back to article Review: Panasonic Toughpad FZ-G1 WinPro 8 tablet

In the UK, Panasonic is not known as a high-street PC player - but the company’s Tough range of products makes quite an impression in the world of business. Out in the field you’ll spot them in the hands of BT engineers and the like where the manufacturer's rugged laptops, and now tablets, survive the rigours of white-van man …

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FAIL

Nice looking hardware

...shame about the OS (which is pants).

Wait a minute...

...They want how much for it? WTF?

Let me think... what else can I buy for £1900?

FAIL.

MAGNIFICENT FAIL.

A FAIL THE LIKE OF WHICH MAN HAS NEVER SEEN BEFORE.

THE KIND OF FAIL THAT ONLY HAPPENS ONCE IN 2000 YEARS.

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Meh

Re: Nice looking hardware

Are you kidding? It is the fuggliest thing I have seen in a long time.....

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Re: Nice looking hardware

It is the fuggliest thing I have seen in a long time.....

iPad owner?

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Re: Nice looking hardware

>Are you kidding? It is the fuggliest thing I have seen in a long time.....

Yeah, cos other kit this PC will be used with is known for being beautiful.

(Well, I do like those shiny red Snap-On tool cabinets)

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Holmes

Re: Nice looking hardware

Try the K-Wagen test with your iPad, then tell me the Panasonic is still fuggly.

We used to use Husky portables, which makes the Panasonic look like a bargain. Still, if your Mercedes K-Wagen gets stuck in a field, you can wedge the tablet under a wheel and use it a leverage to get out of the rut. You then just need to pick up your tablet, go to the nearest stream, dunk it in the water to wash it off, then you can carry on working, where you left off...

The only drawback with the Husky was that, despite being one tough mother, if you accidentally put the battery in the wrong way round (there was no lug to ensure the correct orientation), you would blow out the motherboard!

Devices like the Toughbook and Toughpad aren't there to look nice, they are there to stand the abuse of a field engineer stuffing it in his tool box or letting it slam around in the back of his Transit, then getting caught in a downpour as he tries to fathom out the wiring in a telecoms cabinet on a street corner.

It might be more expensive than an iPad and it might not look as good, but if the enviroment it is being used in requires a tough device, it is a darned sight cheaper than buying a new iPad every couple of weeks...

It is like saying a Land Rover Defender doesn't look pretty, compared to an Audi TT... Drive both of them through a couple of thousand miles of tropical jungle and wash them down and see which one looks pretty... Oh, wait, the TT is sitting under 4' of water 950 miles back. :-D

Also, the testing process to get those certifications isn't exactly cheap. We've just been through the IP6x testing for our terminals and that adds a significant amount to the price, for additional R&D, in house testing equipment, ruined prototypes and actual testing at an acredited body. We got IP69K (it will withstand high pressure, hot water from all side - or a firehose at full power from 1M distance), but we didn't manage to get IP68 (dunk it to 1.5M depth in room temperature water); it let in about an egg-cup full of water after an hour.

(not wanting to get pulled for advertising, no company or product names)

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FAIL

Re: Nice looking hardware

It is the fuggliest thing I have seen in a long time.....

And this matters, exactly how?

(It's also evident that you havent recently seen a Fiat Multibarf)

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Bronze badge

If tough is what you need

Looks like they've messed up with the screen on this. I have a toughbook with an active digitzer, you can only operate it with the stylus but it's very accurate. It also means it works fine in the rain.

The ability to withstand a 4' drop doesn't sound impressive but it is when you consider what it means. This device will withstand any drop from that height onto a concrete floor. You can do it all day over and over and it won't make any difference. Now with a bit of luck most tablets would survive a 4' fall, possibly on to concrete but if you did it ten times your tablet would be probably be bust. A touchpad will most likely survive much bigger falls, you just can't do it over and over and expect nothing to happen.

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Happy

Not really for home use is it?

This is more for companies that buy their field service kit by the 100s, if not 1000s.

That said it sounds quite good.

I think we are still a long way from the ultimate field service computer device that has the flexibility to capture any market.

I sort of miss the Husky, about the only laptop that had a connector for surface to air missile testing.

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back of fagpacket calculation ...

... perhaps worth it in any environment where > 5% of tablets are broken per week in accidents that this model would survive?

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Anonymous Coward

Nice to see a serial port...

Very handy for interfacing with ancient POS bits of kit like old phone switches/PLCs and the like. I would however have preferred to be able to have both the network and serial ports connected simultaneously, for situations where WIFI is not available.

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Useful in the right places

Given that some kit we send out is in use in places a week or so from the nearest point that they can send stuff back for repair some thing that improves the chance of it getting to the end of an expedition in a state the data can be recovered is a plus.

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JDX
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Sounds shit

Not the concept, just the implementation on this model. What's the point of a tablet that is rain-proof if you can't actually use it outside - half the use-cases involve using it in situ not repairing to the van to enter the data.

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Price: Quantity vs Quality

The problem is the price. For £2,000 you can give your engineers one Toughbook, or you can buy eight netbooks. Unless they're particularly clumsy, or working in inhospitable environments, they're unlikely to chew through eight netbooks in a four year period.

Most Toughbook users only ever use them inside their vans or site offices; they aren't pressing buttons in heavy rain. For those people, a cheap netbook is a better value proposition than a Toughbook. (Obviously if you do need to press buttons in the rain, then stick with the Toughie.)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Price: Quantity vs Quality

If the engineers are operating out of a base daily, then fair enough: balance the cost of "one tough expensive thing" failing, versus the cost "x number of cheap things failing" over a year.

However there are some rarer situations in which you have to calculate the cost of the user not having working kit with them. For example, a remote location that is time consuming and expensive to get to - thus resupply. You're probably paying an engineer a high rate to be there, and if the machine (and its backup) you've supplied him fails and he is unable to do his job without it, you'll have wasted much more than a few thousand dollars.

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JDX
Gold badge

Re: Price: Quantity vs Quality

Plus data loss - it's reasonable to assume data obtained in the field is not backed up until they return.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Price: Quantity vs Quality

As Dinosupport above points out, if your working out in the middle of nowhere a broken £200 netbook is not much use. Also, I've never seen a netbook with a proper serial port provided for interfacing with legacy hardware (and no, USB converters don't count).

It's like saying a car repair garage should buy all it's spanners from the pound shop, as they cost about 10 times less than professional grade tools, so what if a job is delayed due to you breaking 2-3 cheap spanners moving that one bolt...

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Re: Price: Quantity vs Quality

Its rare to get anything with a real serial port these days. Even laptops with port replicators are as incompatible as the USB ones.

In saying that, most legacy hardware needs legacy software, and that doesn't like newer operating systems.

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Re: Price: Quantity vs Quality

@Wize a lot of business grade notebooks still have serial ports on them.

The Fujitsus we buy all come with serial ports.

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Coffee/keyboard

Re: Price: Quantity vs Quality

HP's Business notebooks also (Models ending with a b) nearly always have serial ports.

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Meh

Re: Price: Quantity vs Quality

"The problem is the price."

Have you ever bought volume products for a company?

You buy by the 100s (or 1000s) and that price goes right the window.

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Meh

Might be worth it

One of our wanna-be executives has destroyed 2 company iPads so far and is working on a third. Unfortunately all the ruggedness doesn't help when someone simply loses the device though.

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Re: Might be worth it

"You can lead a manager to a decision, but you can't make him think" - BOFH, forget which one.

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WTF?

Arse-Over-Tit?

For a lot less money you could buy a decent tablet [fandroids and fanbois choose as appropriate] and bung it in an armoured case. My iPhone 3GS has withstood about 4 years of being rained on, dropped, covered in oil and muck, etc. with no ill-effects, thanks to being inside an Otterbox Defender case. I've never understood the point of building the "armour" into the gadget itself.

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Might be interresting in 5 years

...when they reach the used market. Used Toughpads are fairly affordable. Now of course one of the main problems is the operating system. I suspect that even among the Windows crowd most of them will switch to Windows XP.

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Unhappy

Screen brightness factor.

Two specs vital for field work that were needed to be confirmed in your test.

1. The legability of the display under direct sun light ( is 800 cd/m sq quoted in specs enough?)

2. It is capable of working in temps from -20 to 60 c & I assume high values of relative humidity by its IP65 ?

Both these factors would render most laptops, tablets & netbooks as useless for field work even before taking into consideration impact & dust/moisture resistance.

Appologies if I missed this!

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Unhappy

Battery Hot Swap gone?

Although the battery swap on a tablet is welcome, as it is not specifically mentioned by yourselves or in their specs, the hot swap feature is not on this. Not unreasonable with weight & space constraints, but a shame none the less.

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Nya
WTF?

Come on El Reg!

You missed the side by side test again an iPad we were waiting for. Where you throw them both down the stairs, then drive over them, and drop them in the bath...we need a true comparison after all :D

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Bronze badge

Actually the unit has an active (inductive) pen not a capacitive one. From the looks a Wacom unit. So the "rain" problem has a 30second solution - turn of touch. For the environments this unit is designed touch is likely useless anyway between gloves and dirty hands.

And comparing a netbook (or an iThingy/Fragmentdroid toy) to this is like comparing a Trabant to a Mercedes G. This unit has stuff like internal 3G, up to 8GB of memory, full sized SSD, USB-3, WIDI/Miracast capability and a useful screen resolution. Not to mention lots of computing power and a workdays endurance.

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Anonymous Coward

Toughpad FZ-G1 stylus is an emf field type stylus & not a capacitive stylus

Apparently the stylus is an emf field type, and it is not a capacitive pen type. It could be a wacom or n-trig type stylus. http://www.panasonic.com/business/toughpad/us/durable-fz-g1-tablet-photos.asp

A capacitive pen has a rubber nub that compresses when pressed upon like a nipple on milk bottle

https://a248.e.akamai.net/origin-cdn.volusion.com/h4b6e.cu6dg/v/vspfiles/photos/JM-AP-818RE-2.jpg

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