If you’re a regular reader of TrustedReviews you will have seen several reviews of Panasonic’s ToughBook notebooks. These reviews tend to stand out as I take said notebooks out the to car park and drop them on the ground from a metre high. I sometimes then douse them in water just for good measure. You see Panasonic’s take on the notebook market is very different from the rest of the industry – the key to the success of the ToughBook has been survival in the most inhospitable environments.
To highlight the benefits of the ToughBook range, Panasonic invited me out to its assembly facility in Wales, where I found out that there really is no such thing as a standard ToughBoook specification. In fact Panasonic doesn’t even begin configuring a ToughBook until a customer has actually placed an order. Not only does this mean that the company isn’t left with unsold stock, but more importantly, that each and every customer can configure their notebook to suit their exact needs.
Unfortunately the facility in Wales really is an assembly and configuration centre, while the really cool manufacturing and testing work gets done in Kobe, Japan. This is where the magnesium alloy casings are constructed, the patented protective hard disc enclosures are built and where all the torture testing is performed. I did mention to Panasonic that it would be great to see the facility in Kobe, so, fingers crossed I’ll be able to bring you a report from there sometime soon.
The Wales facility also handles the ToughBook support for the whole of Europe, and it was interesting to hear that more support calls are now made through the Internet than via the phone. It was impressive to see that there were technicians on hand who could perform repairs at board level on these machines – while I was there I watched someone solder a new component onto the motherboard, rather than just rip the whole board out and replace it.
As well as showing off its setup in Wales, Panasonic also unveiled its new line of ToughBook Light machines. This series of notebooks are described as semi-rugged, so you wouldn’t want to drop them from one metre in the car park, that’s for sure. However, these little machines are still guaranteed to survive a drop from 30cm, so if you throw it down on your desk a little hard, you don’t have to worry about whether your data will still be there.