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back to article Panasonic CF-53 Toughbook 14in rugged laptop

Skinny Ultrabooks may be getting all the press at the moment but what it you want a laptop that will withstand the knocks, drops and tribulations of use on the road and in the great outdoors rather than the board-room? Panasonic’s semi-rugged CF-53 Toughbook may be just the ticket. Panasonic CF-53 Toughbook rugged laptop Ready …

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Hard drive

For that money I'd also want an SSD, which considering how suitable they are to rugged applications is a surprising omission.

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Coffee/keyboard

Re: Hard drive

We've come to expect so-so hardware from Panasonic on its ruggedized machines ...to the point of annoyance..

Apparently, they continue on that track:

The hard drive is pathetic, but can at least be swapped easily.

Much worse is the exceedingly poor resolution for a 14" screen. Try viewing a full document page on that, which would work great if the resolution was better.

Even on 13" screens most manufacturers have at least the option to get something better.

Missing webcam and cooky keyboard layout will make most people think they are better off buying another laptop and a Peli case to go with it.

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Holmes

For the price though, I’d really like to have seen a standard-fit webcam

I wouldn't. The reason why a webcam is not standard is probably that a major part of Toughbook customers are in the defense/security sector where webcams are a simple no-go.

I do agree with the backlit keyboard, though, this should be standard on such a device. And there really should have been enough room budget-wise for a SSD instead of a hard drive.

Personally I also miss the availability of a keyboard with trackpoint. Unfortunately Panasonic doesn't offer this (GE has some rugged laptops with it, though).

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That enter key

would drive me potty.

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IBM

Didn't IBM have a range of laptops with accelerometers built in. They could detect if they were dropped and auto-park the harddrive before impact. The adverts showed them being dropped of a café table (about 0.75m) and surviving.

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Re: IBM

They did and still do (well it's Lenovo now, but still) as far as I'm aware the entire ThinkPad range has it. Certainly my ThinkPad SL410 (about the cheapest model from two years ago) has it.

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Silver badge

Why don't normal laptops have handles?

Why? It seems to make sense and even Apple did it once.

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Coat

Re: Why don't normal laptops have handles?

Because then idiots go outside when its raining and wonder why their notebook computer no longer works.

Anyways a few quid for a notebook computer bag sorted.

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Silver badge

Re: Why don't normal laptops have handles?

With a laptop bag, idiots will pull up the bag while it's not closed and the laptop will fall out. Trust me, happened a _lot_ of times to me.

Besides bags don't provide any real protection.

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A bit pricey

Something like that at a 600eur mark would definately be of interest. But the price point is way way to much imho. But I'd drop the optical drive. And yes thank you for no webcam. I'd swap the optical drive for an extra battery. This could be very usable then.

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For the price...

... I'd want 500 quid change.

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Re: For the price...

have you seen the build quailty of a toughbook, My old CF-29 is literally indestructable! Yacht racing its just stamped on, thrown in a locker with anchors, rope, winch handles, etc, its launched off tables with its diplay open and used in torrential rain... as a party peice, i tend to clean its screen under the tap... and have been known to start it sat in the sink with the taps on full, water covering the keyboard... its used as a step, or screen opened, laptop on end and sat on when its standing room only in the train...

The Dell XFR that replaced it is crazy fast compared to it, but i had to treat it with so much care that its cosseted as much as a standard lattitude!

This is only the business rugged version, but a similar amount of care goes into the creation of one of these... its expensive, but without doubt, this is money is money well spent...

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Megaphone

Toughbooks

As we have a load and they look exactly like this I can tell you they won't die (Still have a P3 toughbook somewhere, when they should be using a shiny new non ruggid notebook :@).

You can jump around like a raving looney shouting die and it'll be fine, thankfully that member of staff was escorted from site shortly before they broke something.

Webcam pfft, want people to do real work on them not some stupid "conference" call where they try and show on the rubbish webcams the issue and it just ends up being. Backlit keys, in this day and age with H&S everything they wouldn;t be permitted to use them I the dark.

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Forgot the customary moan

1366x768? On a 14" screen? This laptop is not for watching films. The screen on this should be 1280x1024 or 1440x900

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Silver badge

Re: Forgot the customary moan

My car mechanic has been quizzing me on such a machine - for use in a workshop for diagnostic equipment. High resolution screen useful for viewing graphs, not films. Variable lighting conditions, use of gloves in winter, a wide variety of dust, grime and tea. Not to mention some of his lads...

Specifying an SSD seems to be a no-brainer, given those tall workbenches and concrete floors; he can always use a NAS over WiFi if needs be. Asking him what sort of data lives on his HDD I was only told 'Well, he last one seemed to fill up'.

IIRC he's settled on a Durabook from Steatite.co.uk who seem to stock rugged laptops from a variety of manufacturers. It's just that it is only ever the Panasonics that we hear about in the mainstream IT press.

I'm not a mechanic myself, just clumsy, so I made sure my laptop had at least a spill-proof keyboard. Though the Reg has often made me laugh, you will never owe me a new keyboard.

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I used and repaired Toughbooks when in the military and I can say without a doubt they are the best at the durable, portable computer setup. We tried other brands, and had numerous issues, like lan ports snapping off the mainboard.

The abuse I have seen these subjected to would make most people cringe but was handy when you had to justify the price. Coupled with the training and support levels we got from them I would recommend them to anyone needing them. I even have a older one at home for a project with a dock and car adapter power source as I know it will handle the cold weather in Canada.

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Been looking at getting a ruggedised laptop - what other brands have you tried? I've been looking at the General Dynamics ones, but can't find any comparisons to the Panasonic ones.

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If memory serves me right it was a Gobook we tested out in my setups. On paper it was nice, back lit keys nice specs at the time ruggedized and around 1/2 the price. Once we installed them though every single Ethernet port broke off the mainboard and these were in basic setups with minimal abuse. Being that we interfaced with a number of devices over Ethernet this was a show stopper. That all said it was a few years back and I would hope they fixed that flaw by now.

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Just saw on my search go book seems to be Itronix which is under GD. Knowing that and knowing GD kit, they probably did not fix the issue.

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Silver badge

We have the previous version around the place...

As noted - they're tough as old boots. We give them to the roughnecks on the oil rigs to download data from the toolhead, and they survive.

They've got the DEL key in a funny place, mind...

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Dust-proof

My sister-in-law works on a lot of mine sites with some serious dust issues. The last Lenovo needed the fan replaced and since no-one would do this (except me) she replaced it with a Toughbook and has not looked back.

I have seen a lot in police cars in Canada as well, although not sure if that is quite such a tough environment as they are well strapped in...

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Re: Dust-proof

They are usually used in the police cars due to the cold weather, those things can handle staying out overnight in the middle of winter and still boot with no issues. Of course the most common fault I fixed was from bored cops prying keys off the keyboard, or wearing out keys as they interfaced with the most used applications, games.

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+1 for use in a workshop

ONe of my clients has got the big one like this, and 4 of the CF-18 with the touch screens for use in a garage workshop environment, and you can't knock them (no pun intended). Only fault is one needs a new touch screen, but they are all around five years old now, so really can't complain at the abuse they take from spanner-monkeys!

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