Panasonic Toughbook CF-31 Review

Panasonic has recently launched a new rugged notebook named Panasonic Toughbook CF-31 that is designed to endure the harshness of environmental forces and beat daily wear and tear. Targeted at the military forces and field workers, Toughbook CF-31 boasts its capability of taking up to 300 pounds pressure on it.

It can survive drops from a height of 6 feet (3 feet when the laptop is running). This IP65 certified Toughbook is weatherproof and complies with the MIL-STD-810G certified shocks, temperature and vibrations. Also, this latest rugged laptop from Panasonic stands up to 6 inches of rain. At a high price of $3799, Panasonic Toughbook CF-31 does look too expensive. Does the laptop have enough features to justify the hefty price tag? Let us find out in this review.

Panasonic Toughbook CF-31 Features

Design

On first looking, the Toughbook CF-31 appears like a suitcase – made more convincing by the pull-out handle. Dimensionally the laptop is 2.9×11.9×11.5 inches and weighs 8.8 pounds. Panasonic has made extensive use of hard black plastic in the CF-31’s construction.

Panasonic Toughbook CF-31

While the bottom and the edges flaunt hard plastic construction, the lid is augmented by silver magnesium alloy. The pull-out handle makes space for a stylus.

Screen

Panasonic Toughbook CF-31 sports 13.1-inch touchscreen that shows exceptional brightness unlike most other notebook touchscreens. The motto behind this is to enable the user read the screen outdoors as the laptop is designed for field works.

The screen renders sharp contrast in images and videos. However, the screen renders washed-out output indoors when set to highest backlight settings. The screen sports 1024x768p resolution and offers narrow viewing angles. The touchscreen is highly responsive.

Internals

Toughbook CF-31 runs on 2.53GHz Core i5-540M CPU from Intel and is backed by ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5650 GPU. The processor is supported by 4GB RAM that is capable of handling the most graphics intensive tasks. Toughbook CF-31 scored an unusual 5557 score in PCMark05 benchmark test.

Internals

This score is not only above the average score (4015) and that of its predecessor CF-30 (3284) but is also much more than once leader GD Itronix GD8000 notebook. Future models of Toughbook CF-31 will sport Core i5-2540M CPU and Radeon HD 6750 graphics card. It is also said that by the end of 2012, Toughbook CF-31 Mark III notebooks will feature Ivy Bridge processors.

The notebook is based on Windows XP while 64-bit or 32-bit Windows 7 Professional is provided by DVD. Now that there is no practical use of games on a Toughbook let’s not talk about how the operating system deals with games and gaming apps. But it is capable enough to deal vertical-market software used in police cars.

Interface

Toughbook CF-31 sports chiclet-style keyboard with great feedback. The F12 function key is dedicated to changing backlighting across many levels. The Delete key shifts place to lower right corner, alongside cursor keys. The keyboard has dedicated keys for Page Up and Down, Home and End. Most people are going to find issues with the tiny touchpad measuring only 2.25×1.5 inches. Registering a tap is also troublesome as it requires extra force for the task.

Connectivity

Toughbook CF-31 sports a bunch of connectivity features including PC Card, Smart Card and Express Card slots, SD card reader, HDMI, Ethernet, AC power connector, 2xUSB ports, VGA port, docking station connector, serial port, headphone jack and microphone jack.

Connectivity

It also sports DVD±RW drive. Security issues are well tackled by fingerprint reader. Apart from these the usual 802.11a/g/n WiFi and Bluetooth are also on board.

Performance

Nobody looks for blazing fast speed in a toughbook. So, to serve the real purposes haunting military personnel and people on field work, Toughbook CF-31 is capable of standing against water and accidental drops. Although the dual-core i5-540M processor and 4GB RAM together cannot translate into blazing fast performance, CF-31 performs much better than usual netbooks during the course of the day.

Toughbook CF-31 also supports graphics-intensive games like Crysis at medium settings. Lovers of Lost Planet 2 game will find difficulty as Toughbook CF-31 misses 30fps threshold.

Battery life

Toughbook CF-31is powered by 91Wh hefty battery that lasts for little more than 6 hours. Although CF-31 is left behind by the CF-S10 by 3 hours in battery life, it lasts longer than Dell Latitude E6420-XFR.

Panasonic Toughbook CF-31 Price

Panasonic Toughbook CF-31 is priced at $3799. Toughbook CF-31 comes with a 3-year warranty.

Conclusion

Designed exclusively for business travelers and vertical markets, Panasonic Toughbook CF-31 serves a worthy and enduring replacement for desktop PC. Extreme ruggedness, however, comes with extra pounds in terms of weight as well as price.

But other highlights such as bright screen and handy nature justify for its little downsides. If you are a professional in search of a durable toughbook then go for Toughbook CF-31.