Panasonic [MC] announced a handful of new Toughbooks this week, refreshing the venerable line of go-anywhere, drop-me notebooks. The three new models come in three different form-factors: a lighweight notebook, a tablet PC and an ultra-portable PC.
According to Daniel Longfield, an analyst at Frost & Sullivan quoted in Panasonic's press release, "The growing trend of portability in computers — lighter weight, longer battery life, advanced wireless capabilities — needs to be balanced by true durability." Right now, Panasonic is leading the pack in the tough-and-mobile segment, nearly without competition.
The Toughbook F8, one of the new models announced this week, is relatively lightweight at 3.7 pounds and has a surprisingly big 14.4-inch display. It uses an Intel [INTC] Core 2 Duo processor and boasts 4GB of RAM, and also has a 160GB shock-mounted hard disk.
The Toughbook W8, the "ultraportable" of the new group, as a 12.1-inch LCD and an integrated DVD multi-drive. It weighs in at about 3 pounds with its 120GB HDD, can last seven hours on a single battery, and runs a Core 2 Duo processor like its bigger brother.
The company's new tablet, the T8, is 3.3 pounds and also has a 12.1-inch screen. The tablet sports stylus input, like most do, but also has screen-rotating software baked in. The T8 runs an ultra-low-voltage version of the Core 2 Duo, and otherwise sports the same specs as the W8: 120GB of storage and a seven hour battery.
All three devices willl be available in November, though prices have yet to be announced.