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

By Riyad Emeran



  • Recommended by TR
Panasonic ToughBook CF-U1 Rugged UMPC


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When it comes to connectivity, Panasonic has pretty much every base covered. As standard you get an Intel Wireless WiFi Link 5100 adapter that supports 802.11a, b, g and Draft-N. There's also Bluetooth 2.0 + EDR, so you'll be able to transfer files to and from suitably equipped devices. And if you positively have to be connected anywhere and anytime, you can specify a built-in HSDPA module - again, very handy when you're up a pole/tree/half constructed building. You can even get the CF-U1 RFID equipped, which means that it can act as your access key for certain areas or warehouses.

Despite this being a preproduction sample, and me promising Panasonic that I'd take extra special care of it, I couldn't help but be a little clumsy with it, just for the sake of testing of course. Unsurprisingly, the CF-U1 didn't so much as blink, no matter how many times I dropped it or failed to catch it as Hugo tossed it to me. Panasonic guarantees a drop height of 1.2 metres, which is slightly higher than its most rugged notebooks - the extra height is probably due to the solid state drive. I also gave the water resistance a bit of a test, by leaving the CF-U1 out in the car park during a rain storm - yet again it didn't seem in the least bit bothered by its harsh environment.

There's no denying that the CF-U1 is pretty small by ToughBook standards, but it's still a fairly chunky UMPC. Measuring 184 x 151 x 57mm (WxHxD) and weighing in at 1.06kg, it's not particularly svelte or feather light. However, as with all fully rugged ToughBooks, the CF-U1 is built to survive copious amounts punishment, because that's what the target customer needs.

Traditionally fully rugged ToughBooks carry a price tag that borders on the scary. This is offset by the fact that if you really need a fully rugged notebook, that cost will be a small price to pay for your peace of mind. Surprisingly though, the ToughBook CF-U1 is comparatively affordable. The basic price of £900 excluding VAT is very attractive, especially since the majority of customers will be businesses that will claim back their VAT. Of course that price rises depending on what options you wish to equip the CF-U1 with, and that just highlights another key selling point of the ToughBook range - customisation. Panasonic is well aware that no two ToughBook customers are the same, and therefore there is no "standard spec" so to speak. All the fully rugged ToughBooks are built to the customer's needs, which includes the ability to have your own disk image loaded.

So, not only is the ToughBook CF-U1 far smaller and lighter than any other fully rugged ToughBook, it's also very affordable. This will make it a very attractive proposition for any field workers that don't do a lot of typing, and even then, the built-in keypad is very usable in short bursts. Not only will the CF-U1 potentially cut purchase costs for corporate customers, it will also save field workers the hassle of carrying a large and heavy notebook around when they don't need one.

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? ;)


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 :)


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.


July 10, 2008, 7:39 am


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


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.


July 10, 2008, 5:41 pm

Hey Riyad

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

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


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 for any UK buyers. Prices and options all listed.

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