It’s fun putting a laptop through its paces, writes Jennifer Dudley- Nicholson
Panasonic Toughbook lives up to name.
PEOPLE do terrible things to laptops. They drown, drop, freeze and cook them.
Most computers cannot handle the mistreatment.
Panasonic Toughbooks, however, are designed to thrive despite attempts on their lives.
This Toughbook, the CF-C1, looks rugged. Its black metal exterior resembles construction equipment and its body is thicker than most.
Pleasantly, however, it isn’t heavy. This model is the lightest 12.1-inch convertible tablet computer and, at 1.4kg, feels like its battery is missing.
But Toughbooks aren’t popular for their weight. Users want to know how much punishment these laptops can take.
This model makes three bold claims. It promises to withstand up to 100kg of pressure, to stay running even if you drop it from 76cm, and to laugh in the face of spilled beverages. So we punished it. The first experiment was easy. Like Arthur Fonzarelli in Happy Days, we sat on it.
It may not have been comfortable, it didn’t feel sensible and the pressure was not 100kg, but the CF-C1 took it. It emerged from sleep mode like a trooper.
The second experiment was more confronting. Dropping any computer seems unwise, so a carpet landing pad was chosen.
Mercifully, the Toughbook landed with a reassuring thunk. It lived.
The third experiment was the most nerve-racking. Panasonic doesn’t recommend users spill beverages on a Toughbook keyboard; it simply says this computer is better equipped to handle it.
The manual states ‘‘ repairs resulting from liquids being spilled on the computer are not free of charge’’.
The Toughbook CF-C1 does feature a drain under its keys and it collects spilled liquid and guides it through a hole in the undercarriage.
In the case of a spill, users should keep the computer upright and level and let the liquid drain.
This is what we did after a generous splash of water. At first the water pooled. Panic ensued. After 10 agonising seconds, the water trickled from its hatch beneath this laptop. It turned on again like nothing had happened.
While this laptop passes the toughness test, it is also capable in regular desk settings.
The Toughbook runs Windows 7 using a 2.4GHz Intel Core i5 processor, 2GB RAM and a 250GB hard drive.
Plenty of ports line its sides, including three USB ports, an Ethernet connection, VGA port and space for a PC Card, though it omits an optical drive.
It does feature a 12.1-inch touchscreen, and this can be flipped around to transform it into a thick tablet. It’s a handy addition and one that could be useful when editing photos or reading websites on the go.
Ultimately, this laptop is on the bulky side, in the expensive category and not designed for everyday butterfingers.
Those who need a tough computing partner for a challenging environment should appreciate its durability, though, because that comes with few compromises.