasonic can add it on demand. Toughbook doesn't miss out on the essentials like card reader, DVD drive, wifi and so on.
Price of Panasonic toughbook range will be on higher side (close to a lakh rupees). It can’t compete with home/office laptops. But for industrial/military/outdoor use, toughbook is an ideal companion.
Below are some snaps comparing Panasonic toughbook with few other notebook models- a Dell Latitude and Lenovo G550. Toughbook is a bit smaller, thicker but more robust.
Similar posts: My older post of laptop reviews * Panasonic Camcorder SDRH101 Review * Sony DSC H50 Review *
March 2012 Update: Read another interesting piece on Panasonic toughbook at Panasonic Blog