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Panasonic ToughBook CF-U1 Rugged UMPC - Panasonic ToughBook CF-U1

By Riyad Emeran
Reviewed:

Awards

  • Recommended by TR
Panasonic ToughBook CF-U1 Rugged UMPC

Summary

Our Score

9/10

Review Price free/subscription

The display itself is touch-screen, allowing you to tap and drag icons using the supplied stylus. However, the touch-screen is so good that it's perfectly usable with your finger, despite the relatively high resolution. The screen is also viewable in a variety of environments, including bright sunlight or heavy rain - exactly as you'd expect from a ToughBook.

A plethora of buttons flank the screen on either side. On the left are the aforementioned zoom controls, along with a very useful scroll control - basically up/down buttons that will scroll through your active window. To the left of the screen are also indicator lights for when the device is plugged into the mains, when the wireless adapters are active and when battery one is charging. On the right hand side you'll find the power button and four assignable application buttons, allowing you to create shortcuts to your most used programs. There are also indicator lights for power, HDD activity and battery two.

You've probably already spotted that I mentioned two batteries in the paragraph above. You see the CF-U1 has dual two cell batteries, providing a quoted battery life of nine hours, which should get most field workers through their gruelling day. However, the real advantage that the two batteries bring to the party, is hot swap functionality. So, as one battery runs out, you can swap it for a fresh cell, while the second battery is powering the device. This is yet another example of how Panasonic really understands its target market, after all, you wouldn't want to run out of juice while you're up a telegraph pole!

Below the screen is a full alphanumeric keypad, but like the Samsung Q1 Ultra, the QWERTY keyboard has been split in half. This is a good idea, since it allows you to easily reach each and every letter of the alphabet with your thumbs. It's surprisingly easy to type on the CF-U1 and pretty much everyone in the office that picked it up commented that the keypad was far more usable than they would have imagined. However, whereas the Samsung Q1 Ultra has its keys either side of the screen, Panasonic's decision to place the keys below the screen has allowed for the inclusion of numbers, symbols and even cursor keys.

At the rear of the CF-U1 is a fingerprint scanner for biometric security, along with an integrated camera. The latter will no doubt be appreciated by many users, especially those who are assessing damage or the progress of a project. There's also a leather hand strap, making for very secure handling while tapping at the screen. Obviously holding it like this isn't ideal for typing, but many users will be using bespoke applications that require stylus taps rather than text input.

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lams 007

July 9, 2008, 7:19 am

I´d like to have on. But i don´t need it.It's impressive. I think Panasonic ToughBook are also made for the army that have to be totally rugged.

Hans Gruber

July 9, 2008, 4:09 pm

"The Atom platform gives this device a decent amount of grunt, while the dual battery setup makes for impressive operation times," how long exactly?





Where's the DVD drive? ;)

Riyad

July 9, 2008, 4:24 pm

Try reading page three which mentions the dual two cell batteries and nine hour battery life - you tend to miss a lot of the detail if you just read the verdict and nothing else :)

ilovethemonkeyhead

July 9, 2008, 9:07 pm

hot swappable batteries are a brilliant idea - i find it incredible nobody else had thought of implementing it. i feel like going for one of these over an asus eee pc ;)

Hans Gruber

July 10, 2008, 12:58 am

I did actually read the whole article but clearly missed that bit. Typical I should miss the important bit. Thanks anyway.

Yakuzah

July 10, 2008, 7:39 am

Hey


No Word about the GPS? , i know its optional but i dont see it on any web site the review or sell them.

Riyad

July 10, 2008, 1:53 pm

I know that Panasonic offers GPS as an option on most of its ToughBooks, but I didn't see the option listed for the CF-U1. That said, Andy is attending the official launch of the U1 tonight, so he can ask about the GPS module there.

Yakuzah

July 10, 2008, 5:41 pm

Hey Riyad


take a look on this pathetic video make by panasonic about the new U1.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...


i was asking about the gps because i saw it on the video.

Riyad

August 1, 2008, 7:45 pm

They showed that video at the launch - it's hilarious :)





Yep, there's definitely a GPS module available, but I don't know how much it costs. Hopefully all this info will be up on the Panasonic site soon.





However, Panasonic informed me today that the pricing they originally gave me was wrong, and the device is actually 50% more expensive, which is annoying to say the least. I'm not convinced that the price increase will put off the target market, but Panasonic definitely needs to get it's pricing right in the first place, especially since I made a point of how affordable it was in the review!

Max Clifford

August 27, 2008, 1:50 pm

Warning, the lead time for first units has already slipped to END of September. Only orders placed early this month stand any chance of being fulfilled then too.


Useful guy at www.toughnrugged.com for any UK buyers. Prices and options all listed.

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