Toughbooks make good travelling companions
Alan Zisman (c) 2007 First published in Business
June 26-July 2, 2007; issue 922
High Tech Office column
looking at a series of devices to help us with work and play this
week, we started with the TomTom Go 910, a GPS gadget that
moves with you from car to car, telling you where you are and how to
get to where you’re going.
of the people in a recent AP-Ipsos poll noted that they took a laptop
on their most recent vacations. I suspect more BIV readers than that
tote a portable computer with them.
weighing in between 2.5 and 3.0 kilograms or so, most so-called
portable computers can feel more like boat anchors when you’re dragging
them down a long airport corridor. There are lighter notebooks, but
many users avoid them. They’re expensive ways to get too little
has long made a series of so-called Toughbooks: ruggedized notebooks
designed, according to the company, to “withstand the rigours of your
industry.” They’re housed in magnesium shells and built to withstand
shocks, spills, dust and vibrations better than most portable computers.
New to the Toughbook lineup: the CF-W5 model.
Officially, Panasonic refers to this one as “semi-rugged.”
not as hard core as most of its teammates, but weighing in around 1.2
kg it’s a lot easier to lug around and offers more durability than most
features a 1.2 GHz Intel Core Solo processor, 512 megabytes of RAM, and
a 60-gigabyte hard drive, features that would at first glance sound
like those of a low-end laptop. But they’re perky enough to provide
reasonable performance while going easy on the battery.
a result, this laptop promises battery life between 5.5 and an
astounding 11 hours. (As always, to get the promised top end battery
life, you have to be prepared to take some pretty drastic steps to
12-inch display runs at a usable 1024 x 768 resolution and is clear and
readable, with an anti-glare coating that makes it viewable outdoors
and in bright light. (A CF-Y5 model sports a 14” display.)
unlike most ultra-portable models, there’s a built-in CD/DVD drive.
Low-weight models typically save poundage by putting the optical drive
in an external case. The computer weighs less, but if you want to burn
a CD, install software, or watch a DVD, you have to haul the extra
weight along anyway.
model builds in a drive while still keeping the weight down.
Unfortunately, the pop-up cover for the drive was sometimes hard to
open and felt flimsy, in contrast to the Toughbook promise. I would
have been happier if Panasonic had used a slot-load drive like Apple’s.
Other than that, Panasonic did a good job
balancing toughness and portability in an attractive design.
other Toughbook models it’s got a magnesium-alloy frame, offering more
durability at lower weight than plastic. The hard drive is encased in
foam for shock protection, and the keyboard is spill-resistant. It
comes with a three-year standard warranty – most notebook warranties
are one year – suggesting that Panasonic truly believes it’s more
durable than most.
gets bonus marks from me for avoiding the temptation to fill the hard
drive with unwanted demo software. You get Windows XP and a few
utilities for the wireless adapter and CD/DVD burner. A DVD movie
player. That’s about it.
priced at $2,700 ($2,900 for the 14-inch model). Not cheap, but easy to
carry around, attractive and tough but not macho. I’d be happy to take
it on vacation. •