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 high brightness of the display is all the more impressive, considering that it’s a touch screen. Ok, so the colours have that slightly washed out look to them, just like with all touch screen displays, but the big advantage is navigation. There’s no need to worry about the touchpad getting muddy or wet, simply stab the stylus, or even your finger at the screen to get things done.

Like previous fully rugged ToughBooks, the keyboard is a bit of a mixed bag. The keys themselves have a decent amount of travel and a strong spring back, which suits fast typers like myself. It’s also good to see the Ctrl key located at the bottom left, where it should be – this makes it easy for anyone that uses a lot of keyboard shortcuts. However, the keyboard layout is US, just like previous units, which means you get a small Enter key, rather than the traditional large Return key seen on UK keyboards. You’ll also find the @ key where the “ key should be and vice versa. It’s not a massive problem though, especially since I imagine that the majority of CF-30s won’t be used for writing massive documents.

The touchpad is smooth and responsive enough, although I far preferred using the touch screen. The two rubber buttons below the touchpad work well, and are easy to press even when the machine is soaking wet. Below the touchpad are indicator lights for Caps Lock, Num Lock, Scroll Lock, Multimedia Pocket (where the optical drive is), Hard Disk and MP Power.

If you do need to use a notebook out in the field all day, the CF-30 will keep you going for a good while. Running Mobile Mark 2005, the CF-30 managed a battery life of six hours 37 minutes – that should keep you going away from a power source for most of the day. The battery life isn't quite as good as the CF-29, but that wasn't running a dual core CPU. General performance isn’t going to set the world on fire, but ToughBooks are about robustness and usability in almost any environment rather than raw speed.

The CF-30 weighs a not insubstantial 3.8kg, but it doesn’t feel massively heavy when you’re holding it by the handle. And with dimensions of 302 x 285 x 70mm (WxDxH) it’s not small either, but again it doesn’t feel big or bulky – maybe because you don’t need a case to carry it around.

With a base price of £2,971, the CF-30 is far from cheap, but when push comes to shove, you either need a notebook that can survive this kind of punishment or you don’t, and if you fall into the former camp, the cost is, to some degree, irrelevant. Also, having witnessed the amount of research and testing that goes into the ToughBook range, it’s easy to see where that money is going – especially when you consider that the vast majority of notebooks on the market are not actually built by the company who’s name is plastered on them.


The ToughBook CF-30 is an amazing piece of technology – a notebook computer that can survive an immense amount of punishment. The fact that we managed to drive a car over a ToughBook and it just kept working, speaks volumes about Panasonic’s build quality. Put simply, if you need a mobile computer that can survive pretty much anything, this is it.

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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