At the left is the power socket, a docking bar connector, a D-SUB port for connecting to an external monitor and headphone/microphone sockets. There’s also a PC Card slot, but no ExpressCard slot. This may seem strange, but Panasonic tends to only switch to newer technology when its customers ask for it, and to be honest, there’s no compelling reason for ExpressCard over PC Card right now anyway. Below the PC Card slot is an SD card slot, which will also happily read SDHC media – ideal if your digital camera happens to take SD cards.
Panasonic has made the most changes under the hood, and the CF-Y7 is definitely better specced than the CF-Y5 before it. Being based on Intel’s Santa Rosa platform, the CF-Y7 uses the GM965 chipset, which boasts an 800MHz FSB. However, the FSB is dynamic, so it will only run at full speed when necessary, clocking down at other times to save on battery power. The Intel Core 2 Duo L7500 is a low power dual core chip running at 1.6GHz and sporting 4MB of Level 2 cache, making it a much faster part than the Core Duo L2400 in the CF-Y5, despite sporting a marginally slower clock speed.
The weakest aspect of the CF-Y5 was the pitiful 512MB of memory that came as standard, and I’m happy to say that Panasonic hasn’t made that mistake this time around. The CF-Y7 ships with 2GB of RAM as standard, and given that my review sample had Windows XP installed, rather than the memory hungry Vista, it simply flew through pretty much every application I threw at it. There’s an 80GB hard disk, which isn’t massive by today’s standards, but should still be more than adequate for the target audience. Of course, as with all ToughBooks, the hard disk is mounted in a shock resistant caddy for extra protection against knocks and bumps.
While I’m on the subject of knocks and bumps, there’s another major improvement over the CF-Y5 – robustness. This latest line of ToughBook Executive models, including the CF-Y7 can withstand a drop from 76cm while open and operational. It’s no coincidence that 76cm is the height of an average desk, so you’ll never have to worry about knocking the CF-Y7 off your desk – or having a jealous colleague “accidentally” knocking it off!