The CF-W5 and CF-T5 are direct replacements for the CF-W4 and CF-T4 that I reviewed previously. Both the new machines look almost identical to their predecessors, but things are quite different under the skin. For a start both machines now use Intel’s Napa platform, although with Core Solo chips, rather than the dual core Core Duo processors. The 12.1in screen remains the same, with a 1,024 x 768 resolution, while the hard disk capacity has risen from 40GB to 60GB.
There’s built-in 802.11a, b and g wireless, but the big news is that there is an HSDPA 3G module available. This means that you'll be able to get online at 1.8Mbit/sec from almost anywhere - ideal considering that ToughBooks are usually dragged from pillar to post.
As with the previous models, the CF-W5 and CF-T5 differ by the former having an integrated optical drive and the latter having a touch screen. I would still like to see one of these machines with both a touch screen AND an optical drive – I made this very clear at the event, so hopefully we’ll see this happen with the next generation.
Panasonic also expanded its thin and light, semi-rugged range with the introduction of the CF-Y5. This model is larger and heavier than the other two, due to the 14.1in screen, but despite this it still tips the scales at only 1.5kg – although the HSDPA module adds an extra 150g to that.
The CF-Y5 is also notable for using a Core Duo dual core processor. Panasonic has gone for the L2400, which is a Low Voltage version of the 1.66GHz chip. I think that the dual core nature of the CF-Y5 could make it a very attractive proposition and I’m certainly looking forward to getting my paws on this particular model.
Panasonic quoted very impressive battery life for all three models, but I’ll reserve my judgement on that until I’ve tested them myself. That said, if Panasonic’s track record is anything to go by, I expect the battery life on all three models to be excellent.
Panasonic was keen to show that even though these machines are only semi-rugged, they can happily withstand a cup of liquid being poured all over the keyboard. Apparently all of the major components are sealed, while gullies run through the chassis allowing water to run straight through the case and out through the bottom – I will of course be testing this when I get my review samples!
Retail products should start shipping in early October, so check back in a couple of weeks to see a full review of these new ToughBooks.