But this time around I decided to push the boat out and see if ToughBooks really were as hard as Panasonic makes out, or whether they crumble under real pressure. The real pressure came in the form of a car – ok, so a Renault Clio isn’t the heaviest car in the World, but it’s still a lot of weight to be putting on top of a notebook. As you can see in the video, we slowly drove the car over the ToughBook, and then proceeded to drag it along under the rear wheel. Despite the fact that we feared the worst when the whole notebook flipped up as the front wheel rolled over, when we examined it after the ordeal it wasn’t just working, it didn’t have a scratch on it!
Oh, and if you’re wondering why the video cuts between the car crushing the ToughBook and us opening it, that’s just because the camera man (Benny in fact) decided to stop filming before we showed that the machine was still working. I can assure you that it really did survive the car test and we didn’t just show a different notebook operating afterwards.
So, it’s fair to say that this notebook lives up to its ToughBook name, and if there was ever an Ultimate Fighting Championship for portable computers, I doubt very much whether any other machines would want to share the Octagon with the CF-30!
When I visited the ToughBook factory in Japan earlier in the year, I saw first hand just how much development and testing goes into these machines. The kind of punishment that Panasonic puts each model of ToughBook through is so extreme that I doubt I could think of any reasonable test that could get the better of a machine like the CF-30. It’s also worth remembering that being able to survive impact damage is only part of the story.
Of all the components in a notebook computer, the hard disk is probably the most vulnerable. It’s all very well for a notebook chassis to be able to survive being dropped, but if your hard disk crashes as a result, you’re not really any better off. However, the hard disk in the CF-30 is very well protected inside a custom built caddy. The caddy is lined with foam which absorbs shocks and vibration, thus protecting the hard disk. There are also heating elements inside the caddy, which will warm the drive before spinning it up if the ambient temperature is deemed cold enough. This is vitally important considering that hard drives use fluid bearings.
It’s also worth noting that every port and connector on the CF-30 is protected by waterproof and dustproof doors – the smaller ones simply push closed with a rubber seal, while larger hinged doors clip shut and have a locking mechanism to ensure that the don’t open by accident. This is one of the reasons that ToughBooks were used by the US out in Iraq – that sand gets everywhere you know!