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Panasonic ToughBook CF-F8

Panasonic quoted a battery life of over six hours, measured using MobileMark 2007. That’s pretty impressive for a 14.1in machine, but going by previous ToughBook Executive models, it doesn’t come as a major surprise. Panasonic has always invested a lot of resource into battery technology, with features like the Eco mode extending the overall life of the battery, by not allowing it to be over charged. This kind of feature is starting to appear in other notebooks now, but Panasonic was first out the door with it.

Of course all the usual Centrino 2 enhancements come part and parcel with the CF-F8. So, wireless connectivity is well catered for, with 802.11a, b, g, and n present - the latter providing for extremely fast wireless speeds, assuming that you have a suitably equipped router or access point. As with existing ToughBook models, an integrated HSDPA module will be an option for anyone who needs to be connected at all times - that would be me then. Also, WiMAX was mentioned, which means that Intel’s Echo Peak Wi-Fi/WiMAX module will also be an option. Bluetooth 2.0+EDR also comes as standard.

As well as withstanding a drop from 76cm, the CF-F8 can also handle up to 100kg of pressure on its lid, without incurring any damage to the screen. This particular feature was designed to cope with the notorious Japanese subway system, where people are literally squeezed into trains like sardines. Apparently it’s quite common for notebook screens to get damaged, when hundreds of people are pushing against the bag or backpack holding them - the CF-F8 however, should be able to withstand such torture. Luckily we’re not subjected to quite such an ordeal on the London Underground, but it’s good to know that even on a particularly bad day, the CF-F8 would survive.

In Japan the CF-F8 will be available in many different colours that can be chosen by the customer at point of order. Unfortunately, UK customers will not be given the option of multiple colours, but I can confirm that the CF-F8 will initially ship with a black lid, which is a first for a ToughBook Executive model in Europe.

Despite the addition of the carrying handle, Panasonic has still managed to keep the CF-F8 incredibly light. At 1.66kg it’s the lightest 14.1in notebook with an integrated optical drive - even the Samsung X460 that launched earlier this week is heavier at 1.84kg, and that’s a pretty damn light 14.1in machine itself!

Panasonic quoted an MSRP of €2,060 for the CF-F8, which is a fair bit more expensive than the CF-Y7 was when I reviewed it last year - assuming you go by the awful exchange rate we’re getting with the Euro right now. However, I was told that efforts would be made to bring the price down before the European launch, but obviously no promises could be made. If Panasonic can get the price down a bit, this could be a very tempting proposition for the heavy duty notebook user.

I should be getting my hands on a full UK retail sample of the CF-F8 very soon, so check back for the full review, including the usual ToughBook torture testing of course!

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