Of course the CF-18 isn’t just shockproof, it’s also resistant against water and dust ingress. Every single port and connector is protected by a flap with a waterproof rubber seal. The hard disk, battery and SD/PC Card Slots are secured with rubber sealed hinged doors complete with a double locking mechanism. The upshot is that if you find yourself caught in the dessert or a torrential rain storm, you can happily carry on working on your ToughBook without fear of it grinding to a halt.
Because of the CD-18’s smaller dimensions, it doesn’t have the solid metal carrying handle that the CF-29 has. Instead there’s canvas carrying strap which feels pretty sturdy – not that it matters if it snaps and the notebook drops to the floor of course. It does still have a solid metal catch that secures the lid in place, giving the CF-18 a suitably industrial look and feel.
Once you release the catch and open the lid you’ll realise the keyboard has had to suffer in order to keep the size down on the CF-18. Although the keyboard has all the necessary keys on offer, they are very small indeed and I fear that many potential users would have a lot of trouble typing on this machine. Personally I found the keyboard a bit of a challenge at first, but once I’d got used to the dimensions I found that I could type at pretty much full speed. One thing that does annoy me about the keyboard though, is that the cursor keys are laid out in a bizarre configuration to save space.
Of course the majority of ToughBook users aren’t going to be using their notebooks for writing copious amounts of text, so even for someone with large hands the small keyboard might not be too much of an issue. Most large companies that hand out machines like this to the mobile workforce will be preloading them with custom applications, rather than office suites.