Feath­er­weight, but not an Ul­tra­book

Pana­sonic Tough­book CF-LX3


Pana­sonic de­scribes the Tough­book CF-LX3 as “the world’s light­est 14-inch busi­ness rugged note­book” - al­though, to be fair, there’s not much com­pe­ti­tion in that field. Nev­er­the­less, the CF-LX3 weighs just 1.2kg with the stan­dard con­fig­u­ra­tion 3-cell bat­tery, mak­ing it lighter than most 13-inch Ul­tra­books, which tend to be around 1.3kg.

A 6-cell bat­tery ver­sion, which in­cludes a built-in op­ti­cal drive, is also avail­able, and weighs 1.43kg. Un­for­tu­nately, with or with­out the op­ti­cal drive in­stalled, the drive bay for it re­mains, which makes both vari­ants of the CF-LX3 rather thick.

Its chunky 24.5mm pro­file ac­tu­ally ex­cludes it from In­tel’s strin­gent Ul­tra­book spec­i­fi­ca­tion re­quire­ments, which state that 14-inch Ul­tra­books must be less than 23mm thick. Its other ma­jor short­com­ing that keeps it from be­ing called an Ul­tra­book is its 250GB 5,400RPM HDD (Ul­tra­books re­quire a three-sec­ond startup from hi­ber­na­tion).

Like all Tough­books, the CFLX3’s lid fea­tures Pana­sonic’s sig­na­ture shock-ab­sorb­ing ridge de­sign, which gives the note­book drop re­sis­tance up to 76 cm, and pres­sure re­sis­tance up to 100kg.

The CF-LX3 is armed with a 14inch 1,600 x 900 pixel res­o­lu­tion matte LCD dis­play. While the LX3 runs on Win­dows 8.1 Pro, the dis­play it­self isn’t touch ca­pa­ble. The dis­play is quite bright, and clar­ity is rea­son­able, but it doesn’t fare well com­pared to some of the higher res­o­lu­tion IPS dis­plays we’ve been see­ing on newer Ul­tra­books.

The CF-LX3 has an older style key­board with one big block of keys (rather than the chi­clet­style most com­monly seen on newer note­books). The keys have plenty of travel, but there’s also a fair bit of flex ev­i­dent, and as the keys are all made from rub­ber, they’re also a bit soft and squishy, which doesn’t pro­duce the most sat­is­fy­ing typ­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. Un­like the click­pads found on al­most all Ul­tra­books, the track­pad on the CF-LX3 has ded­i­cated left and right click but­tons, but the track­pad it­self can­not be clicked. Track­ing was smooth and re­spon­sive, and ges­tures worked fine, but as we’ve be­come ac­cus­tomed to click­pads it felt like a bit of a step back­wards to get used to the old style of but­ton click­ing.

As ex­pected for an en­ter­priseaimed note­book, con­nec­tiv­ity on the CF-LX3 is fairly com­pre­hen­sive, and in­cludes an RJ-45 Eth­er­net port, a VGA port and an HDMI port. Se­cu­rity-wise, the CF-LX3 is equipped with the stan­dard TPM se­cu­rity chip, but lacks a fin­ger­print scan­ner.

The CF-LX3 is armed with an In­tel Core i5-4300U 1.9GHz pro­ces­sor, 4GB RAM, and In­tel HD4400 in­te­grated graph­ics. As men­tioned, the CF-LX3’s most glar­ing weak­ness is its low ca­pac­ity, slow 250GB 5400RPM HDD. In our bench­mark tests, the CF-LX3 per­formed rea­son­ably well, al­though, as ex­pected, it scored quite poorly in stor­age bench­marks. Bat­tery life on the 3-cell model was fairly good, last­ing just over three hours on Pow­er­mark’s bal­anced work­load bench­mark.

All things con­sid­ered, while the CF-LX3 is cer­tainly im­pres­sive for its light­weight and shock­proof, drop-re­sis­tant de­sign, its thick pro­file, older style key­board and track­pad, plus low ca­pac­ity, slow HDD leaves much to be de­sired. It’s also rather ex­pen­sive at $2,499 for the 3-cell con­fig­u­ra­tion and $2,699 for the 6-cell vari­ant with built-in op­ti­cal drive. Over­all, there are bet­ter and less ex­pen­sive en­ter­prise op­tions out there.

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