Panasonic Toughbook H2 Rugged Tablet Aids Exam Room Medication Tracking

Panasonic's rugged Toughbook H2 features military-grade durability to survive drops and resist contamination from water and dust while providing easy portability for clinicians in hospitals.

Panasonic Solutions has introduced a new rugged handheld tablet, the Toughbook H2, for first responders, hospital clinicians and field workers.

Panasonic Solutions is the division of Panasonic for government and commercial enterprises.

This latest Toughbook features a second-generation Intel Core i5-2557M vPro processor, which operates at 1.7GHz (with Turbo Boost, up to 2.7GHz) to deliver improved processing speed and enhanced device management, according to Panasonic.

"The Toughbook H2 is an ideal device for health care environments," Kyp Walls, director of product management for Panasonic Solutions, wrote in an email to eWEEK. "The [unit] will help to maximize workflow and ease clinical loads for doctors and nurses, allowing them to access patient records at the point of care and document a patient's condition in real time."

In hospitals and doctor's offices, a software utility included with the unit can provide reminders to wipe down the tablet at certain time intervals. In addition, the unit lacks a fan, a measure that can prevent germs from spreading from patient to patient, Walls noted.

A barcode reader can track medication use, a feature called BCMA (barcode medication administration). The tablet also captures vital patient information as well as retrieves and displays EHRs (electronic health records).

For outdoor workers, the unit's 10.1-inch display incorporates Panasonic's TransflectivePlus, a technology that reflects sunlight and uses it as a backlight.

A circular polarizer as well as anti-glare and anti-reflective screen treatments allow for easier outdoor viewing for construction workers and first responders. The sun actually enhances the viewability of the screen, according to Walls.

Users can input data on the dual-touch display using finger or stylus. The stylus allows for signature capture in industries such as health care or shipping.

Unlike the Android model for business road warriors announced on June 16 to compete against the RIM BlackBerry PlayBook, the Toughbook H2 runs Windows 7.

The unit comes with 4GB of RAM, which is expandable to 8GB. A 128GB solid-state drive is an option, but the unit comes standard with a 320GB hard drive.

Announced on July 12, the 3.5-pound Toughbook H2 delivers 6.5 hours of battery life, and with twin hot-swappable batteries users can work for unlimited periods of time, according to Panasonic. To extend battery life, an ambient light sensor on the screen turns off the backlight when it senses sunlight. It charges 40 percent faster than its H1 predecessor, Walls said.

The Toughbook H2 costs around $3,449 and will be available by the end of July.

Panasonic recently upgraded the features on a couple of other models, the Toughbook 19 convertible tablet and the Toughbook C1 tablet with up to 12 hours of battery life.

Like many rugged mobile devices, the Toughbook H2 meets military standards on durability. It can survive 6-foot drops to hard surfaces as well as exposure to dust and sprayed water. In addition, the unit can withstand temperatures of -20 degrees to 140 degrees Fahrenheit.

Wireless connectivity includes WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, RFID, 4G and 3G. It integrates a Qualcomm Gobi2000 3G mobile broadband antenna.

A biometric fingerprint scanner is optional.