July 17, 2008 Panasonic’s Toughbook, the battle-hardy computer popular with emergency response teams, law enforcement, the military and mountain-climbers has been given a substantial boost in capability. The desktop replacement CF-52 and field-use CF-74 have been given new Intel Centrino 2 processors, expanded graphics capabilities, 160GB of hard drive space, and 802.11 Draft N Wi-Fi connectivity.

The rugged Toughbooks are resistant to shocks, spills, dust, and vibration. Originally, these characteristics were most appreciated by those who need to use laptops in extreme conditions, but the versatility of the notebook has generated an ever-expanding userbase amongst people who want their laptop to survive the occasional drop, coffee spill, or bumpy airline flight. Toughbook hard drives are mounted in polymer compounds that absorb impacts, internal dampeners protect the LCD screens in a similar fashion, and flexible internal connectors between the hard drive and system board prevent the components from transferring shock forces. A magnesium casing further protects the computer from impact damage, and the screens and drives are sealed against moisture and dust.

The new 15.4-inch widescreen CF-52 will be available in August, with an estimated price of US$1949 for the value model, and US$2849 for the premium model, which includes higher video and system performance. The new CF-74 with the 13.3-inch display will also be available in August, for an estimated price of USD$3199. Both models incorporate a carrying handle and optional embedded access to mobile broadband networks.

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