Panasonic has announced a new field-ready addition to its Toughbook range, the Toughbook H1 Field tablet computer. Built with highly mobile professionals in mind, the new weatherproof and shockproof model benefits from a dual battery setup that should help ensure power is always available, a sunlight-visible touchscreen interface, reinforced solid state storage and a molded hand grip for extra comfort.

As with other models in the Panasonic Toughbook family, the H1 Field is weatherproof (to IP65 standards) and is built to survive being dropped from a height of six feet to MIL-STD-810G standards. Claimed to be "the world’s most rugged handheld tablet computer", a magnesium alloy chassis holds a bright (500 nit or candela per square meter) 10.4in XGA dual-touch tablet display that "includes a circular polarizer, plus anti-glare and anti-reflective screen treatments, making it easily viewable in direct sunlight." Working in extreme temperatures shouldn't prove problematic either thanks to the H1 Field's wide operating temperature range of -20C - 60C (-4F - 140F).

Running on Windows 7 (XP available on request) and powered by a Intel's 1.86GHz Z540 Atom processor, the H1 Field also benefits from potentially perpetual power thanks to a twin hotswap battery setup. When the battery in the left compartment is removed for charging after providing its claimed six hours usage, a second one in the right compartment provides the unit's power. When that's ready for charging, popping a battery back in the left side should provide the field sales operative, supervisor, inspector, maintenance worker or first responder at which the unit is aimed with an uninterrupted power supply.

Each tablet comes with 2Gb RAM and a 65Gb reinforced flex-connect solid state drive along with a host of optional extras, including SmartCard, RFID and barcode readers, a 2MP autofocus camera with dual LED flash, GPS and fingerprint reader. Wireless options on offer include Qualcomm’s anywhere, anywhen Gobi2000 mobile broadband technology (EV-DO and HSPA) which will initially be certified on the Sprint and Verizon wireless networks (with other carriers on the way), Intel WiFi Link 5100 802.11a/b/g/n and Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR.

Panasonic has taken care to ensure that the its new 3.14lbs, 10.4 x 10.6 x 1.3 - 2.3 inch unit is both portable and comfortable to use, being without hotspot areas, being well-balanced and having a molded hand strap as well as an integrated carrying handle.

The Toughbook H1 Field will be available from March 2010 for an estimated US$3,379. More information is available via the Toughbook website.

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