Toughbooks&' Lives Get Longer

The Secaucus, N.J.-based unit of the global electronics and IT product maker is shipping a new line of ruggedized Toughbook notebooks offering as much as nine hours of battery life, while providing a lighter form factor than past models.

The company said its Toughbook T4 and Toughbook W4 highlight its next generation of durable notebooks. Both models start at a street price of about $2,100.

The average industry battery life is three to four hours—battery life for the 3.3-pound Toughbook T4 is 9.5 hours and the 2.8-pound W4 offers six. Older Toughbooks, which are built with ruggedized exteriors, can weigh 5 pounds or more, and have always exceeded the industry average.

Customers and partners “wanted to give up a little bit of weight for more battery life,” said Sheila O&'Neil, Panasonic&'s director of channel sales.

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As with other notebooks, battery mileage on the Toughbook T4 may vary depending on use—word processing consumes less battery life than watching a DVD, for example—but other aspects of the new systems are also grabbing attention. “It&'s surprisingly light and durable for [its weight],” said Brian Solomon, vice president of CDCE, a Yorba Linda, Calif.-based solution provider and Toughbook dealer. “A battery used to weigh more than the notebook.”

Solomon noted that some users may still prefer previous Toughbook form factors, which include systems that have a handle built right into the unit so it can be lugged around like a briefcase. “A lot of younger people and executives prefer the thinner notebook and lighter notebook,” he said.

O&'Neil said with the lighter design, the new Toughbooks will not have as low a failure rate as heavier units, but that the failure rates will still be relatively low at 5 percent.