Panasonic unveiled the Toughpad FZ-A1, a 10-inch tablet and the first in its Toughpad family of Google Android-powered tablets designed for highly mobile outdoor workers in conditions like aviation, construction, field service and public safety. Panasonic said it would add a 7-inch tablet to the Toughpad range in the second half of 2012.
The FZ-A1, introduced Nov. 7, has a high brightness, 10.1-in XGA, capacitive multitouch, daylight-viewable screen with an anti-glare coating, an active digitizer that records pressure, direction and speed along with the signature, so the signing of a document has greater legal authority. In addition, the battery is replaceable, ensuring mid-life battery upgrades. The 10-in. Toughpad will be available in Europe in the spring of 2012 for about $1,175 for the standard model and $1,380 for the 3G model.
The Toughpad family is designed to meet the same durability standards as the company's Toughbook laptop product line. The FZ-A1 has a military standard (MIL-STD) 810G rating for 4-foot drops as well as an IP65 ingress protection rating for resistance to dust and water. The FZ-A1 is also rated for use in extreme temperatures. The range of tablets will be supported by an ecosystem that includes a range of work accessories, such as vehicle mounting and ergonomic hands-free holsters. Panasonic and its partners said they would also provide professional services such as project management, imaging and kitting.
The CPU in the FZ-A1 incorporates a dedicated, tamper-proof, security processor, which frees up the multi-purpose CPU core for other tasks. The security CPU core handles software and data encryption, enhanced VPN, authentication, trusted boot and device management. This enhanced level of device security means the system-on-a-chip family of Toughpads will be compliant with FIPS 140-2 level 2. The tablet offers as standard Bluetooth v2.1 + EDR, 802.11a/b/g/n WiFi, GPS and optional 3G mobile broadband offering up to 21M bps download speeds.
"Consumers have enjoyed tablet computing for a number of years now with almost no uptake in the workplace due to fundamental design limitations. Now, users in business and industry can also benefit from the ease of use and portability of tablet computing," Hiroaki Sakamoto, managing director of Panasonic Computer Products Europe, said in a statement. "Toughpad takes all the Toughbook experience of rugged computing we have gained since 1996 and focuses it into tablets designed for the workplace."
Earlier this year, the company introduced the Toughbook C1, a lightweight 12.1-inch convertible tablet notebook. The new version comes equipped with a 320GB base hard drive, up to 12 hours of battery life, 2GB RAM (expandable to 8GB) and an increased Intel Core i5-2520M vPro processor (2.50GHz with Turbo Boost up to 3.2GHz). The notebook is able to withstand drops from approximately 30 inches, and comes with a battery life of 12 hours (with optional second battery), enabled by a hot-swappable twin battery design.