Panasonic ToughBook CF-52 Semi-Rugged Notebook Review


Key Specifications

  • Review Price: £1270.00

We’ve reviewed a fair few ToughBook’s in our time, from the practically bullet proof CF-29 and CF-30, to the super light semi-rugged delights of the CF-Y5 and plenty more besides. The ToughBook CF-52 I’m looking at today sits very much in the middle of those models, being a semi-rugged machine like the CF-Y5, but with a size and shape similar to those larger and hardier models. It also marks a first for the ToughBook range because, remarkably, it’s the first to feature a widescreen display.

Yes, strange as it may seem, Panasonic has long stood as the immovable object against the irresistible force of change. Clearly though, the immovable object has wobbled just a little in this, the follow-up to the CF-51, which Riyad review back in September 2005. So, what’s changed since then?

Quite apart from the 15.4in, 1,280 x 800 display, it is clear Panasonic has moved the design of this more budget orientated ToughBook closer to the rest of the range. Whereas the CF-51 resembled a thicker, heavier and stronger version of a normal notebook, the CF-52 looks far more like its more hardcore cousins. Most evident in this respect is the addition of a handle, which is included more or less as standard on all but the ultra-portable ToughBooks. This is a very welcome addition, helping to make the CF-52 fairly portable despite its 3.3kg weight.

Another change comes with the various ports and connections on the CF-52. Whereas on the CF-51 most ports were exposed as they would be on any normal notebook, on the CF-52 the majority are hidden under flaps. Touches like the handle and flaps also lend the CF-52 a far more rugged look, though it must be stressed that it is still only semi-rugged, so you can’t drive cars over it and expect it to survive.

What can it survive? Well, the combination of a magnesium alloy frame and shock protected hard drive makes the CF-52 capable of withstanding a fall of 75cm (76.2cm to be precise) on any of the six sides. This may not sound like a great deal on paper, but most ordinary notebooks would baulk at such a fall. Moreover, even if they were to survive, it would be through fortune rather than design.

With the CF-52 you can be safe in the knowledge that it doesn’t rely on any such luck, while the 75cm drop distance is a significant improvement over the 30cm the CF-51 could survive. In addition, the keyboard and touchpad are both splash proof, though that doesn’t mean you should be taking it in the bath or shower with you – rubber duckies need not apply.

Unlike other sites, we thoroughly test every product we review. We use industry standard tests in order to compare features properly. We’ll always tell you what we find. We never, ever accept money to review a product. Tell us what you think - send your emails to the Editor.