The Panasonic Toughbook line of rugged notebooks has been around for a while, but with there being a big need for tablets out in the field, having a detachable 2-in-1 in the line made a lot of sense. That’s what the company has in the Toughbook 33, a hulking, well-protected machine that doesn’t skimp on specs.
The Toughbook 33 is meant for use by fire departments, police departments, contractors, construction sites — basically, places where it’s really likely that the device will either be dropped or have something very heavy dropped onto it. The chassis is made of magnesium alloy and is surrounded by rubberized edges with a handle at the hinge — it’s basically the grown-up version of a child-safe case. The whole kit meets MIL-STD-810G military grade testing for drops and shocks, which makes sense because the military is probably going to use a few of these. It’s rated IP65 for protection against dust and water — worth noting that while it’s tops in dust ingress protection, that 5 rating means it’s only protected against splashes and rain. It won’t survive submersion in water. Then again, not many laptops or 2-in-1s have IP ratings at all, so it’s hard to complain too much.
Seeing as how there will almost certainly be sensitive data stored on these, security is important. The Toughbook 33 has an infrared webcam and a fingerprint scanner, enabling login by fingerprint, facial recognition, or iris scanning. There’s just one asterisk — Panasonic knows that a lot of enterprises and organizations haven’t switched to Windows 10, so they’re making the device available with Windows 7. But, those login features are enabled by Windows Hello, which is part of Windows 10.
The Toughbook 33 is going to be outside a lot, and Panasonic knows it. The battery lasts about 10 hours, but it can be configured with a battery that will last 20. That battery can also be hot-swapped for another in the field, so no matter how heavily it’s used, users shouldn’t end up with a dead device. The same attention to detail has gone into the display — it’s got a 12″ 1440p touch display that can be used with gloves. They’ve used a 3:2 aspect ratio display, so there’s less scrolling needed when reading something in vertical orientation. The most important detail might be the 1,200 nits of brightness on the display — that’s super bright (even compared to televisions, let alone laptops), so reading it in direct sunlight shouldn’t be an issue.
The specs guarantee fast performance, too. It has a 7th generation Intel Core i5 or i7 U-series CPU with 8 GB or 16 GB of RAM — the Windows 7 version comes with comparable 6th generation processors. The Windows 7 version actually does come with Windows 10 Pro installed, but there’s an option to downgrade to Windows 7 Pro. And, it can be configured with a 256 GB or 512 GB SSD — not only are those faster than HDDs, they don’t have any moving parts, making them tougher. The 1080p webcam should guarantee clear video calls, and there’s also an 8 MP rear camera — maybe the one feature that could have been better, since this will probably be used to take pictures of disaster areas, construction sites, and the like. For connectivity, there’s 802.11 ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth standard, with 4G LTE and GPS optional. There’s also an assortment of USB ports, card readers, and barcode scanners available, depending on the configuration.
The Panasonic Toughbook 33 is, unsurprisingly, pretty expensive. It’ll be available later this month for $3,650 in 2-in-1 form, including the tablet, the keyboard dock, and a digitizer pen. Panasonic says that it’ll be possible to just buy the tablet, too, along with a number of vehicle docks (including their older Toughbook 31 dock, which still works with this one). A three-year warranty and 24/7 tech support is included in that price, too.