updated 07:50 am EDT, Thu September 25, 2008
Toughbook F8 W8 and T8
Panasonic early today revamped its semi-hardened notebooks with the launch of its 8-series Toughbooks. The 14-inch F8, 12-inch W8 and the similarly-small T8 are all the first in their particular class to carry a Qualcomm Gobi chipset that gives access to 3G cellular Internet access over either EVDO or HSPA with supporting providers. They also take advantage of Intel's newest low-power Core 2 Duo chips and the newer GMA 4500MHD graphics and 802.11n Wi-Fi to match.
The F8 has the performance of a regular notebook thanks in part to the new use of a small-package but otherwise full-power 2.26GHz Core 2 Duo. The system as a whole is one of the toughest in the new collection with a built-in handle and a ruggedized 160GB hard drive, but weighs relatively little at 3.7 pounds. It also includes a full DVD burner and 1GB of memory for its estimated $2,499 price when it arrives in November.
The smaller W8 preserves the DVD drive but opts for an ultra-low voltage 1.2GHz Core 2 Duo that draws the battery life out to seven hours; the smaller case also reduces the weight to three pounds, though the W8 still keeps a 120GB hard drive at its heart. The T8 has the same performance and storage as the W8 but drops the DVD storage in return for a touchscreen tablet shape with a hand strap to use the system without resting it on a surface. Both systems will sell for $2,099 and should ship at the same time as the F8.