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Panasonic ToughBook CF-30 Rugged Notebook review




  • Recommended by TR
Panasonic ToughBook CF-30 Rugged Notebook


Our Score:


Back in November 2005 I reviewed the Panasonic ToughBook CF-29 and proclaimed it the ultimate rugged notebook. In fact the CF-29 was so good, that Panasonic has only just replaced it with this, the CF-30. Like the CF-29 before it, the CF-30 looks like it could survive an earthquake, and while looks can often be deceptive, in this case, I rather think that they aren’t.

You see the CF-30 really is, as the saying goes, tough as nails. In fact you could probably hammer nails with this notebook – something that I should really try the next time I’m reviewing one of these beasts. If you look at the video embedded in this page, you’ll see that the amount of punishment that the CF-30 can take is nothing short of staggering.

If you’ve been reading TrustedReviews for a while, you will probably have seen some of the previous ToughBook reviews and know that I have a tendency to put them through the grinder. I generally take the machines out to the car park and drop them on the ground, stand on them and pour water all over them while they’re switched on. To date, every ToughBook has survived the abuse I’ve thrown at it, so this time I decided to turn things up a notch.

Like the CF-29, the CF-30 can withstand a drop from around a metre high, while operational. The ironic thing is that the solid metal handle incorporated into the chassis makes it almost impossible to drop this machine, unless you’re very, very clumsy. I imagine that Panasonic is thinking more about it being knocked off tables, or perhaps even being left on the roof of a car that is then driven off – things like that aren’t uncommon with field workers!

Having been to Japan and seen the ToughBooks being tested, I know that they are dropped from a metre high from multiple angles, but that doesn’t stop me wanting to do the same myself – just to be sure. As you can see from the video, the CF-30 didn’t break a sweat being dropped onto the floor. Likewise, the CF-30 didn’t seem in the slightest bit worried when Andy ran up and jumped on its lid – in both instances, opening the lid revealed that the machine was still running Windows XP and was oblivious to the punishment it had suffered.

++Insert Video Here++

Next I opened up the CF-30, switched it on and proceeded to pour a jug of water all over it. The CF-30 isn’t just splash proof, it’s pretty much waterproof – as long as you’re not planning on using it on a diving expedition! This is why The AA equips all its breakdown engineers with ToughBooks, since they can still use them in the pouring rain (which is often the case in the UK), without worrying about them blowing up. By contrast, we had an incident in the office a few months back where some coffee was spilled on a MacBook and within seconds the entire notebook was dead – style over substance perhaps?

Island Living

January 27, 2009, 2:33 am

I own one of these and the first thing people usually say when they see it is: What is it? The second question is usually: How much did it cost? The answer to that is so potentially embarrassing it is best to change the subject immediately.

This is a monstrously expensive gadget. For one of these you could buy ten netbooks, throwing one away every time it gets broken. However it is not as monstrously heavy as you might think; at 3.8 kilos it is only three times heavier than, for example, the Asus EEE 1000.

However weight and cost are not what this fantastic machine is about. This is a computer for people whose CV is headed with NASA motto "Failure is not an Option". If that's the sort of work you do and those are the demands you make on a computer, this is the one for you. The battery really does keep going for seven hours so if you carry a spare you can survive a 14 hour working day without looking for mains power. You really can read the screen in any conditions and the keyboard is good as well. The build quality and robustness really do inspire confidence that it will survive anything. The only component that lets it down is the trackpad which is very small and laborious to use; carry a mouse.

The best kept secret about this laptop is that you can buy it direct from Panasonic's depot in Cardiff along with all the spares, most of which are substantially less expensive from this source than so-called dealers. Panasonic have an entire department dedicated to selling and servicing this product so don't waste time and money buying anywhere else.

This computer is the real deal, built for road warriors not road wimps. Worth buying? Yes.


November 16, 2013, 1:14 pm

I needed one to buy how much the price and were did i find it?

Leonid Pilnik

October 27, 2015, 9:05 am

Look at some funny tests by Forbes with Toughbook CF-30 http://www.tos.by/test/26.10.2...

Leonid Pilnik

October 27, 2015, 10:09 am

Forbes staff will help you make sure Toughbook strength. And for those who still doubt
whether this is so, I recommend to watch some funny test from Forbes with the
Toughbook CF-30. We look and we see - http://www.tos.by/test/26.10.2...

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