I’m currently sitting in the Panasonic Centre, in Tokyo, having just walked out of the global press conference for the ToughBook range. Regular readers will know that I quite like Panasonic’s ToughBooks, since they offer a level of durability and reliability that other machines simply can’t match. While the ToughBook Executive models, although not as indestructible as the fully rugged devices, still provide peace of mind for the notoriously clumsy, that other notebooks can’t.
My favourite ToughBook Executive range was the Y Series, so I was therefore quite concerned when, prior to the press conference Panasonic let slip that the Y Series notebooks would no longer be available outside of Japan. Luckily, my fears were allayed when the press conference started and I found that the Y Series was being replaced by a completely new line, the F Series. First out of the gate in the new F Series is the CF-F8 which was launched today.
The ToughBook Executive CF-F8 differs significantly from the ToughBook CF-Y7 that it replaces, but the changes that have been made are good ones. First up, Panasonic has finally decided to go with a widescreen display aspect ratio - something that the company insisted its customers didn’t want, when I met with engineers at the ToughBook factory in Kobe last year. This year, it seems that customers have been asking for widescreen displays with higher resolutions, and true to form, Panasonic has obliged - after all, the customer is always right!
There was some confusion regarding the resolution of the screen in the CF-F8, with the English translation stating that it would be 1,280 x 800, while the Japanese slide clearly stated 1,440 x 900. A bit of digging after the presentations revealed that the models launching in Japan will most definitely sport the higher resolution, but there was some debate as to whether the 1,440 x 900 display would be carried over to Europe. A further chat with a European Panasonic representative revealed that we should be getting the higher resolution screen, when the CF-F8 launches in Europe on 22nd October, but I’m still awaiting definite confirmation.
But the screen aspect ratio and resolution are far from the only changes. The CF-F8 is a completely new chassis design, and represents the first ToughBook Executive model to incorporate an integrated handle. Now, you may thing that a rather odd feature for a thin and light notebook, but it really isn’t. Being able to carry your notebook by a proper handle is a real bonus, especially if you find yourself running to a meeting with a cup of coffee in one hand, and your notes/pen/laptop in the other. And, being a ToughBook, the CF-F8 doesn’t need the protection of a bag - like the CF-Y7 before it, the CF-F8 can survive a drop from 76cm, so if it slips out of your hand while you’re carrying it, there should be no problem.