Panasonic ToughBook CF-30 Rugged Notebook - Panasonic ToughBook CF-30

By Riyad Emeran



  • Recommended by TR
Panasonic ToughBook CF-30 Rugged Notebook


Our Score:


The front of the CF-30 is dominated by the trademark solid metal handle. It’s fair to say that the handle is one of the defining features of a ToughBook, and there is something decidedly cool about being able to carry a notebook by a handle rather than having to put it in a bag. It’s also good to know that if someone tries to mug you, you can just smack them with your ToughBook, safe in the knowledge that the CF-30 won’t sustain the slightest bit of damage – unlike the mugger! The front of the handle sports a rubber housing where the stylus lives.

Also at the front is the sliding power switch and below that is a hardware switch for the wireless adapters. My review sample came equipped with an Intel Pro/Wireless 3945ABG Wi-Fi adapter and integrated Bluetooth. You can also specify the CF-30 with an integrated HSDPA adapter, which is unsurprising considering that Panasonic has been offering wireless WAN options on ToughBooks for years – as far back as the days of GSM data in fact. You can even have a GPS receiver embedded into your ToughBook, if you need to know where you are at all times.

At the left is another very secure door with two locking catches. Behind this one you’ll find the battery. Next to the battery is a very wide latched door, which hides both a PC Card slot and an Express Card slot. Below the expansion slots is a media bay, which was occupied by a DVD-ROM/CD-RW combo drive in my review sample.

At the rear is a small rubber sealed flap hiding an RS232 serial port – legacy support is important on ToughBooks since many users still have serial based equipment that they need to connect to. There’s also a very large latched flap behind which there’s a D-SUB port, two more USB 2.0 ports, a headphone socket, a microphone socket and a docking connector. There’s a sliding door that reveals only the docking connector, so you don’t need to have the whole cover hinged down when docked.

Panasonic is still sticking with 4:3 aspect ratio screens for the ToughBooks, but I’m not sure how long this will go on for. With the vast majority of notebooks shipping with widescreen displays now, it probably won’t be long before it’s not commercially viable for Panasonic to continue its 4:3 trend. In fact I’m already aware of one ToughBook that will be switching to a widescreen display soon.

The screen in the CF-30 is a 13.3in affair with a native resolution of 1,024 x 768. Now that resolution may seem somewhat disappointing compared to many other notebooks, but you have to remember that this machines is designed to be used outside, in the pouring rain, when it’s covered in mud and dirt, so legibility is the most important thing with this screen. Like the CF-19 before it, the screen in the CF-30 is bright, very bright. With a brightness rating of 1000cd/m2 the screen in the CF-30 can be retina searingly bright, and I found myself having to dial the brightness down a couple of notches for comfortable office use. However, outside, in sunlight, that super brightness really comes into its own, allowing you to see what’s on the screen in almost any lighting conditions.

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

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 -

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