Panasonic have unveiled their latest TOUGHBOOK 55 with a press launch in Twickenham, UK, which was live streamed to Japan, the home of Panasonic. The new TOUGHBOOK 55 is largely aimed at markets such as automotive, medical and law enforcement, but at the same time is interesting due to it’s modularity and ease of upgrading in the field setting a new standard for laptop manufacturers around the world.
The semi-rugged TOUGHBOOK 55 notebook is a slim and lightweight design aiming to achieve two purposes – improve productivity of workers and deliver the maximum return on investment for businesses through modular upgradability.
The Panasonic TOUGHBOOK 55 clamshell notebook allows users to boost graphics capabilities, add a smartcard reader, additional storage or a DVD or Blu-Ray drive with a simple switch, fit and click of the new functionality into the TOUGHBOOK Universal Bay. In addition, a front expansion slot can be used to quickly integrate a fingerprint reader, RFID or regular smart card reader or for the addition of a second battery.
At purchase, buyers can also customise 3 additional ports for the device using its expansion slot, VGA, True Serial and one from a choice of 4th USB, 2nd GLAN or Rugged USB 2.0.
As an additional security measure, the SSD hard drive can also be removed, essential for users such as the MOD if they should need to return a device for warranty repair (a rare event for TOUGHBOOKs but they do come with a free three year warranty). However with the growing concerns over data protection being able to easily remove a hard drive (in the field if required) means that when the laptop reaches the end of it’s life it’s simple to guarantee that it is sanitised with no data left on the device.
The TOUGHBOOK 55 is also one of the first notebooks in the market including a new advanced security platform which makes it a modern Windows 10 Pro device with hardware, software, and identity protection fully-enabled out of the box.
Where the laptop really comes into it’s own is the modularity – different businesses have different requirements so if battery life is your main need you can insert a second battery gaining up to 40 hours battery life before you need to charge the unit. If you need to add features such as a DVD/Blue Ray drive, a smart card reader or fingerprint scanner this can be done in the field and doesn’t even require a reboot. Panasonic will even work with third party suppliers who can build their own modules for the device so that in future years if a business has a specific requirement (perhaps a device to read data from cars) this can be built and created.
In truth, the TOUGHBOOK 55 doesn’t come with the very latest processors (we’ll have to wait for the next generation for this) so in some way’s it’s already outdated, but to balance this it’s rugged design and modularity means that this launch delivers a robust notebook that’s future proofed and upgradeable and, as business needs evolve, the simple addition of a new module in the Universal Bay can extend the life of the notebook.
Our hope is that in the future the functionality will creep down to non-rugged design from other manufacturers. There was once a time when just about every feature of a laptop was removable whereas now they’re generally built into the motherboard. This means that laptops are an environmental disaster and generally scrapped if something breaks – on many not even the DVD drive is removable these days. If all laptops aped the modular design of the TOUGHBOOK 55 then their lifespan would be increased immeasurably.
Panasonic TOUGHBOOK 55 pricing
The TOUGHBOOK 55 cost comes in at £1,772 plus VAT and the various modules are reasonably priced adding just a few hundred pounds to the purchase cost.
Panasonic TOUGHBOOK 55 Module Pricing
|Finger Print Reader
|HR RFID Reader (NFC)
|Smart card reader (In Selectable Gadget)
|VGA x1, Serial x1, USB3.0 x1
|VGA x1, Serial x1, 2nd GLAN x1
|VGA x1, Serial x1, Rigid USB2.0 x1
|Selectable Universal Bay
|Smart Card Reader (in Universal Bay)