Panasonic announces the semi-rugged Toughbook 54 laptop
Today, Panasonic expanded their range of rugged devices with a new 14-inch laptop. The Toughbook 54 is positioned as semi-rugged, meaning that it's more compact than usually expected of rugged laptops of this size: it's "only" 3 cm (1.2 inch) thick and weighs just 1.9 to 2.1 kg (4.2 to 4.6 lbs) depending on the installed hardware. Nevertheless, it offers a convincing set of protective features. The chassis is made of magnesium alloy and folds into a briefcase with a built-in handle. It's dust-protected (IP5x), tested to comply with MIL-STD-810G standard and is claimed to be able to survive a 3-foot (90 cm) drop. The keyboard, touchpad, hinges and display are spill-resistant and all the ports are covered with flaps.
Four models will be available: Prime, Lite, Performance and Gloved Multi Touch. They will offer slightly different configuration options: for instance, Prime and Lite models are limited to HD (1366x768 pixels) display whereas the other two models are equipped with IPS FHD (1920x1080) display with direct bonding. In the Gloved Multi Touch model it supports 10-point multitouch (capacitive) and should be capable of reaching a stunning 1000 cd/m² brightness, making the laptop potentially suitable for usage outdoors on a sunny day in a snowy environment. There are even hard drive heaters installed to prevent storage malfunction in cold conditions. The primary storage is easily removable and can consist of either a 500 GB HDD (5400 RPM for Lite model and 7200 for others), a 1 TB 7200 RPM HDD or a 128/256 GB SSD. The secondary drive (128/256 GB SSD) is onboard (not available on the Lite model) but should be still "trained technician removable", leading is to suspect that it's either an M.2 or an mSATA module.
One thing common for all models is the Intel Core i5-5300U vPro-enabled processor and its HD Graphics 5500. (We have recently briefed our readers on the advantages that the Broadwell vPro platform offers.) A Core i7 can be chosen on all models except Lite but Panasonic doesn't specify the exact CPU - presumably it's also a vPro Broadwell chip, most likely the Core i7-5600U. There can be 4, 8 or 16 GB of DDR3L 1600 MHz RAM installed. The Performance model is additionally equipped with AMD's FirePro M5100 dedicated graphics and dual fans (user-removable) to assist with its cooling. Output to external monitors is possible via HDMI and, should the buyer choose it, the optional VGA port (simultaneous output is supported).
Unfortunately, not all of the optional upgrades can be installed at once, but the level of customization is still impressive. Buyers can choose additions from the following list (options in italics are not available on the Lite model):
- Serial port
- Dual high-gain antenna passthrough
- USB 2.0 or Dedicated GPS module (u-blox NEO M8N) or 2nd Gigabit LAN module or Rugged Fischer® USB (mutually exclusive)
- 1080p webcam with mic
- DVD drive or PC Card Type II slot or 2nd 32 Wh battery (mutually exclusive but hot-swappable)
- 4G/LTE WWAN modem with GPS
- Insertable SmartCard reader
- Contactless (NFC) SmartCard reader or fingerprint reader (mutually exclusive)
Standard interfaces and communications include three USB 3.0 ports, HDMI video output, gigabit Ethernet, SD cardreader, 3.5-mm audio jack, dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.0 and WiDi (Intel Wireless-AC 7265 module). A TPM 1.2 module is also standard on all models as well as Computrace support and a Kensington lock slot. The NumPad-less keyboard is equipped with emissive backlight on all models but Lite while the electrostatic touchpad is available on all four. The primary battery capacity is 34 Wh for the Lite model and 46 Wh for the three others.
Various accessories are also offered by Panasonic, ranging from vehicle and desktop docks (the docking port is located on the bottom of the laptop) to carry cases, backpacks and battery packs. The laptop itself should become available this month starting at $1500 (Lite model with no upgrades), which includes a three-year warranty.