Panasonic Unveils 20-inch, 4K Resolution Toughpad Tablet In Big Hollywood Splash

Panasonic used the W Hotel in Hollywood, Calif., to highlight the media, design and luxury focus of its new Toughpad 4K UT-MB5.

The Toughpad 4K, which was initially introduced in January at CES, is heading for general availability in either December or January (there were conflicting reports of the official release date) with a list price of $5,999.

What does one get in a $6,000 tablet PC? A big and very sharp screen, for one. The Panasonic Toughpad 4K has a 20-inch LCD screen with a 3,840-x-2,560 pixel display. That resolution, dubbed "4K," and gradually finding its way into very high-end flat-screen displays, is in this device powered by an Intel Core i5-3437U vPro processor with Nvidia GeForce 745M GPU.

Also included is the Windows 8.1 Pro OS, 256 GB of SSD storage, 8 GB of memory and a 1,280-x-720 pixel camera. With all that, however, the device weighs only 5.3 pounds and has a 2-hour battery life.

The coming-out party for the Panasonic Toughpad 4K UT-MB5 took place around the rooftop "cement pond" of the W Hotel in downtown Hollywood.

Attendees were mainly executives from several vertical industries that Panasonic hopes will adopt the new Toughpad 4Ks, as well as several "beautiful people" walking around showing off the devices and some less-than-beautiful members of the press trying the devices out.

Rance Poehler (right), president of Panasonic System Communications Co. of North America, was the host of the evening's party.

Poehler told CRN the Toughpad 4K is the world's only 20-inch, 4K tablet PC, and features 10 million pixels. "It's like looking through a window," Poehler said.

Panasonic, with its business-to-business and channel-only approach, expects the device to be sold primarily to business users requiring the highest resolutions, Poehler said. "Sure, there will be some consumers who will want to buy it who don't care about the cost," he said.

Poehler admitted there is little 4K resolution content available, but said that cameras and applications to create content are available. The devices also can display standard resolutions with no difficulty, although the high pixel count would probably result in jagged edges with low-resolution illustrations, he said.

Panasonic set up five small open rooms around the swimming pool in an attempt to show the Toughpad 4K in "realistic" settings. The first was luxury retail, where a 3-D image of a camera could be turned to any angle by using the device's touch screen.

The Panasonic Touchpad 4K is shown here with an architectural drawing, which can be used to zoom in and out using the screen's 10-point multitouch capability.

The typical buyer might be an architect who can take the Toughpad 4K to work sites with all the drawings in the device, Poehler said. "That 20-inch screen is about the size of the paper drawings architects use now," he said. "And they can show such things as the quality of the wood grain on the materials they are using."

The Touchpad 4K, when paired with other Panasonic 4K resolution devices including a production monitor, is suitable for use in video production scenarios.

Here, the Touchpad 4K is shown running AutoCAD 2014 design software to produce high-resolution images that could be used to help design new products.

A professional photographer worked with a professional model in a mock photo studio to show the high-resolution imaging capabilities of the Touchpad 4K.

Poehler, the opening speaker introducing the new Touchpad 4K, told the audience that Panasonic has been producing notebook PCs since 1996, and sells ruggedized notebooks with the Toughbook moniker. Panasonic gets about 80 percent of its revenue from its business-to-business (B2B) product lines, and Panasonic's new president, Kazuhiro Tsuga, has a B2B background, Poehler said. "So with this device comes enterprise support," he said.

Panasonic now has 20-inch, 10-inch and 7-inch models in its Toughpad line, with other form factors coming, Poehler said. "We intend to lead in tablet PCs for the enterprise."

Dan Russell, Intel's director of business client solutions, marketing, said the IT industry is going through a major transition because of the increased emphasis on mobility. "The way you are moving to be productive is forcing the transition," Russell said. "What you are doing with the devices is changing the way they are being built."

Russell said Panasonic has become a leader in developing mobile solutions. "They are bringing multiple devices together, and solutions together, so you don't have to think about the technology behind it," he said.

The Panasonic Toughpad 4K is unique among all the tablet PCs in the market, said Shawn Sanford, senior director of lifestyle marketing at Microsoft, which provided the device's Windows 8.1 operating system. "Freedom," Sanford said. "We want you to be able to work how you want and where you want."

The Toughpad 4K provides that freedom, Sanford said. "I can carry it around without it weighing me down," he said.