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Thankfully the extra horsepower hasn't come at the expense of one of the ToughBooks best features - battery life. Panasonic claims eight hours battery life for the CF-74 and that's exactly what I got out of it. That's very impressive by any notebook standards, but considering that the CF-74 is built to be used out of the office, it really does deliver. Also, considering the sort of customer base that the ToughBooks have, it makes sense for Panasonic not to embelish the CF-74's capabilities - unlike some other notebook manufacturers. In fact, if you did have a little down time, you'd be able to fill it by watching several movies on one battery charge - the CF-74 managed a DVD playback time of over six hours!
As with any specialist product, ToughBooks don't come cheap, and this CF-74 will set you back a hefty £2573.25 including VAT. However, you are getting a rock solid, well built notebook that can handle all but the very harshest environments and clumsiest users. In fact, the real beauty of the CF-74 is that for many prospective CF-29 buyers, it's a better and cheaper option. Yes, the CF-29 is a tougher beast, but unless you really need that level of indestructibility, I think you'll find that the CF-74 is a better bet.
The CF-74 may not be quite as tough as the CF-29, but it's faster, lighter and has even better battery life. Unless you really do need to use your notebook in the most extreme environments, the CF-74 should suit your needs, while giving that piece of mind that only a truly rugged notebook can.
The lack of a touch screen is a little disappointing, and the price is, of course, very high. However, when push comes to shove, you either need a rugged notebook or not, and if you're the kind of user that needs to know that your computer and data will be fine no matter how many times you drop it, bash it or spill water on it, then it really is worth considering one of these.
Finally, it's also good to know that if some cockney toe rag corners you in the boiler room and asks you where your tool is, you can smack him round the head with your ToughBook before replying “Who’s the daddy now?”.
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