Review: Panasonic Toughbook CF-19 – sturdy mobile computing

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panasonic_toughbook.jpgThe propaganda

If you’re the sort person that can’t keep a handle on technology, literally, then Panasonic’s sturdy Toughbook could be just the laptop for you. It can take the odd knock here and there without a problem and it’s water and dust resistant too.

All the protective layers add to the bulk, but if extreme computing is your thing, then it could be just what you need.

The good

The Toughbook feels immensely solid – like everything is protected not once or twice, but three or four times. All sockets and connectors around the edge are plugged or blocked off with protective flaps and the hard drive has shock protection. It feels a bit like, if necessary, it could take a bullet for you and still carry on going.

Despite being a tablet PC, the single screen attachment feels very solid and not weak as it can on some models. The screen isn’t too reflective, which is welcome for a stylus sensitive display.

The bad

While its exterior is extremely strong, it’s a bit weak when it comes to the insides. The 1.06GHz Core Duo U2400 could really be with being a bit faster and 512MB of RAM is a bit stingy these days. Software wise, it’s running XP Tablet PC edition, rather than Vista.

The keyboard feels a bit cramped – not doubt squeezed in by various protective devices all round and the touchpad is slow to respond to input.

There’s also no denying it’s bulky – measuring nearly 5cm thick and weighing around 2.25kg.

Geek Sheet

Processor: 1.06GHz Intel Core Duo U2400

RAM: 512MB DDR2

Graphics: up to 128MB (shared) integrated Intel 945GM

Display: 10.4in, 1,024×768

Drives: 80GB hard drive

Ports and connections: 2 x USB, 1 x Firewire, modem, network, VGA, serial, headphone, microphone, SD card, 802.11b/g Wi-Fi

Dimensions and weight: 271x216x49mm, 2.25kg

Overview

A machine like the Toughbook is designed for a demanding environment – one where a normal laptop would just crumble. People in the market for a device like this are more likely to be concerned that it keeps going, rather than how much it cost.

Which is probably just as well, as it comes in at £1,979, which is a lot of money if you’re just looking at its base configuration. But if you need something to rely on in harsh conditions, then it’s more than up to the job.

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Related sites: Panasonic Toughbook CF-19

Will Head