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The chassis is constructed from magnesium alloy and the result is a very light notebook considering its size. Panasonic quotes the weight of the CF-Y5 as 1530g, but my sample has obviously been on a diet, because it only weighed 1509g on the TR scales. Not that 21g will make a huge difference of course, but the fact that Panasonic has created a 14.1in notebook weighing around 1.5kg is no mean feat. In fact the CF-Y5 is actually considerably lighter than many notebooks with smaller screens that we’ve reviewed lately, like the Sony VAIO C2SL with its 13.3in screen. With dimensions of 310 x 245 x 45mm at its largest points, the CF-Y5 isn’t even that large. In fact the height is dictated by the fact that the lid has a cushioned area to protect the screen, thus allowing the CF-Y5 to withstand up to 100kg of pressure when closed. Like the other ToughBook Executive machines, the CF-Y5 is also happy with a drop of 30cm – not as good as the fully rugged machines that are good for a drop of around a metre, but at least you’ll be safe if you happen to throw it down on your desk a bit carelessly.
At the right side of the chassis you’ll find an Ethernet port, a modem socket and two USB 2.0 ports. At the front is the power switch, which glows green when the notebook is on , in contrast to most which glow blue. There’s also a hardware switch for the integrated wireless adapters. Finally there’s a switch that opens up the integrated DVD writer. Just like the CF-W5, when the switch is flicked, the right side of the wrist rest pops up to reveal the drive inside. While I was in Japan last week Panasonic showed me that this isn’t just a gimmick – by doing away with a tray or slot loading mechanism, it has managed to reduce the weight of the optical drive considerably. Also, if you push the eject switch the other way, it will power down the optical drive to save battery life.
At the left is a Type II PC Card slot with a spring loaded flap covering it. This is a far better solution than using a spacer, which is prone to getting lost when the slot is in use. Below the PC card slot is an SD card slot, which will be handy if you happen to have a digital camera that uses this ever more popular format. Also on the left is a D-SUB port, the power socket, headphone and microphone sockets, and a connector for the optional port replicator.