Panasonic Rugged Toughbook 19 Tablet PC Gets CPU, Display Upgrades

Panasonic updates its rugged Toughbook 19 tablet by adding a new Intel Core i5-2520M standard voltage CPU and an internal reflective layer for outdoor viewing.

Panasonic Solutions Company, which provides IT and collaborative tools to government and commercial businesses, has upgraded its Toughbook 19 convertible tablet, completing an overhaul of its line for harsh working environments.

The Toughbook 19 is designed for use by utilities, public-safety first responders, and maintenance and field service workers.

Although this model has been available for five years, the June 9 relaunch brought an overhaul to the Toughbook 19's CPU, display and storage capabilities.

Panasonic has doubled the processing power of the unit, adding an Intel Core i5-2520M vPro (2.5GHz) standard voltage processor with Intel HD 3000 graphics. A standard voltage CPU boosts performance without a drop in battery life, while providing the extra processing power to run graphics-intensive video and other applications faster, according to Panasonic.

The Toughbook 19 comes with a 128GB or 256GB solid-state drive with no moving parts.

"The rugged Toughbook 19 convertible tablet has been on the market for five years, providing reliable connectivity to users in some of the most demanding environments, including emergency services and utilities," Kyp Walls, Panasonic's director of product management, said in a statement. "With the new Intel processor and enhanced functionality, our users will benefit from improved performance and outdoor screen visibility without sacrificing battery life."

For outdoor workers, Panasonic added an internal reflecting layer, called TransflectivePlus, to its 10.1-inch XGA touch-screen to keep the screen illuminated in sunlight. The screen has anti-reflective and anti-glare features as well as a circular polarizing filter. By reducing the LCD's reflection, the notebook is able to reduce power consumption and enhance battery life to nine hours while running Windows 7.

For users in the military or intelligence fields who may need to conceal their use, the LED backlight can be dimmed to 1 nit for undetected nighttime use. This feature could be essential to the safety of military and public-sector users, according to Panasonic.

Also for workers in the field, the unit now features Panasonic CircuLumin technology, which allows for full-circle viewability from the brightest sunlight to pitch darkness. In addition, the screen can be rotated from laptop to tablet mode using one hand.

The Toughbook 19 has a 6-foot drop rating, making it more accident-resistant for workers in extreme environments such as the military and construction. The touch-screen is dual-touch, so users can input by hand or stylus.

Panasonic also adds a revamped dashboard with quick-launch buttons to adjust brightness, volume and tablet button backlighting.

Authorized resellers will begin selling the new Toughbook in September for $3,349.

Incorporating the optional Qualcomm Gobi2000 broadband module, Panasonic has certified the Toughbook 19 for 3G connectivity on several carriers, including AT&T, Sprint and Verizon Wireless. The manufacturer will add 4G LTE (Long-Term Evolution) wireless certification later this year.

On May 25, Panasonic announced an upgrade to another rugged model, the $3,299 Toughbook 31 clamshell laptop, which also is marketed to workers in harsh working environments. It runs the Intel Core i5 and i3 CPUs, and has a battery life of up to 20 hours.

"The rugged reliability and improved performance of the Toughbook 19 and 31 will provide personnel, including mobile workers in EMS, law enforcement, the military, utilities, oil and gas, and field service with an ideal solution for their mission-critical operations," Walls wrote in an email to eWEEK.

Although the units are durable for extreme environments, for use in health care, Panasonic recommends using only wipe versions of cleaners rather than spraying liquids.