Below the keyboard is a touchpad along with two rubber buttons. The touchpad works admirably in an office environment, but again, this may change once the ToughBook gets soaking wet. However, Panasonic has thought of this and equipped the CF-29 with a passive touch screen. Now, I have to say that I’ve never really been a fan of touch screens, but after using the CF-29 I am completely sold on the concept. Being able to just tap icons and buttons makes navigating Windows and applications so much easier. The screen on the CF-29 is also so accurate that I didn’t once have to use the stylus that Panasonic put in the box (that’s not me in the photo), instead finding that my index finger was more than up to the job.
One of the reasons that I haven’t been keen on touch screens in the past, is that the quality and brightness of the screens always seem to be adversely affected by the touch sensitive membrane. However, the screen on the CF-29 is a superb example. OK, so the colours look slightly washed out and the viewing angle isn’t as good as some other notebooks, but I had no problems working at it for hours at a time. The resolution of 1,024 x 768 may seem low for a 13.3in screen, but for a change, I wouldn’t want it any higher, especially with the touch screen feature.
The chassis of the CF-29 is stuffed to the brim with features. On the right you’ll find three pull down plastic flaps hiding the power connector, a USB port, a modem socket and an Ethernet port. Also on the right is a latched door hiding two Type II PC Card slots and an SD card slot. Finally, there’s the hard drive enclosure – you have to open the lid to get to the release catch for this.
The front of the notebook is dominated by the carrying handle, but the sliding power switch is also here. At the left you’ll find the battery compartment and a large door hiding the multimedia pocket. My review unit came with a floppy drive inside the multimedia pocket, but you could slide an optical drive in there if you wanted to.