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Internally, the CF-52 is a fairly unremarkable but perfectly capable dual-core system. Based on the Intel GM965 Express chipset, it utilises a Santa Rosa spec Intel Core 2 Duo T7100, which clocks in at 1.8GHz and has a 800MHz Front Side Bus, though it has only 2MB L2 cache compared to the 4MB found on the T7300 and above. Still, for general usage this is a perfectly capable CPU that'll run a few programs concurrently without grinding to a halt.
Unsurprisingly, however, with the CF-52 representing the cheaper end of the ToughBook range, some compromises have been made. Primary among them are the RAM and hard drive specification, with a slightly disappointing 1GB of 667MHz DRR2 RAM and an 80GB SATA drive respectively. On balance, though, these are acceptable compromises. Few are likely to exhaust the 80GB provided, while you can specify an upgrade to 2GB of RAM if you really need it.
Since we're on the topic of compromises, the move to a widescreen display does throw up some discussion points. With the CF-52 sporting a par for the course 1,280 x 800 panel, it actually allows for significantly less desktop real-estate than the model it's replacing, which featured a generous 1,600 x 1,200 native resolution. Effectively then, though the aspect has changed from 4:3 to 16:10, you're in fact getting fewer vertical and horizontal pixels to play with. Oh, dear.
But, how bad is this really? When looking at this it's worth considering two things: a) that the CF-51 was exceptional for its high resolution display and b) that the CF-52 has a rather different focus. Whereas the CF-51 was intended as a more rugged office bound alternative, it's clear from the addition of a handle and the various cover flaps that Panasonic intends the CF-52 to be a more mobile solution for car bound sales reps and the like. As such, the extra real-estate isn't as necessary as it might be in a static office environment, where the CF-51 obviously excelled. Aside from the resolution, however, the display is a good one. It's bright and easy to read, producing decent whites, while the finish is of the non-reflective variety.
That said, Panasonic has indicated that it will be producing a CF-52 with a 1,920 x 1,200 resolution 15.4in screen! I doubt that even the most desktop real estate hungry user could complain about that - although the price for the high resolution screen is yet to be divulged.
Other components are all fairly standard fare. There's Gigabit Ethernet for wired networking and, though wireless is restricted to 802.11a/b/g, Draft-N Wi-Fi is hardly necessary in this instance. Bluetooth 2.0 EDR is also included, which is useful for those using devices on the move, while an 8x DVD+/-RW drive and 56k Data Fax modem are standard.
Not included in our model are options for embedded HSDPA, as well as a Trusted Platform Module with SmartCard authentication or a Fingerprint Reader. All of these obviously cost extra, though HSDPA in particular would be a wise investment if you can justify the extra £330.
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