If you’re looking for a rugged and powerful laptop/convertible that will last you all day and then some, the Toughbook CF-19 is where it’s at. In fact, Panasonic’s claim of 10 hours is pretty much spot-on, as in our test it managed nine and a half hours.
(40 percent screen brightness, wireless radios disabled, mixed productivity)
Of course, it’s easier to provide this kind of battery life when you have a chassis as large as this to work with, and do keep in mind that using Wi-Fi and/or 3G will drain the battery quicker. The battery is a total piece of cake to swap out for a charged spare though. Simply unlock the protective flap and you can pull the battery out smoothly and insert another one just as easily.
This is where the going gets tough, so to speak. The cheapest we could find the Panasonic Toughbook CF-19 at time of writing was around £2,700 inclusive of VAT, with a previous-generation ‘Sandy Bridge’ Core i5 CPU, 4GB of RAM and a 320GB hard drive. Insane? Only if you don’t need it.
For comparison, a similarly rugged Dell Latitude laptop with similar specs and touch will set you back around £2,550, but that’s without a Wacom stylus or 3G – and of course that’s for a regular laptop too, as Dell doesn’t offer a rugged convertible.
Interestingly, Getac has a very similar convertible laptop to the Panasonic CF-19 in its line-up with its V100. Unfortunately, they’re also priced in the same ball park, though you can find the Getac V100 for about £300 cheaper.
As such, the CF-19 with its Panasonic brand reputation actually represents decent value. The one fly in the ointment really is that low 1,024 x 768 screen resolution, which can be a pretty severe limitation especially when working with modern software – frankly, we’re not sure it’s worth the advantages that the transflexiveness of this display brings.
Panasonic offers a less rugged 12-inch convertible which overcomes this limitation in the £1,700 CF-C1, but you’re giving up on some of that legendary durability. Getac seems to be a good alternative once again, as its V200 maintains fully rugged status with a 12-inch 1,280 x 800 screen. However, it also comes with a £3,300 minimum price tag…
Fully rugged devices obviously occupy a niche in the market, intended for those who face potentially hostile working environments. Emergency and military services, field workers, those into extreme sports and the like are obvious markets, but this kind of device is also great for people who want to be able to work in harsh weather conditions or simply be sure that, no matter how clumsy they are with their laptop, it (and its data) will remain intact.
The Panasonic Toughbook CF-19 certainly doesn’t disappoint in this regard. It’s tough as nails and built like a brick. It’s absolutely stuffed with connectivity and features while offering superb battery life. And it has very little competition as it’s the one of a very few big-brand, fully rugged convertible tablet/laptops that’s widely available. However, its low screen quality and resolution are disappointing in a device this expensive.