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Panasonic has been making notebooks for a long time, but despite this you may not have come across the ToughBook brand before. The reason for this is that Panasonic models tend to attract a certain type of buyer, a buyer that is more concerned with durability than design and performance. To get an idea of who the ToughBooks appeal to, next time you see a BT engineer working on a junction box in the street, take a look over his shoulder and it's a near certainty that he'll be working on a ToughBook.
As the name suggests, ToughBooks are built to be, well, a bit tougher than your average notebook. In fact the fully rugged units sported by field engineers are built to withstand impact, water, dust ingress and just about any other environmental hazard that mobile computers might be subjected to. But not everyone wants to carry around a large, heavy, metal clad notebook, no matter how strong it might be. With this in mind, Panasonic created semi-rugged ToughBooks.
The semi-rugged ToughBook may not be impervious to water, or be able to withstand a car rolling over it, but it does give the user a bit of extra peace of mind without being too oversized or heavy. The ToughBook CF-51 is Panasonic's latest semi-rugged notebook and at first glance it doesn't look too different to any other notebook. OK, so it's a little larger than most, and weighs more than some, but on the whole it just looks like a notebook.
But it's what's beneath the skin that sets the CF-51 apart from many notebook computers. To start with both the base and lid are reinforced with magnesium alloy to protect the screen and internal components. It's this strengthening that allows Panasonic to guarantee that the CF-51 can withstand a drop from a height of 30cm. That might not sound like much, but on the occasion when you drop an expensive piece of kit, you'll notice that it seems to take an eternity before it hits the ground, probably never to work again - quite simply, any kind of shock protection is a good thing.