updated 02:25 pm EDT, Wed July 16, 2008
Pana Toughbook Centrino 2
Panasonic on Tuesday became the next notebook maker to update its line for Intel's Centrino 2 platform with two new Toughbook models. The semi-rugged, 15.4-inch Toughbook 52 and its matching 13.3-inch Toughbook 74 both get the faster processors, 1,066MHz bus speeds, and faster Intel graphics of Centrino 2 as well as a boost to 802.11n Wi-Fi and 160GB of storage.
The designs of the systems themselves are identical and are created to resist most shocks and spills with a magnesium shell, internal connections that bend rather than break, and a keyboard that resists splashes. A handle lets either be carried without a case in the field.
Either Tougbook will feature Intel's Wi-Fi Link 5000-series WLAN adapter built into the Centrino 2 architecture, offering speeds that are eight (Link 5300) and five (Link 5100) times faster than 802.11a/g Wi-Fi, at up to 450Mbps and 300Mbps, respectively.
Optional for either Toughbook will include another feature made possible by the Centrino 2 design, including switchable graphics, which will allow users to choose between integrated graphics for efficient and prolonged battery use, or discrete graphics for graphics-intensive, 3D performance. The other main option will be Intel's Turbo Memory, comprised of a 2GB module that ups system performance while lowering power consumption by reducing disk loading times.
The Toughbook 52 will start at $1,949 and also have a second, unspecified configuration that adds dedicated graphics in addition to offering a quicker processor costing $2,849. A single version of the 74 will ship for $3,199. Both are due in August after Intel introduces the necessary graphics and wireless chipsets.