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REVIEW: Panasonic Toughbook CF - C2

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With the tablet market booming, it's no longer just traditional office employees that have laptops and tablets in the workplace.

We've written before about ruggedised tablets being adopted in certain working environments, for example Panasonic Toughpads are now used for producing documents in the aviation industry.

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The Panasonic Toughbook CF - C2 is a semi-rugged hybrid device that can be used as both a laptop and a tablet.

The screen rotates and flattens to become a tablet, with handy indicators to ensure that you know which direction to turn the screen in order to switch between the two modes. 

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I did manage to get my finger caught in the mechanism though, and since the device is quite bulky, it could cause some real damage if you're not careful.

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Keys on the keyboard are slightly smaller than I would have imagined for a rugged tablet, especially if the user is wearing protective gloves while using the device.

The laptop itself is quite heavy, but has a strap attached to the back to make it easier to hold and to ensure that it doesn't get dropped. It's in the perfect position for holding the laptop upright, but when in tablet mode it's not in a comfortable place, and would be a lot better if it was adjustable.

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The standard battery can last up to 14 hours due to reduced power consumption, with a higher capacity battery available to provide up to 19 hours of power, and the device also features a bridge battery so that a new battery can be swapped in without having to power down.

The 10-finger multi-touch display is made of strengthened glass and is efficient and accurate, but could become annoying if trying to touch smaller icons on such as button to close a window.

Specs at a glance:

Panasonic Toughbook CF - C2

    • Display: 12.4 inch HD Screen (1366x768)
    • OS: Windows 8.1 Pro
    • Camera: Front HD 720p, Rear 5 MP
    • Hard Drive: 500GB HDD standard and 128GB or 256GB SSD optional
    • Memory: 4GB RAM
    • Processor:  Intel® CoreTM i5-4300U Processor with Intel® Turbo Boost Technology


The device we had to test was running Windows 7, but would work very well with the Windows 8 OS, especially due to the touch screen capabilities and tablet orientation.

Where this devices really comes into its own is in its toughness:

We dropped it several times in testing of its rugged label, and it didn't break, bend or smash and worked perfectly afterwards. We even threw some water on it to see if it really does have a "water resistant keyboard and touchpad" and I'm pleased to say that the Toughbook came through completely unscathed and fully functioning, and would work well in a work situation where knocks and drops are likely. 

The Panasonic Toughbook CF - C2 is now available in the UK at a starting price of around £1441.

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CES 2014: Panasonic announce new Toughpad FZ-M1

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Panasonic's range of rugged devices has always been at the forefront of portable technology for rougher working environments, and it looks like the new Toughpad will be no different.

Toughpads have previously come in a range of sizes, including  7-inch, 10-inch and a massive 20-inch. The new Toughpad is a 7-inch model designed to be easily portable for people working in industries such as transport, retail and emergency services. With a 4th generation Intel Core i5 vPro processor, this fanless tablet is designed to provide high performance with low heat generation and power consumption.

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The Toughpad FZ-M1 weighs 540g and the strengthened glass houses an LCD touch screen with an anti-reflection layer to allow working inside and out. The touchscreen can also process up to ten finger touches at once. With optional business expansion models including NFC, smartcard reader and battery hotswap capabilities alongside the standard USB 3.0, headset and microSIM, the tablet can be adapted to suit the industry it is needed in. 

And now for the justification for its "tough" label: the tablet can be dropped from 5ft, heated to 50°C, cooled to -10°C and is dust and water resistant. It might not be massively pretty, but it does what it says on the tin.

Specs

Resolution: 1280x800

OS: Windows 8.1 Pro (Windows 7 version available)

Processor: 4th generation Intel Core i5 vPro

Memory: 4GB (8GB optional)

Dimensions: 7-inch tablet, 18mm depth

The Toughpad FZ-M1 is due to become available in February 2014 for a starting price of £1,183.

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British Airways deploys Panasonic Toughpads to help turnaround time for flights

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I was invited to take a flight to the Isle of Man with BA Cityflyer to see a demonstration of the Panasonic Toughpad, which is used for flights from London City Airport to keep tabs on flight data.

As our plane landed, a transfer of several paper documents occurred - one of the things this new innovation is working to reduce.

The Toughpad is essentially a more practical upgrade from the previous Panasonic Toughbook, and is used in combination with Electronic Technical Log (ETL) software from NVable to record and sign off flight and maintenance information.

The airline wanted something durable and practical. There can be no room for error of any kind during flights, especially hardware failure. The Toughpad meets these criteria, as not a single Toughbook or Toughpad device has been returned for repair in the years that BA has been using them. It also has better battery life and is 50% lighter than the Toughbook.

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Dave Cooper, line maintenance manager for BA CityFlyer, explained that there are mandatory documents that must be signed for every flight so that all of the people involved in the flight process know how many times an aircraft has flown and when checks need to occur.

The Toughpad and NVable ETL software allow this information to be entered via the tablet and immediately transmitted to the BA Cityflyer maintenance system so that engineers and flight crew can access the information. The quick availability of data has contributed to reduced turnaround times for flights, and also cuts down on mistakes made when information is transcribed from paper into digital systems.

When showing me the system, he pointed out the maintenance list for the plane we were on. Some of the items on the list had a bright yellow exclamation mark next to them - not the most comforting sight to see when in the air. He assured me that it just meant the plane would need examinations carried out later that day, information that had already been transmitted to the maintenance system.

Once we were safely back at City Airport, I asked the pilot Klaus Egge how the Toughpad had improved the data recording process. He admitted that the Toughpad method reduced human error, and that using the Toughpad in the cockpit is much more convenient than paper or the previous Toughbook.

He said that automatic functions, such as warning when inspections are due, are a great benefit of the new system. "In the past we'll have to check that manually by paper," he said. "It will be more accurate which is probably more important, the most beneficial part is that it will take away mistakes."

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CES 2013 HANDS ON: Panasonic's demonstration of its 4K 20-inch tablet prototype

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At CES in Las Vegas this week, Panasonic unveiled a tablet to be added to CES's growing category of super-size screens.

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Sitting more in the "table PC" category, than "tablet", this technology demonstration will hopefully be out later this year with a few tweaks here and there. But the 20-inch tablet impressed me more than Lenovo's Horizon 27-inch Table PC, also launched at the show this week. At only 2.4kg, it's still very weighty, but compare it to its rivals - the Sony Vaio Tap 20 is 5kg and Lenovo's Horizon is a whopping 8kg but only 7-inches bigger. I found the device easier to pick up, but I'm always quite delicate when I pick up devices of this size. When doing so I found the aluminium backing very elegant, but also very warm, a kink that Panasonic will most definitely sort out before mass production.

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Panasonic claim that the device has the thinnest body with a screen of this size. It has 2 hours of battery life and at the moment the company is thinking of marketing it to photographers, architects and designers who will appreciate the large screen super high resolution screen from an artistic point of view.

The Windows 8 Pro device set up in CES also came with a special handwriting digital pen which I had a go at using, it was very responsive and was able to create hair-thin lines to chunky paint brush type strokes. The device had a Intel i5 Core processor, 128GB SSD as well as 16GB of memory.

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Kyp Walls, director of product management, said that the device was set up to use Bluebeam software for architects using blueprints, it enabled users to collaborate together while working remotely. The device is still portable, he said, "because architects are used to carrying around big flat folders of designs anyway."

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CES 2013 HANDS ON: Panasonic Toughpad FZ-G1 and Toughpad JT-B1

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This week at CES in Las Vegas, Panasonic added to its line of rugged Toughpad tablets with the Windows 8 Pro 10.1-inch FZ-G1 and the Android 7-inch JT-BI.

Since 1996 Panasonic has been producing mobile computers for the mobile workforce who need to rely on a more study product that will resist dust, water, shocks when in use in the field. The two tablets join a 10.1-inch Android tablet which was broadly available last year.

Toughpads are designed for mobile workers in sectors such as military, government, construction, healthcare, public safety, utilities, retail, and maintenance to name a few.

The devices come with optional added extras such as heighten security features, electronic scanners and card readers. The new tablets are also splash proof and feature screens that are viewable in the sunlight, as well as being robust enough to survive drops and dust.

The Windows 8 Pro FZ-G1

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•             Operating System: Windows 8 Pro

•             Processor: 3rd Generation Intel Core i5-3437U vPro™ 1.9GHz up to 2.9GHz with Intel® Turbo Boost Technology

•             Memory: 128-256GB SSD, 4-8GB RAM, optional micro SDXC

•             Rugged: MIL-STD-810G, 4' drop, IP65, 14° to 122°F (operational temp range)

•             Display: 10.1", sunlight viewable, touch screen and active digitizer, 800nit, WUXGA (1920x1200)

•             Battery: 8.0 hours (user-replaceable)

•             Dimensions: 10.6" x 7.4" x 0.75"

•             Weight: 1.1kg

•             Wireless: Bluetooth V4.0, 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, optional embedded 4G LTE or 3G

•             I/O: Full size USB 3.0, HDMI, optional micro SDXC, Full size USB 2.0, wired LAN, true serial port or dedicated GPS.

Panasonic claims it will survive a 4 foot drop and it wouldn't surprise me as this device, despite its rugged and therefore very clunky look, is surprisingly light at just over a kilogram, easy enough to carry about.

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The FZ-G1 comes with a barcode scanner and the option of adding on e-card readers and other types of bespoke enterprise technology. Its battery is also replaceable if you run out of the included 8 hours.

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The Android 4.0 JT-B1

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•             Operating System: Android 4.0

•             Processor: TI OMAP4460 1.5GHz Dual core

•             Memory: 16GB ROM, 1GB RAM, micro SDHC

•             Rugged: MIL-STD-810G, 5' drop, IP65, 14° to 122°F (operational temp range)

•             Display: 7", daylight viewable, 500nit, WSVGA (1024 x 600)

•             Camera: Front: 1.3Mp fixed focus, Rear: 13.0Mp auto focus w/ LED light

•             Battery: 8.0 hours - Large 5,720mAh battery (user-replaceable)

•             Dimensions: 8.7"x 5.1" x 0.7"

•             Weight: 0.54kg

•             Wireless: Bluetooth V4.0, 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, optional embedded 4G LTE + 3G

•             I/O: Micro USB

This device is a much smaller form factor, running Android's operating system, the device itself doesn't have the capacity to run Windows 8, so it's aim at those out in the field not needing quite as much power under the hood.

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This device is easily portable at half a kilogram, pop it straight into a laptop bag without noticing. It also is available with additional extras including different types of handles to grip securely to the device.

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The FZ-G1 will be available from March, starting at $2,899, and the JT-B1, will ship February, starting at $1,199. At these prices they are definitely aimed at large scale operations, as smaller businesses would be unlikely to kit out the entire workforce at pushing two grand per device for Windows.

Speaking to Kyp Walls, director of product management, at CES, I asked him how he thought the Windows 8 Pro version would fair in the enterprise space which is generally not looking to adopt the new operating system straight away.

He said, "Even though it has been built for Windows 8, a fair number of our customers will buy it with a Windows 7 downgrade."

Panasonic have a Windows 7 Toughbook on the market at the moment, but the convenience of buying the new FZ-G1 is that it is around a third lighter.  

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Four years in the making: The best of the best.

Faisal Alani | No Comments | No TrackBacks
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karate-kid2.jpgHaving created this blog and nurtured it for the past four years, I've decided to put the best blog posts/videos from the best on one page.

Diary of an outcast: Apple's Special iPad 2 Event
I will start with my favourite post, the infamous Apple event. I had been invited to Apple events before but somehow started getting missed off the list. I hate Apple so it was no surprise that they didn't want me there. Safe to say that after this post not only was I missed off the list but Computer Weekly never received an invite from Apple ever again.

iPhone Vs N97
This was the first big video project that me and David (video editor) put together. At the time I was so happy that I'd got the N97 I decided to make a video pitting it against the iPhone while mocking Apple's advertising campaign. Little did I know that the N97 would prove to be the worst purchase I've ever made in my life.




HTC Desire HD Review
David (who stars in this video) and I wanted to do something different and create a cool video review. This is what we came up with.

Sadly once we started recording David (and the department he worked for) were made redundant. It didn't effect the video but it wasn't a happy time for us. Having cleared out his desk he set up at home the next day to finish it. This was our last hurrah and the last video I made. Very proud of it.




What is the best mobile OS around?
At this point, no one wanted to be in any of my videos. The company was starting to cut back on them and so I tried to play four roles with four outfits and a moustache before I got told that what I was doing wasn't a productive use of my time. Honestly, how could they say that?

This video used to have a voting element that has since been removed because we couldn't afford to pay for the server the flash sat on.

The most ambitious video we ever tried.





Video: The future of business cards, I'm not taking the Poken
There was a girl I was desperate to go out with at my work. I needed to do a video to have a reason to talk to her but the only thing I'd been sent was a Poken. No phones or cool gadgets. Somehow I persuaded her to help me make this video. We're still together :)




Video review of the wiimote like Gyration Air Mouse
This video is pretty much when I realised that I can be funny. What people don't realise is that filming didn't take long but discussions between David and I on what was funny took forever.

He would stand there saying "That's not funny" every time I cracked a joke or did something stupid. Or one of my favourite lines of his was "You might think that's funny, but it isn't".




Video: Palm Pre vs the iPhone - The big debate
I had 2 weeks before Christmas to do a video armed with my wit and a white wig that was left over from a very bad 'Back to the future' spoof I'd made where I played the Doc. That video was so bad that the company we producd it for sent us a letter saying that if the video ever saw the light of day, they'd sue my a** off. 

David went on holiday with a week left of editing/filming to do so I didn't have anyone to tell me that what I was saying wasn't funny and some of the editing is a bit off. It's still a good video but we felt it was rushed.




Video: I heart iPad - Dating website matches man to iPad
What do you do when you get your hands on an iPad before the UK release? Write a review. Then what? Make a video about having a special relationship with it. Yep, not sure why.



The HTC and Google story: A love affair and a tragedy
Lord knows what compelled me to write this. Had I taken more time to craft it, I think it could've been great but when I read it now I feel it's rushed. Still good, where the idea came from I'll never know.

Video: Flip Mino HD review
This video took 84 takes. For no reason at all I couldn't stop laughing during recording. We got in trouble because it was meant to take a couple of hours but took almost two weeks.

Video: Zeemote review - Is this the future of mobile gaming?
I did this video because Zeemote said that they'd give me a free phone if I reviewed it. So...

GeeklyWeekly Sexy Halloween Special
Wow, how bad is this video? It doesn't even have anything to do with gadgets!!

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