While they are not for everyone, rugged laptops have a specific place and need in the field. They allow you to have a laptop that can not only withstand extreme temperatures, but can be bashed around without you having to worry about breaking it. However, they generally come with the added cost in terms of money, weight and bulk. Panasonic’s Toughbook series is an established standard when it comes to such laptops, and with the Cf-54, they have given us a ‘best of both worlds’ laptop by going down the semi-rugged route. The result is a laptop that is under 2kg and under 30mm thick, making it an option that is a lot easier to carry around with you, in or out of the field.
We reviewed the Full HD model, which comes with the following specs:
- Intel® Core™ i5-6300U vPro™ processor
- Windows 10 Pro
- 14″ IPS Full HD (1920 ×1080 pixels) Active Matrix (TFT) LCD
- Sunlight-viewable glove-enabled capacitive touchscreen* (up to 1.000cd/m²)
- Light weight and slim design (approx. 2.1kg and 29.8mm)
- 4GB RAM (max. 16GB) and 256GB SSD (128GB SSD is optional)
- 3x USB 3.0, 1x HDMI, 1x LAN and SD card slot as standard
- Options, our model didn’t come with any of these:
- Flexible configuration area (DVD or second battery or smartcard reader or PC card)
- Flexible configuration port (2nd LAN or d-GPS or 4th USB 2.0 or Rugged USB)
- Long battery life of up to 11 hours, with hot swap and second battery (up to 18 hours)
- True serial port, VGA and 4G LTE as an option
- Operating temperature of -10 °C to +50 °C (HDD/SSD heater as standard)
- Robust honeycomb style magnesium casing with carry handle
- Withstands drops from a height of 76cm
- Shock and vibration protected for vehicle docking
- 3-year standard warranty
- Dimensions: 345mm x 272mm x 29.8mm, 2.1kg
Look and Feel
The first thing that is noticeable about the device is how light and thin it is for a semi-rugged device. Okay, it is semi-rugged, and doesn’t come with any IP ratings, but it can still withstands knocks and drops from 2 and a half feet, and take a bit of kicking.
On the outside, you notice the Panasonic as well as the Toughbook logos on the front. The handle which can be retracted or pulled out to carry it is a nice tough, despite the laptop being so light. The top is a hard bit of metal which feels as such. While closed, you can see three LEDs near the top that give you charging and power status.
At the bottom is a rating plate with lots of details such as serial numbers, etc, as well as a docking connector.
At the back is the vents as well as a protected slot that has a USB 3 slot as well as output for HDMI. More ports exist behind hinged doors on the right side, in the form of USB ports as well as SD card slot, and a switch to flick between airport mode and connectivity.
Open the device up, and you see the full HD touch screen, which is 14″ wide. Below that is a row with LEDs that give you various status, such as Caps Lock, Num Lock, WiFi, SD Card, Hard Drive, as well as a power button.
Below is a standard keyboard, which has been packaged quite compact, meaning some of the keys are on the side.
Below the keyboard is a touch pad which is a decent size, and comes with two extra buttons below to allow you to use it if you’re wearing gloves.
Being an i5 with 4GB of RAM means that it offers you a pretty decent performance. The SSD also ensures that the system boots up pretty quickly and it can process data quickly. In my day to day usage, I found this to be a pretty decent laptop with no real sluggishness.
The system is provided as a semi-rugged laptop. That means that it doesn’t come with meters of drop protection, nor does it pack in IP protection. however, it still offers a bit, as it is rated for drops from 76cm, and it comes with protective caps on top of all the ports to give you some protection there as well. This means that there is a definite peace of mind packed in, but this isn’t rated to be used in a storm.
Keyboard, Touch Pad and Touch Screen
The keyboard on this is actually quite good. The keys are good, have plenty of travel and they feel quite nice to type on.
The touch pad is equally good, and is like a normal touch pad. This means that you can’t use it while wearing gloves. The same goes for the touch screen. It can’t work with gloves, but it is easily used when you are not.
For a semi-rugged option, this has the best input option in terms of comfort that I have seen.
Battery Life on the device comes rated at 11 hours. We found it to be a bit short, more around 8 hours on our test. Still enough to last a day.
Can it be used as a regular laptop?
You can’t normally say this about most semi-rugged and rugged laptops, but this one is actually light enough and thin enough that it can totally be used as a regular laptop. It also packs in enough power to be a total portable solution while you go from meeting to meeting in between your field visits.