Panasonic CF-53 Toughbook 14in rugged laptop
A bit of a hard case
Review Skinny Ultrabooks may be getting all the press at the moment but what it you want a laptop that will withstand the knocks, drops and tribulations of use on the road and in the great outdoors rather than the board-room? Panasonic’s semi-rugged CF-53 Toughbook may be just the ticket.
Ready for the rough and tumble: Panasonic's CF-53 Toughbook
Semi-rugged is the best way to describe the CF-53. It’s water and dirt resistant rather than proof and is designed to withstand drops from around one metre, rather than down mine shafts. Similarly, it will work at temperatures between 60˚C and -20˚C, but set it on fire or put it in an oven at Gas Mark 7 and you are stuffed.
The Panasonic CF-53 Toughbook certainly feels a solid lump. Inside, is a magnesium alloy chassis and the lid is covered with brushed aluminium. Fold the lid down and a solid clasp keeps it shut, so you can take hold of the robust carry handle and swing it around your head while singing King of the Swingers with no fear of it opening.
The lid houses a 14in 1366 x 768 matt screen and it’s one of the brightest I’ve ever seen on a laptop. This, combined with the anti-glare finish, means you can use the CF-53 Toughbook in just about any lighting condition you care to imagine. The rest of the body is made from very sturdy black plastic, which may not be all that pretty but should take some serious abuse before it starts to look scruffy, let alone fall apart.
The keyboard is as solid as a rock but it’s not backlit and some of the keys – especially the space bar and return key – are a little on the small side. The multi-touch track pad and two distinct click-buttons work very well.
In keeping with it’s semi-rugged credentials, spills of 175ml or less are shrugged off like water of a duck’s back. By way of a test I poured half a glass of water onto the keyboard deck, turned it over to drain and carried on typing this review with no harm done.
Next page: Drop box?
For that money I'd also want an SSD, which considering how suitable they are to rugged applications is a surprising omission.
For the price though, I’d really like to have seen a standard-fit webcam
I wouldn't. The reason why a webcam is not standard is probably that a major part of Toughbook customers are in the defense/security sector where webcams are a simple no-go.
I do agree with the backlit keyboard, though, this should be standard on such a device. And there really should have been enough room budget-wise for a SSD instead of a hard drive.
Personally I also miss the availability of a keyboard with trackpoint. Unfortunately Panasonic doesn't offer this (GE has some rugged laptops with it, though).
Why don't normal laptops have handles?
Why? It seems to make sense and even Apple did it once.
Re: For the price...
have you seen the build quailty of a toughbook, My old CF-29 is literally indestructable! Yacht racing its just stamped on, thrown in a locker with anchors, rope, winch handles, etc, its launched off tables with its diplay open and used in torrential rain... as a party peice, i tend to clean its screen under the tap... and have been known to start it sat in the sink with the taps on full, water covering the keyboard... its used as a step, or screen opened, laptop on end and sat on when its standing room only in the train...
The Dell XFR that replaced it is crazy fast compared to it, but i had to treat it with so much care that its cosseted as much as a standard lattitude!
This is only the business rugged version, but a similar amount of care goes into the creation of one of these... its expensive, but without doubt, this is money is money well spent...
Re: Why don't normal laptops have handles?
Because then idiots go outside when its raining and wonder why their notebook computer no longer works.
Anyways a few quid for a notebook computer bag sorted.