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Panasonic ToughBook CF-W4
If the ToughBook CF-29 is the Land Rover Defender of rugged notebooks, then the CF-W4 would have to be the Ferrari F430. The CF-W4 is a semi-rugged notebook, so it's not as big, heavy and tough as its big brother. Instead it's far thinner, lighter and sleeker, just like an F430. Of course just like the F430, the CF-W4 can't take as many knocks as its more robust sibling, but that's not to say that it can't withstand the trials of life as a notebook computer.
Being a semi-rugged notebook, the CF-W4 can't survive a drop of one metre like the CF-29 and CF-18. However, Panasonic will guarantee that it can withstand a drop of 30cm, which is more than you'll get with most other notebooks. The great thing is that Panasonic hasn't had to make the CF-W4 any larger or heavier to make it that little bit more robust. The CF-W4 can also withstand up to 100kg of pressure - so you could stack things on top of it, or use it as a seat cushion if you really wanted to.
The CF-W4 is one of those notebooks that causes a bit of a stir when you take it out. Its svelte dimensions will definitely get admiring glances from your colleagues and once you open the optical drive, you'll probably find that you have a crowd around you. To be fair, the optical drive placement is nothing new, the CF-W2 that I looked at a couple of years back pioneered this, but it hasn't lost any of its impact. Basically the DVD-ROM/CD-RW drive is located under the right side of the palm rest - flicking a switch at the front of the machine causes the whole right side of the palm rest to flip open and reveal the drive. Another nice little trick is that flicking the switch the opposite way will actually power down the optical drive, thus saving you battery life if you're not using it. It's a little disappointing that this is a DVD-ROM/CD-RW combo drive and not a DVD writer, but it depends on how important DVD writing on your notebook is to you.
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