Panasonic launches new Toughbooks Android tablets with "warm swappable" batteries
Panasonic is a major leader in the rugged mobile electronics market and with good reason. Their Toughbook line of phones, tablets, and laptops are some of the most popular durable devices currently available. The company recently launched two new rugged handhelds to the Toughbook catalog - a 5-inch phone and a 7-inch tablet. While not powerhouses in their own right, these new devices have a few tricks up their sleeves.
On paper, the devices are definitely not top of the line:
Toughbook FZ-T1 phone
- Display: 5-inch 1280x720 IPS
- SoC: Qualcomm Snapdragon 210 (quad-core, 1.1 GHz)/Adreno 304 GPU (400 MHz)
- RAM: 2 GB
- Storage: 16 GB w/ microSD support
- Battery: 3200 mAh
- Connectivity: Micro USB 2.0, Bluetooth 4.2, 802.11 a/b/g/n WiFi
Toughbook FZ-L1 tablet
Display: 7-inch 1280x720 IPS
SoC: Qualcomm Snapdragon 210 (quad-core, 1.1 GHz)/Adreno 304 GPU (400 MHz)
RAM: 2 GB
Storage: 16 GB w/ microSD support
Battery: 3200 mAh
Connectivity: Micro USB 2.0, Bluetooth 4.2, 802.11 a/b/g/n WiFi
The Snapdragon 210 was slow when it was released back in 2014 and hasn’t gotten any faster since. Consequently, both Toughbook handhelds are well-tuned for single-application use and not much else. The addition of a 1D/2D barcode reader on each further supports this; these are devices meant for tracking packages and inventory and will likely be at home in a warehouse.
Surprisingly, both devices are running Android 8.1 Oreo out of the box, making them part of the mere 12% of total devices running the latest version of Android. They’re certainly some of the toughest devices running Oreo; both devices are MIL-STD-810G certified, have an IP66 and IP68 dust and water-resistant design, and are rated to survive drops from 5 feet.
Perhaps the standout feature is what Panasonic calls a “warm swappable” battery. Essentially, both devices have two batteries, one of which can be swapped out without powering down the device. We’ve seen similar tech in laptops, namely Lenovo’s ThinkPad devices, but the feature is still relatively novel in the handheld arena. Panasonic estimates each device can last 12 hours before needing a recharge, and the swappable battery feature theoretically extends battery life indefinitely.
Since these are specialty devices, they’ll be out of reach for most consumers (not that anyone would want one of these devices as a daily driver). Prices start at USD $1500 and go up from there. While pricey, keep in mind that the Toughbook handhelds are designed for industrial and corporate use, specifically in tough environments and warehouses that have unfavorable settings for delicate electronics. If you’re in search of a 4G-connected barcode scanner/handheld computer that won’t be destroyed when dropped, the Toughbook may be a good fit for your organization.