Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Panasonic ToughBook CF-19 Laptop

If you're a regular reader of TrustedReviews you will have seen my previous ToughBook reviews. You will also be aware that I try to put these notebooks through as much punishment as possible while I have them in my possession. You see the Panasonic ToughBook is a very different type of notebook computer. It's not about the latest CPU or the fastest graphics chip, oh no. The ToughBook line is all about survival!

I'm sure that Darwin wasn't thinking about laptops when he wrote about natural selection, but I'd say that it's a safe bet that if you threw a dozen notebooks on a desert island for a year, it would be the ToughBook that would survive the ordeal and claim the million Dollar prize. Whether or not Darwin actually coined the phrase "survival of the fittest" (it still seems to be open to debate), there's little doubt that the ToughBook range of notebooks would survive the trials of life better than any other.

The CF-19 falls under Panasonic's fully rugged moniker, meaning that it will stand up to almost anything. That includes being dropped from almost a metre, being showered with water, being thrown in the mud and being dragged through dust and sand. It's therefore no surprise that ToughBooks are used by the US military, where the conditions are often inhospitable to say the least. In fact Panasonic was keen to mention that a ToughBook saved a soldier's life during Desert Storm, which I mentioned in my CF-29 review.

The unusual thing about the CF-19 and the CF-18 before it, is that despite being as tough as an armadillo, it's also pretty small and light. Weighing in at 2.25kg and measuring 271 x 216 x 49mm (WxDxH), the CF-19's proportions don't indicate that it could withstand serious abuse, but believe me, it can. The video embedded on this page shows the CF-19 being dropped from a metre high, being doused in water, having someone jump on it and having it doused in more water with the lid open. You can also see from the video that the CF-19 still worked after all that punishment and was happy to be doused in yet more water when powered on.

Because fully rugged ToughBooks are built to be used in extreme environments, pointer movement can be something of an issue. It's hard to use a touchpad when it's covered in mud or dust, so Panasonic has equipped the CF-19 with a touch screen instead. Now, when I reviewed the CF-29 I found it incredibly simple to navigate Windows with my index finger, but when I reviewed the CF-18 I realised that the 10.4in screen made this a little tricky. The same is true for the CF-19, which utilises the same 10.4in screen, but Panasonic gets around this problem by hiding a stylus just below the screen. Continuing with the rough and ready theme, there's also a supplied cord that attaches the stylus to the CF-19, to make sure that you don't lose it while you're kyaking down the Yukon.