Panasonic Toughbook Line Includes Tablet, Ultraportable Notebook

Panasonic is looking to upgrade its line of Toughbook notebooks to encompass several new laptops, including a new ultraportable PC and a tablet all based on new Intel processors. While not as prominent as HP, Dell or Lenovo, Panasonic has been trying to position its Toughbook notebooks as an alternative laptop for everyday business use as well as for vertical markets such as government and health care.

Panasonic is updating its line of Toughbook notebooks to include a new ultraportable laptop and tablet that will feature some of the latest Intel processors, including a low-volt model.

While not entrenched in the enterprise like Hewlett-Packard, Dell or Lenovo, Panasonic is trying to expand its rugged Toughbook notebook lineup beyond its primary use as a laptop for the military and specific markets such as law enforcement. These Toughbooks, which will be available in November, are geared toward general business use as well as vertical markets such as government and health care.

Panasonic has also shown a willingness to innovate and bring its Toughbook line into new areas. In June, the company revealed a Toughbook CF-U1, which uses an Intel Atom processor - the Atom Z520. This ultraportable PC provides decent battery life and is designed for specific markets such as real estate, government and health care.

Although the CF-1U and the other models that Panasonic rolled out Sept. 25 do not have the military-grade specifications used in more traditional Toughbooks, these laptops have incorporated some of those features such as shock-mounted hard disk drive, magnesium alloy casing and even the briefcase handle found in the more full-sized, rugged laptops.

These rugged features are incorporated into the Panasonic Toughbook F8, which is a 14-inch, business-standard laptop. At 3.7 pounds, the F8 is much lighter than a more traditional Toughbook and will make it easier to bring onto an airplane. The Toughbook F8 also includes the Intel Core 2 Duo SP9300 (2.26GHz), up to 4GB of SDRAM (synchronous dynamic RAM) and a 160GB hard disk drive. Other features include a lithium-ion battery that offers six hours of battery life and the F8 uses Qualcomm's Gobi 3G WWAN (wireless WAN) broadband technology.

Panasonic is also bringing an ultraportable notebook into the market in the form of the Toughbook W8, which features a 12.1-inch display but has the same Intel Core 2 Duo processor and SDRAM configuration as the Toughbook F8. The W8, which weighs three pounds, offers a 120GB HDD and Panasonic said its ultraportable PC will deliver seven hours of battery life.

Finally, Panasonic will bring a tablet into the market with the Toughbook T8. The Panasonic tablet has a 12.1-inch, tough-screen display. For the processor, Panasonic will provide an Intel Core 2 Duo SU9300, a low-volt chip that has a 1.2GH clock speed. The tablet offers up to 4GB of SDRAM and a 120GB HDD. The T8 tablet offers seven hours of battery life and incorporates 3G WWAN technology.

Panasonic will charge a premium for incorporating rugged features into these laptops. The Toughbook W8 and T8 will start at $2,099, while the Toughbook F8 starts at $2,499. The Panasonic Toughbook F8 now replaces the older Toughbook Y7, according to Panasonic.

Editor's Note: This story was updated to clarify that the Panasonic Toughbook F8 only replaces the Y7 in the company's notebook lineup.