Panasonic is gearing up to revamp a pair of its rugged Toughbook notebooks to include the latest Intel processors, as well as new management features and technologies more typically found in commercial offerings from Dell and Hewlett-Packard.
However, the updated notebooks still feature the rugged characteristics that make Panasonic Toughbooks a unique but pricy alternative in the enterprise notebook market.
Many of the latest upgrades-including moving to updated hardware such as the newer Intel Centrino 2 mobile platform with the chip maker's vPro management and security technology-are beneficial to any user, whether in a stolid office or working in a hazardous environment.
Panasonic's Toughbook 30 rugged laptop sells for $3,649, compared with $3,749 for the Panasonic Toughbook 19 convertible tablet notebook.
The updated Panasonic Toughbook 30 laptop is powered by an Intel Core 2 Duo SL9300 processor running a 1.6GHz processor and offers a maximum of 4GB of DDR2 (double date rate 2) RAM and a 160GB SATA (Serial ATA) shock-mounted hard disk drive.
The Panasonic Toughbook 19 tablet features the same 4GB of main memory and hard disk drive storage capacity as the Toughbook 30, but this laptop is paired with a low-volt Intel Core 2 Duo SU9300 chip running at 1.2GHz. In addition, Panasonic has incorporated touch-screen capabilities into the display of the Toughbook 30.
Other improvements that Panasonic has included with both notebooks include larger-capacity hard drives and batteries that add 40 percent longer battery life, as well as expanded memory capabilities and improved security and remote management that comes with Intel's vPro technology, a chip bundle that makes managing and securing PCs easier.
Both Toughbook laptops include Bluetooth and 802.11a/b/g and draft-n wireless technologies, and Panasonic has also added support for Qualcomm's Gobi 3G broadband technology. These capabilities are meant to show that Panasonic's Toughbooks can offer the same type of enterprise features found in the commercial notebooks from HP and Dell.
There are also adjustments that play directly to the core audience for Toughbooks: people who work in strenuous environments, including firefighters and emergency first responders, construction contractors and others who perform fieldwork, and military personnel.
As these jobs frequently require outdoor work, the improved Toughbooks offer up to 1,000 nits' worth of LCD brightness, circular polarization technology, and a combination of anti-glare and anti-reflective treatments to keep screen images clear, even in direct sunlight. Panasonic also claims the improved screen visibility has no drain on battery life, so the devices are able to deliver 10 hours of life on a full charge.
Should screen brightness be a liability-such as during military or law-enforcement operations-both laptops feature a "concealed mode" that turns the screen and LED lights off with the tap of a function key.