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Panasonic ToughBooks are pretty well known these days. Most people understand that if you need a notebook that can withstand a thermo-nuclear detonation, you need to look at a fully rugged ToughBook, like the pretty much indestructible CF-30 - the one that we drove a car over last year! But Panasonic also does a good trade in thin and light notebooks - in fact the ToughBook Executive range is the best selling thin and light notebook range in Japan, but here in Europe adoption hasn't been quite so widespread. That said, for anyone who wants a light notebook that's also very robust, the latest ToughBook Executive range is well worth considering.
Sitting in front of me right now is the brand new ToughBook CF-Y7, which is the replacement for the CF-Y5 that I reviewed about a year ago. I absolutely loved the CF-Y5 for a number of reasons, not least of which was the fact that you could pour water over the machine while it was powered on and it wouldn't miss a beat - a stark contrast to Apple's MacBook which tends to fry its internals at the slightest drop of liquid on the keyboard! So, the CF-Y7 offers everything that the CF-Y5 did, and then some? Well, yes in some respects at least.
The ToughBook CF-Y7 is a 14.1in notebook measuring 310 x 245 x 44mm (WxDxH), with a traditional 4:3 aspect ratio screen. Despite not being widescreen, the display on the CF-Y7 is a very good one, with a commendable native resolution of 1,400 x 1,050, which gives you a significant desktop real estate advantage over the common 1,280 x 800 resolution sported by 13.3 or 14.1in widescreen displays. The screen doesn't have a glossy coating, which may please corporate users, who, to be fair, are the target market. You also don't have to worry about the screen looking washed out in bright sunlight, because it is, very bright indeed. In fact, on battery power you can happily drop the brightness to the lowest level and still work comfortably, while ensuring maximum battery life.
The viewing angle on the screen is also surprisingly good, so you'd have no problem showing a colleague something on your screen, or giving a presentation to one or two people. Also, the lighting is even across the whole surface and there's no hint of the light bleed that plagues many notebook displays. OK, so the colours don't look quite as vivid as they would on a notebook with a high contrast, glossy coating, but this isn't a machine designed for watching movies or playing games.