Panasonic Announces New 'Rugged' Toughpad Tablets

This "rugged" Toughpad series includes a 10-inch A1 and 7-inch B1 device.

The Toughpad A1 offers a multi-touch, daylight-viewable screen, enabling outdoor workers to view data and operate the device regardless of lighting, and the case is designed to withstand a wide range of temperatures and weather conditions.

The A1 also offers an active digitizer, allowing for signature capture and handwriting recognition capabilities.

Both the A1 and the more modest B1 tablet were designed using the same durability standards as Panasonic’s Toughbook PC product line, according to firm. Both have MIL-STD-810G military certifications to hold up when dropped, as well as ingress protection ratings for resistance to dust and water.

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Panasonic President Rance M. Poehler noted that, while the outdoor or extreme mobile market remains unchartered by many device manufacturers, it’s an area where Panasonic is seeing continued growth.

"For many manufacturers this is new territory, but it’s currently one of Panasonic's growing product categories. Because of this, we have the unique ability to apply our market knowledge, intellectual property, engineering and R&D resources to deliver an Android-powered tablet that is radically different from the largely consumer-based devices on the market today," Poehler said in a statement. "The Toughpad tablets are developed from the inside out to address the needs of the business users. As a result, our customers will get the most rugged, reliable and enterprise-appropriate tablets in the world – helping to drive efficiency and productivity in ways that were never possible."

In addition to durability, Panasonic claims the Toughpad series was designed "with security in mind."

The 10-inch A1 tablet contains embedded security features such as hardware and software encryption, enhanced VPN, and dual factor authentication. The device is compliant with FIPS 140-2 and HIPAA for use within Federal government or healthcare environments.

Both the A1 and B1 can be administered with a custom set of low level controls, enabling IT to secure devices from unauthorized use and distribute apps in a one-to-many environment.

The Toughpad A1 will be available in the spring of 2012 starting at $1299, while the Toughpad B1 will be released later in 2012, with more details coming closer to availability.

Both devices will be available through authorized Panasonic resellers, and the firm feels the Toughpad’s unique market will open up new doors for VARs.

"With our new family of Toughpad tablets, we’re providing resellers the opportunity to let their customers experience the advantages of tablet computing without sacrificing the durability and security that comes with deploying a consumer-grade tablet in the field," said Sheila O’Neil, vice president, channel sales, at Panasonic in an email statement to CRN. "Additionally, the Toughpad family is designed to meet durability certifications and ingress protection ratings consistent with other Toughbook devices. We believe these new tablets will create new opportunities for resellers in additional markets such as retail, field sales, government and healthcare to name a few."