You might think that sturdy and consumer friendly are mutually exclusive qualities in a laptop. Panasonic has proven that notion wrong with its Toughbook CF-52. This semi-rugged notebook keeps the tough-as-nails qualities of its predecessors while adding features like discrete graphics and cutting-edge processing power. But keep in mind, the add-ons add up fast, and a fully equipped laptop could set you back quite a bit.
The CF-52’s thick magnesium alloy chassis qualifies it as semi-rugged. Panasonic claim it can withstand a one-foot drop onto plywood. The unit has a spill-through keyboard with a porthole that drains through the bottom of the laptop. (At Panasonic’s request we didn’t test these features, so you’ll have to take their word for it.) Plastic snap-on covers shield the CF-52’s four USB ports and Express Card 34 and PC Card slots from water and dust. The hard drive and dual-layer DVD burner are easily removable to protect data in a pinch. All these precautions add up weight-wise, but the CF-52’s briefcase handle makes it a little easier to lug around the 7.4-pound load.
The CF-52 also offers plenty of consumer friendly features. Its 15.4-inch widescreen features 1,920-by-1,200 resolution: overkill for that size but a godsend for multimedia tasks. Panasonic didn’t cut corners, opting for a discrete ATI graphics card, the newest Centrino Duo parts, and 1GB of RAM. Battery life is fantastic, lasting 5 hours 15 minutes on MobileMark 2007. My review system came with an optional fingerprint reader and smart-card slot module. An internal EV-DO Rev A cellular modern is another great add-on.
The CF-52 integrates some nifty media aspects into a sturdy laptop. If you’re willing to pay a premium, this notebook promises to see you through some tough times.
Specs: 2-GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T700 processor; 1GB DDR2 SDRAM; 120GB, 5.400-rpm hard drive; 512MB ATI Mobility Radeon X2300 HD graphics card; 15,4-inch 1,920-by-1,200 widescreen; 7,4 pounds system weight (9.2 pounds travel weight); 85-Wh, 7.65-Ah, lithium ion battery, Windows XP professional.Panasonic Toughbook CF-52 ReviewPrice range: $3,300 streetCheck This Out:Sony VAIO VGN-TZ150N: Laptop’s Beauty Is Only Skin-DeepASUS U1F: An LED-Lit UltraportableHp Compaq 6910p: Corporate Chic To Go