When it comes to mobile computing Panasonic has carved out a good niche for itself. The ToughBook range is pretty much the de facto standard when it comes to rugged mobile computers, and not without good reason. While other manufacturers have tried to make existing notebooks more rugged, Panasonic took the opposite approach and created rugged machines from the ground up. As such it has put Panasonic in a great position when it comes to creating mobile computers for specific markets, mixing its penchant for rugged build and flexible bespoke configurations to produce products the meet their customers' requirements exactly.
Last year Panasonic was one of the first manufacturers to show off Intel's Atom platform in its ToughBook CF-U1 UMPC. This proved to be a great device for anyone who needed a fully rugged device, but didn't want the bulk of a full size notebook. Now Panasonic has worked with Intel again to produce the ToughBook CF-H1 Mobile Clinical Assistant. And with Intel pushing its Digital Health initiative hard, it must be pretty happy with what Panasonic has brought to the market.
At its most basic level the ToughBoook CF-H1 is a digital tool for use in a medical environment and can be used for anything from reading patient notes, to accessing medical databases. However, in the true ToughBook tradition, this device has quite a few tricks up its sleeve.
First and foremost the CF-H1 is a fully rugged device, which means that it will withstand drops from almost a metre high (90cm to be exact). That means that even the most clumsy doctors or nurses won't have to worry about dropping the device, or having it fall off a patient's bed or table. It's also waterproof, which is nothing short of essential in the medical environment.
The waterproof nature also means that the device can be regularly wiped down with alcohol swabs to reduce the chances of carrying germs from one patient to another. The fanless hardware design also cuts down on the chance of airborne germs being transported by the CF-H1, since there are no vents sucking air into the chassis. The touch screen design means that there's no keyboard to get dirty and germ ridden, while the chassis is completely sealed, with the power socket and battery compartments hidden behind locking doors.
It's the 10.4in screen that dominates the CF-H1 - with standard 4:3 aspect ratio and a resolution of 1,024 x 768. Of course this is a touch screen panel, but it can also be used with a digitiser pen, which ships in the box. The screen itself is very easy to read, even in bright fluorescent lighting, which is a good thing since that's the kind of environment where it will be used. Of course the built-in soft keyboard in Windows is as bad as ever, but in reality this device is likely to be loaded with bespoke applications and the end user probably won't have to go near the desktop.