Panasonic has announced the availability of the Toughbook 33 rugged laptop, the successor to the company's Toughbook 31, with some upgrades including a display that's aimed at easier use on-the-go.
The Toughbook 33 will be sold only through resellers, and the product launch follows recent moves by Panasonic to overhaul its Authorized Reseller Program for Toughbook products.
"I think [the Toughbook 33] is going to give our customers a lot of options and versatility, a lot of ability for different application compatibility, better display usage, greater mobility, better installation capabilities and excellent speeds and feeds," said Tom Haywood, president of TransCOR Information Technologies, a Georgetown, Mass.-based Panasonic partner. "I think it's really at the pinnacle of rugged mobile technologies at this point."
TransCOR focuses on serving the rugged mobile computing needs of the public safety and utility industries, two key target industries for the Toughbook 33. A common usage for the Toughbook line of laptops is mounting within a vehicle. The Toughbook 31 was initially released in 2010, and Panasonic executives said the timing is right for a new form factor and updated specs for the rugged laptop line.
Key features of the Toughbook 33 include a 12-inch display size with a 3:2 aspect ratio, which enables a 15 percent larger viewing area on the screen compared to the Toughbook 31. Part of Panasonic's intent there is to limit the need for users to scroll up or down, or from left to right, while working on a laptop in their vehicle.
The display also detaches from the keyboard on the Toughbook 33, which the Toughbook 31 doesn't do. That means users can have the additional option of using the display as a tablet outside of their vehicles, such as at a job site or crime scene.
Panasonic has made portability improvements by bringing the Toughbook 33 down to 1.8 inches thick and 6.1 pounds, compared to the Toughbook 31, which is 2.9 inches thick and weighs 7.9 pounds.
The Toughbook 33 also offers operating system options. Customers will be able to get the laptop with Windows 7, which continues to be popular in verticals such as public safety, amid concerns about whether critical applications will transition properly to Windows 10.
"Our commitment is to providing Windows 10, but we have an equal commitment to provide and address the needs of the customer," said Brian Rowley, vice president of marketing and product planning in Panasonic's Toughbook business. "We're very much on board with the path that Microsoft has established in migration [to Windows 10], but we also needed to solve for our customers."