Panasonic Adds Ruggedized Atom-Powered Tablet To Toughbook Line

For almost 15 years, Panasonic's Toughbook series of laptops has been the gold standard for anyone who needed a notebook capable of surviving being dropped, kicked, flung, run over, or struck by a small tactical nuke. The company no longer owns the ruggedized laptop field—newcomers Dell and HP have fielded their own designs—but Panasonic insists that it remains at the king of the hill. The company's new H1 Field tablet is meant to demonstrate that point.

The H1 Field features a 10.4" sunlight-viewable display, is built with a magnesium alloy internal frame, and was independently certified to the IP65 and MIL-STD-801G standards. Panasonic puts a fair degree of emphasis on the fact that these certification tests were performed by an independent lab rather than by the manufacturer itself. The not-so-subtle indication from Panasonic in this case is that its competitors test their ruggedized products under less strenuous conditions.

"We really go beyond the MIL spec with our tests," Panasonic's director of product management, Kyp Walls, told Computer World. Walls' claims that systems from other companies literally can't match Panasonic in this regard because other OEMs are "taking a consumer or business-grade machine and saying 'If we bolt this on here or put a little foam there, we'll make a rugged machine." The tablet's specifications (PDF) are as follows:
  • Intel Atom Z540 (1.86GHz)
  • 2GB DDR2
  • 64 GB SLC SSD
  • Windows 7 Professional w/XP Tablet Downgrade Option
  • 10.4" dual-touch 1024x768 Display (Intel GMA500)
  • Intel WiFi 802.11a/b/g/n Adapter
  • BlueTooth 2.1
  • Integrated Gobi Mobile Broadband (Optional)
  • Twin hot-swappable Li-ion Batteries
Panasonic claims the twin batteries can power the H1 Field for up to six hours. There's no question that the H1 Field is built to survive, right down to Panasonic's choice of an SLC Flash drive over an MLC unit. With a starting price of $3,379 and a fully loaded system going for over $4,000, however, you'll still need to be breathing rarified air (or have one heck of a niche need) to justify the cost.