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Panasonic ToughBook CF-52 Semi-Rugged Notebook - Panasonic ToughBook CF-52
Using the CF-52 is generally without hassle. You'd forgive Panasonic for not not producing the best keyboard in terms of feel, however typing on the CF-52 is better than you might imagine. Keys have a very crisp response to them, finding a nice balance between weight and lightness of feedback. The touchpad and mouse buttons too are good to use, though if anything the pad could afford to be a little larger. It's also worth remembering that the keyboard does have some eccentricities, with a small Return key and Spacebar, while the Delete key is placed on the bottom row of the keyboard. Overall, though, these issues can be overcome with familiarity and otherwise there's little worth complaining about.
Having touched upon the design changes and durability, the CF-52 is also a surprisingly attractive machine. OK, this isn't a Sony VAIO, but the combination of hardy silver on the outside and sleek black on the inside is a pleasing one, while the sturdy build obviously lends it a sense of quality as well. Another nice touch is the colour coding on the keyboard, with auxiliary keys finished in black and main ones in dark grey.
Connectivity is good too, with a generous selection of USB ports and some legacy support too. On the right edge you'll find both ExpressCard (54mm) and PC Card slots, along with a four-pin FireWire port and two USB ports - all of which are tucked behind flaps. Next to these is the DC-in, though this remains uncovered.
Moving to the back, Panasonic has packed in plenty more connectivity, again all covered by flaps. All in all there are two USB ports, D-Sub, Modem and Ethernet ports as well as a Serial port, which engineers using older tools will certainly appreciate.
On the left edge you'll find a card reader and the optical drive, which is easily removable. This means that, though the drive is somewhat exposed, it can be safely removed when it isn't entirely necessary. Card formats supported by the reader include SD, MMC, MemoryStick, MemoryStick Pro and xD.
Finally, on the front, there are connections for both an external microphone and headphones, while just behind the large handle there's an On/Off switch for the wireless components.