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New Panasonic Toughbook Runs Full-Scale Applications

The Toughbook CF-U1 is an ultra-portable computer as powerful as a desktop machine but can be used by mobile workers.

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The handheld Toughbook CF-U1 is Panasonic's first to use the Intel Atom processor and weighs in at just 2.3 pounds. With a 5.6-inch touch screen and a 16-GB solid state hard drive (SSD), the CF-U1 is the smallest Toughbook to run full Microsoft Windows XP or Vista operating systems instead of a more streamlined mobile operating system. A 32-GB SSD is optional.

The result, said Kyp Walls, director of product management, Panasonic Computer Solutions Company, Secaucus, N.J., is a fully rugged ultra-portable computer that is as powerful as a desktop machine but can be used by mobile workers across verticals like government, health care and public safety.

"It's going to be a very exciting opportunity for [resellers] to expand their market into a whole new area. One of the things that differentiates the Panasonic Toughbook U1 is that it enables great performance and great capabilities because it can run full-scale applications," Walls said. "They will now have the ability to run the same sort of back-office applications that they were running in the office, but they can do it if they're on the street."

The design and feature set were influenced by customer feedback, he said. "This product was actually designed by our customers. We talked to hundreds of customers. We've been working on this thing for over two years. They said they want long battery life and to be able to hot-swap batteries. You can change a battery without having to turn it off or plug it in."

Other features include optional bar-code scanners, a 2.0-megapixel camera, fingerprint scanner, GPS and RFID readers. Panasonic is looking to develop a handheld or ultramobile rugged certification for partners and has started training its Premier partners on the Toughbook CF-U1.

"We really think this is going to allow resellers to open up a whole new area of usage for users who had been stuck in a pen-and-paper age because they couldn't run the applications they needed in the field and couldn't carry the kinds of devices that were powerful enough to run the applications they needed," Walls said.

"We think that for both our resellers and our ISVs, it's really going to allow them to equip the next frontier of the mobile workforce, turning field workers into knowledge workers."

The Toughbook CF-U1 is expected to ship in mid-August and will cost $2,499.

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