updated 08:15 am EDT, Wed June 25, 2008
Panasonic Toughbook CF U1
Panasonic on Wednesday made its promised Japanese and North American introductions of the Toughbook CF-U1. The handheld is the first-ever rugged ultra-mobile PC based on Intel's ultra-efficient Atom processor and uses a 1.33GHz version of the chip to both run Windows Vista Business at reasonable speeds as well as to extend the U1's battery life: a unique twin-battery system gives the Toughbook between six and eight hours of real-world use and lets users hot-swap batteries for even more use without turning off the system.
The system's hardened design includes a rubberized shell around its 5.6-inch touchscreen which is both capable of surviving a roughly four-foot drop as well as blocking off unused ports, guarding it against dust and water. The storage itself also helps protect the system; a 16GB or 32GB solid-state drive gives the handheld skip-proof storage and has the incidental benefits of improving battery life and cutting back on load times.
Panasonic also gives the CF-U1 relatively quick 802.11n Wi-Fi, 1GB of memory, Bluetooth, and an SD card reader. The system will be available to a wide audience but will be chiefly pitched to field workers when it goes on sale for Americans in August at a $2,499 price.