Panasonic opens up about semi-rugged mobile computing

Users will be able to customise a notebook computer for different tasks while in the field, says Panasonic at the launch of the Toughbook 55. The semi-rugged notebook has a slim, lightweight clamshell design and allows users to boost graphics capabilities, add a smartcard reader, additional storage or a DVD or Blu-Ray drive with a simple switch to fit and click new functionality into the notebook’s Universal Bay. In addition, a front expansion slot can be used to quickly integrate a fingerprint reader, RFID or regular smart card reader or for the addition of a second battery.

Buyers can also customise three additional ports via the expansion slot, VGA, True Serial and one from a choice of 4th USB, 2nd GLAN or Rugged USB 2.0.

According to Jan Kaempfer, general manager of marketing for Panasonic Computer Product Solutions: “This device . . .  takes semi rugged mobile computing to new levels of flexibility, productivity and sustainability. Users can customise their device on the move . . . Buyers can invest in the device knowing that it has the flexibility to adapt to the changing needs of the business and the workforce over the long-term. Lastly, it cuts the carbon footprint of the device because it enables the repair and replacement of independent parts rather than discarding the device when one part fails or sending the whole device back for repair.”

Toughbook 55 is more flexible, faster, tougher, secure, and long lasting than its predecessor, the Toughbook 54, but can be still be used with accessories from the previous device, including vehicle docks and desktop port replicators.

It is lightweight (2.08kg), slim (32.8mm) and has a hand for portability. It has an enhanced ingress protection rating (IP53) against dust and water splash and is protected against drops up to 910mm (MIL-STD810H). Operation in extreme temperatures has also been enhanced, with an operating range of -20 to +60°C.

Battery life has been increased up to 20 hours, with an extended capability of 40 hours, with the addition of a hot swap second battery.

For use when docked in vehicles, the Toughbook 55 has enhanced voice recognition and speaker volume capabilities. Four optional mics contribute to a voice recognition rate of 98 per cent, reports Panasonic. Improved stereo speaker capabilities (92dBA) make conversations in-vehicle or in noisy work environments easier, adds the company.

The keyboard is customisable and there is an optional colour changeable keyboard backlight with isolated keys and resin-painted letters for easy viewing in light or darkness.

Users can choose how they interact with the capacitive touch screen with up to 10 finger touch mode, with or without gloves, or by using a stylus with a fine nib of 2mm for precise writing and accuracy.

The device can also be used in a wide range of environments from bright sunlight to areas where light must be kept to a minimum. (Max brightness 1000cd/m2. Minimum brightness is 2cd/m2) It includes optional a 2MP front camera with IR and privacy shutter for video conferencing.

Toughbook 55 is one of the first notebooks in the market to include an advanced security platform which makes it a modern Windows 10 Pro device with hardware, software, and identity protection fully-enabled out of the box.

The 8th generation Intel Core i5 vPro processor, Panasonic advanced components and Windows 10 Pro features ensure highest protection against firmware attacks, securing BIOS phase and device attacks securing the data access even when the OS is in stand-by mode.

There is also identity protection with optional fingerprint reader, smart card reader, contactless smart card reader and Windows Hello facial recognition through an optional front camera.

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