Panasonic re-entered the local market officially not long ago and since then they have been quick to make inroads. To cater for diverse consumer needs, they unveiled some interesting products two weeks ago. Out of all the products launched two caught my eye: rugged computers. Yeah you heard me right. Rugged computers: the sort that can do more than just sit around your desk and be bossed around in bags. For Panasonic, these fall under its Toughbook line of devices.
Panasonic has three classes in its Toughbook range: fully ruggedized, semi ruggedized and business ruggedized. The CF-53 and the CF 31 are part of the semi-ruggedized range and is therefore balanced between durability and performance.
Here’s a quick look at the Toughbook CF-53 and the CF-31.
The Toughbook CF-53 has a 14-inch display, and while the 1,366-by-768 resolution won’t be winning it any awards, it is readable in direct sunlight, and a preinstalled film protects the display from scratches and is replaceable by the user. Its spill-resistant keyboard offers a fairly comfortable typing experience, but the touchpad is small (2.0 by 3.2 inches) and the right and left mouse buttons are rubbery and stiff.
Even the AC adapter cable for the Toughbook CF-53 is ruggedized; with four inches of ribbed reinforcement on the plug end (most laptops use a half inch). Along the back and sides of the Toughbook CF-53 are several locking covers which conceal two USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, outputs for HDMI and VGA, a LAN connection, a SerialPort, and a optional card reader (SDXC).
A case lock slot lets you physically secure the laptop, and a tray loading optical drive lets you read and burn DVD-RW discs and CDs. On the right, behind a locking cover, is an empty Express Card slot, while on the left, secured with screws, is a cover for an optional Smart Card slot.
The CF53 has an Intel Core i5-3340M Processor, (2.7 MB cache, up to 3.4 GHz) with Intel Turbo Boost Technology, a memory of : 4 GB, DDR3 SDRAM (Expandable upto 16 GB Max.), a hard disk drive of 500GB, a 14 inch display (1366 × 768), runs Windows 8 out of the box but can be downgraded to Windows 7, a battery operating time of approx. 11 hours and a weight of approx. 2.65 kg.
The CF-31 on the other hand has a 3.3 GHz i5-3320M processor and weighs around 3.72 kgs, complete with a pull-out carrying handle on its front edge. The sides, bottom, and border of the lid are made of hard black plastic, with the lid and palm rest made of silver magnesium alloy. The handle has a hole and tether cable anchor to hold the plastic stylus for the touch screen.
The CF-31′s ports and pieces are hidden behind hinged doors or panels that snap shut with a secure click. On the Toughbook’s left side are the double-latched battery pack and a cupboard door revealing the modular DVD±RW drive; PC Card, ExpressCard, and Smart Card slots; and an SD memory card reader.
On the right are the removable 500GB and HDMI, Ethernet, and two USB 2.0 ports plus the AC power connector. Two more USB 2.0 ports, a docking station connector, a VGA port, and headphone and microphone jacks are at the rear, along with a serial port.
The CF 31 has CPU: i5-3320M Processor (3 MB cache, up to 3.3 GHz) with Intel® Turbo Boost Technology, a memory of 4GB*1, DDR3 Low Voltage (Expandable upto 8 GB Max.), a hard disk drive of 500 GB (Serial ATA) /5,400 rpm, a display method of 13.1″, XGA 1024 x 768, Circular Polarizer, an operating system of Windows 8: Downgradable to Windows 7, a battery operating time of approx. 14.5 hours and a weight of approx 3.72kg (Approx 8.2 lb.).
The Toughbook CF-31 on the other hand is a sturdy solution for vertical markets that demand maximum durability in a desktop replacement.
If these two machines are something that you’ll be interested in having then you can drop by Panasonic’s megastore and show room at Panasonic Plaza and in dealers around the city to have a look since they’re rare and fit specific needs for instance tough industrial environments and the like. These two machines have been around in the computing world for a while but if you are in Kenya and East Africa now, it is easier to order one for yourself or your enterprise.