back to article Panasonic's seven-inch Windows slab has tough exterior, confused mind

When Samsung announced that the Galaxy S5 had earned the IP67 rating, the next-to-highest moisture-and-dust-resistance score attainable on the intrusion protection rating scale, it made ruggedisation look easy. After all, the only visible difference between the S5 and its predecessor is a flap over the USB slot and a thin …

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Pint

"highest moisture-and-dust-resistance score attainable"

That would be IP68 then (continuous immersion).

IP67 is rated for temporary immersion (up to 1m deep for up to 30 mins).

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Re: "highest moisture-and-dust-resistance score attainable"

And IP69K, high pressure jets at high temperatures. The latter is important to us, as our terminals are installed in slaughter houses and cleaned with high pressure cleaners on a daily basis.

We've been using rugged tablet PCs for many years now for lairage and cool house management. The thing the article misses is the "desktop" is irrelevant for such applications, in such environments you are generally using custom written touch based software, so keyboard input is kept to a minimum.

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Anonymous Coward

Doubt I will see too many of them in the coffee shops I frequent.

If anyone sees one in the wild please flag it up, it will be like sighting a dodo.

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Not seen one of these (too new) but have seen earlier toughened panasonics (swivel screen types). Generally in the hands of gas engineers and other people who lug them round in vans full off tools, not coffee shops. As the review says a niche market, but one which will pay a premium for a device which will survive.

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Happy

Re: AC

".....the coffee shops I frequent...." I can only suggest you get out of the cafés and see some of the World. In their niche, the Panasonic Toughbooks are the dog's danglies, prized by the type of people that want to edit video in the Amazon jungle or track whale migrations. Tales of their survivability are legend, including being dropped in a muddy puddle and run over with a JCB and still working! I even recall one story of one that survived a car fire which destroyed the car but only did cosmetic damage to the Panasonic. If the tablets are as tough as their laptop brethren then I predict they will be very popular in their non-cafe niche.

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Re: AC

The only more rugged device I've used were the old Huskies. We had one field engineer who got his Mercedes G-Wagen stuck in a field. He stuck the Husky under one of the wheels to get some leverage, got the Merc out of the hole it had sunk into, drove out of the field, walked back, picked up the Husky, washed it off in a stream and carried on working.

Try doing that with an iPad or Nexus device. ;-)

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The Toughbook hardened laptops seem a great product for that engineer task - I have a feeling that's what the last Openreach guy used to download the excuse of the day from the hive mind. Like you say, just the thing for lugging down manholes, balancing while you re-patch the street cabinet etc.

Personally, I rather like the IP67 feature on the Galaxy S5 (in fact, I bought a waterproof 'Lifeproof' case for my current iPhone). I remember getting worried last December, caught in a heavy Scottish downpour (heavy enough that even under my raincoat my clothes were soaked through) - the phone got a lot wetter than I would like, not to mention the fact I wanted to be able to use it at several points but was too worried about getting it even wetter.

A nice hard-wearing water-resistant tablet would be nice ... but a small Windows one? No thanks. Now, an IP67+ Nexus 7/10?

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Happy

Seen one

Umpire's chair at Wimbledon has a panasonic touch screen device.....

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Windows 8 *PRO*

When even a 7 inch tablet runs pro, surely windows RT is dead now?

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Re: Windows 8 *PRO*

(Here we go again)

Yup, who wants to spend $300 on a tablet when you can get one for only $2600?

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WTF?

Niche hardware --> niche prices

That's about £1445 or US$2445 roughly for a tablet.

That said for those who need such a capability (or rather the business they work for) I'd guess it's not that unreasonable.

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Re: Niche hardware --> niche prices

Cheaper than buying and configuring a new iPad or Nexus device every day or so.

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3G

3G? 3G? 3G?

what is this, 2002?

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Re: 3G

Well, that's the best we've got.

LTE advertised as '4G' mostly doesn't meet the minimum 4G standard that was set in 2008.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/4G#Technical_understanding

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The niche market that Windows 8 appears to have been designed for.

Using out of the box Windows 8 in a few configurations.

Single screen desktop/laptop config.

Jarring and cumbersome. (Certainly justifies this quote from the BBC website: "Windows 8 is as charming to use as a second-hand toothbrush" ) The jumping from a windowed environment, to a full screen app reminds me of Windows 3 or GEM switching to and from DOS applications (though in that case it was a step forward, not back). The screen being touch enabled doesn't really help, it is slower to move your hand from the keyboard, and I'm sure long term use like this would result in RSI. Not a system I would want to live with.

Dual screen desktop.

Much less jarring, since jumping to full screen only obscures one screen. A big enough improvement to remove the desire to throw the machine against the wall. Still not as good as a single screen machine with all the touch stuff removed though. Could live with though.

I have never used a W8 tablet, but I have no reason to believe it is any worse or better than the established mobile platforms.

However, the behavior does make me believe that the original plan was (as suggested in a reg. comment a while ago) to have a tablet that runs mobile apps as a tablet, and sits in the place of a keyboard for desktop use. (My theory is that whoever though this up, forgot to tell anyone else, and left).

The flaw in the design is that the thing would be horrible to use for desktop apps without the desktop screen. (Easily solved if they logically split the screen, which ought to be do-able in the driver.)

Seem a strange niche to bet the company on. Unless they they were hoping to copy the success of the iPad. (However, that product wasn't being sold at the expense of a huge existing product, it was not a risk for early adopters, because it had a decent ecosystem already, and was probably a success, in part because it allowed people to do 80 or 90% of what they used a computer for without all the bother of a computer, meaning the bother of windows in most non techies' heads .)

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Re: The niche market that Windows 8 appears to have been designed for.

@Jess - "I have never used a W8 tablet"

Your reminiscences of Windows 3 are charming, but maybe you should try using a Windows 8.1 tablet before you comment at such length!

The perceived shortcomings of Windows+touch as part of a desktop setup are open to debate but Panasonic are definitely addressing a niche here: users who need a ruggedised touch device because they're not sitting at a cosy desk. Unfashionably perhaps, this Toughbook may benefit from the Windows Start screen (and tiles) because it's a lot easier to poke at with wet, dirty fingers than the traditional Windows UI.

BTW - you appear to be unaware that with the latest update to Windows 8.1 the user can boot to the desktop with none of that 'jarring' you've described. The same update allows the old full-screen apps to be run in a resizable window on the desktop like regular apps, supporting the "split screen" use you described.

I also like iOS and Android devices.

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Re: The niche market that Windows 8 appears to have been designed for.

> maybe you should try using a Windows 8.1 tablet before you comment at such length!

Why? I made no criticism of the use of W8.x as a tablet. My comment was that my expectation was for it to work well for the reviewed device.

My criticism was the use of this chimera on the desktop. Please could you point out where your second (full) paragraph is at odds with my post? At least the implication is that it is a counter argument, whereas I find it totally consistent.

I haven't actually seen 8.1 yet. There was one machine that someone upgraded at work, but it caused so many problems it was quickly reverted back. But given the lip service they paid to the Start Button. They literally put it back, but not the menu which was what people actually missed, I will take nothing on trust. Is it on a par with de-Metroed Win 8?

(By the same token, I didn't actually accept that out of the box Windows 8 was as bad as everyone said, until I tried it.)

Is there a trial version available, like there was for 7 (I liked that, but not enough to pay what they wanted to avoid reverting to XP, it after it expired) and 8?

The really stupid thing is that Windows 8 after removing metro, is probably about the best version of Windows I have tried. (I wish had had the information to do that when the £30 upgrade was still around).

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Re: The niche market that Windows 8 appears to have been designed for.

I sit here with 4 screens and a fairly decent i7 Dell workstation running win 8.1 pro, missing my Toshiba U920t Ultrabook that is having its touch screen fixed. I have used Windows 8.1 in anger on several devices and must admit, once it has all the patches installed, its actually quite usable.

I have used everything since windows 3.0 and Mac OS 6, yes Win 8 is very different to the ones that went before.

My View - MS took a gamble, W8 was not ready, W8.1 is what they should have launched and people would have still been unhappy. I remember the move from 3.11 to 95 and friends having trouble with the new interface, same again this time.

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Re: the move from 3.11 to 95

But that was an improved interface. (Seemed a lot like RISC OS, but with some of the best bits missing).

It was also appropriate for the systems it was shipped with.

And it was relatively easy to use to old way of doing things. (Which is pretty much what Windows 8 is like when you remove the metro stuff).

I expect Windows 8 to work well with a tablet instead of a keyboard, with a regular screen. However on a regular desktop, it sucks, badly. Why they didn't simply have an off switch for the touch stuff, I really don't understand. Without it, it is quite a lean fast system, exactly what many Windows critics have been crying out for.

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Re: none of that 'jarring' you've described

I just had a quick go on a windows 8.1 system.

The start tile is horribly jarring, more so than on Windows 8, because it doesn't disappear when you click on the background of the other screen like it does on Windows 8. (Though I'm sure there's a way to fix this.)

The UI is inferior on the desktop to windows 2000, so while, overall unhacked 8.1 may be better that unhacked 8.0 it is certainly nowhere near as good as Windows 8 play a start menu add on with all the touch stuff removed.

Please note: I am ONLY referring to desktop use.

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When a Dell Venue 8 Pro or Lenovo Mix 2 runs for $300, it doesn't make sense for consumers to go for this Toughpad. Those models run on slower Intel Atom chips but they can run desktop programs fine, not like that neutered beast called Windows RT, and still get 8 hours of battery life. No IP-whatever protection and I haven't seen a toughened case like an Otterbox or a full water/shock-proof case for these models either.

Too bad Dell and Lenovo don't see a market for small, light, tough and cheap Windows tablets. Even pricing them at $500 would make them a better value than most Android tablets or iPads.

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Re: rainjay

"When a Dell Venue 8 Pro or Lenovo Mix 2 runs for $300, it doesn't make sense for consumers to go for this Toughpad......" These are not general consumer tablets, they are specialised for the type of high-risk environments your average tablet would most likely not survive. To a business the ability for workers to carry on doing their jobs without having to get a new tablet every few days makes the added expense worth it. Similarly, if you are the adventurous type heading out into the wild where there aren't a lot of PC stores, you need a tablet that can survive the trip. An Otterbox or similar case simply does not give you that.

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