Panasonic have announced the world’s first 3:2 aspect ratio, fully rugged 2-in-1 detachable laptop as its latest addition to the Toughbook family of products, the Toughbook CF-33.
What I find interesting about Panasonic is just how tough their rugged devices actually are, this one is and IP65 rating and drop resistant up to 120cm making it ideal for all outdoor usage. IP65 means that it is protected from total dust ingress and from low pressure water jets from any direction.
Panasonic are unique in that they only supply one laptop for testing. For instance there are 26 drop tests (Flat on the front and back, and then on each side and corner straight and at an angle to the left and right). Once it’s passed the drop tests it then gets the dust and water tests along with heat and cold. Other manufacturers often supply a separate device for each test (e.g. 26 devices which are each dropped once etc).
Panasonic are confident enough to put just one device through the entire test process and the CF-33, Panasonic’s 7th generation rugged Toughbook laptop, is the culmination of 20 years of innovation in rugged PC design and manufacturing.
The larger 12” display design with 3:2 aspect ratio – somewhere between the old 3:4 display and a widescreen, is designed to better fit the applications customers are likely to use. It offers the best of all worlds for mobile workers – a fully rugged laptop with detachable keyboard and larger display tablet that can be used in multiple modes to meet a variety of business needs. The CF-33 is designed for outdoor use in bright sunlight or heavy rain and suitable for workers that need to operate touchscreens with gloves.
The other thing that makes Panasonic stand out is the number and type of ports on offer. There’s a real serial port (RS232 that engineers will love as it’s been eradicated on practically every other laptop available today) as well as USB 3.0, USB 2.0, LAN, Serial, HDMI, SD-XC, VGA, HDMI, LAN, micro SD-XC and headset ports. Additional tablet configuration options include second USB 2.0 port, Serial, Barcode Reader, Smartcard Reader, Contactless Smart Card Reader and Fingerprint Reader.
Cost of ownership
There is always a classic dilemma between power, ruggedness, size and weight but Panasonic have packed an Intel i5 processor in along with Windows 10 Pro, although the device fully supports Windows 7 for companies that prefer to downgrade which is one of Panasonic’s best qualities. They know that companies don’t want to constantly renew hardware and so support product for at least five years after the last ship date.
It does make me wonder why we accept such flimsy devices such as smartphones where the screen cracks the first time it’s dropped. Gorilla glass is the defacto standard, but next time you spot someone with a broken mobile screen think of Panasonic. Smartphones might be fashion accessories as well as business tools, but we’ve been conditioned into buying a replacement every one or two years. It used to be like that with computers and Windows, but at the turn of the century the Y2K bug scare put all upgrades on hold and companies realised that they could get longer life from their IT investments.
You may not need fully rugged laptops in your business, but consider how devices will be used and the likely lifespan you could get from them. There are plenty of cheap laptops on the market, but could investing in something slightly more expensive be cheaper in the long run instead of replacements and upgrades every year or so?
The Panasonic Toughbook CF-33 comes with a standard 3 year warranty and will be available in 2nd Quarter of 2017. The Toughbook CF-33 2-in-1 detachable laptop model will be priced at £2,627 + vat, and the Toughbook CF-33 Tablet only model will be priced at £2,213 + vat .