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On the right edge you'll find the modem socket, the Ethernet port, three USB ports and a D-SUB connector for hooking up to an external monitor. At the front is a power/eject switch for the DVD writer, a hardware switch for the wireless modules and the main power switch. The left side is dominated by the docking port, but there's also a PC Card slot, an SD card slot, headphone and microphone ports and the power socket.
Performance wise, the CF-F8 will have no problem turning its hand to most tasks. Whereas ToughBooks used to employ previous generation hardware, the basic spec of 2.26GHz Core 2 Duo CPU and 3GB of RAM in the CF-F8 is current, and makes for a very capable platform. But the CF-F8 really excels when it comes to battery life. Considering that this machine isn't using an ultra-low voltage CPU, its MobileMark Productivity score of five and a half hours is very impressive indeed. In fact that's exactly the same MobileMark score that the Sony VAIO TT turned in, and that machine was equipped with a 1.2GHz ultra-low voltage CPU.
As usual, all that ToughBook rugged build quality and impressive battery life comes at a price, and the CF-F8 will set you back £1,838.85. That's quite a chunk of change for a notebook these days, even for one with some unique features. I was initially told that the CF-F8 would be cheaper than this, but issues with the Euro / Yen exchange rate have resulted in price hikes for many Japanese products, including this one. This makes the CF-F8 significantly more expensive than the outgoing ToughBook CF-Y7, despite the fact that the older machine had a higher resolution screen.
All that said, the ToughBook CF-F8 is still a very good notebook and represents a positive evolution of the ToughBook Executive line. The inclusion of the carrying handle is a nice touch, while the superb battery life and light weight will win this machine many friends. Add to that the rugged build and water resistance, and the CF-F8 still makes a strong case for itself, as long as you're not scared off by the price.
The ToughBook CF-F8 sits nicely between Panasonic's fully rugged notebooks, and the thin and light W Series machines. Despite the chunky design and carrying handle, it still weighs in at only 1.66kg, making it lighter than many 12.1in models. It's a shame that Europe doesn't get the higher resolution screen that the Japanese units have, and the pricing seems high, even by ToughBook standards. However, if you want a notebook that's light, rugged, easy to carry and has great battery life, you'd be hard pushed to find something better.
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