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Review Panasonic Toughbook CF-W8 Notebook

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Review Panasonic Toughbook CF-W8 Notebook

By Martina Osztovits 09/10/10
Business Ruggedized.
Panasonic wants to collect points from their customers with an especially stable case that allegedly protects the Toughbook CF-W8 against several damages. Of course, the communication alignment doesn't come too short in this ultra-mobile device for business clients. Panasonic has also kept a matt, and in view of this, suitable VDU workstation in mind. To what extent the Toughbook CF-W8 can also convince in our test is clarified in the following review.

Test Panasonic Toughbook CF-W8
Panasonic Computer Products Europe are specialized on manufacturing especially stable and resistant notebooks. These are, according to the manufacturer, tested in elaborate test procedures in extremely true to life circumstances, whereas a special weight is put on "Mobility, technical superiority and convincing resistance".
Panasonic categorizes its notebooks in view of resistance as full-ruggedized, semi-ruggedized, and finally, business ruggedized. The CF-W8 belongs to the last category. What this means in regards to drop, spill and pressure resistance in detail, will be comprehensively described in the following categories.

Case

Opposing the trend to build extremely thin notebooks, the rather massive case for a 12.1 inch device struck us right away after unpacking it. This is also confirmed after measuring it. With this, it belongs to the front runners with a construction height of 48.3 millimeters. Because Panasonic has selected a display in a 4:3 size, the depth of 214 millimeters applies, and the breadth of 272 millimeters turns out accordingly. However, not only the massive size has an influence on the device's stability but also the choice of materials. The manufacturer states that the enabled notebook should be able to swallow drops from a height of up to 76 cm on the its bottom and drops of up to 30 centimeters from other angles in a disabled state, whereas the manufacturer has tested it in 26 different angles, due to the use of a magnesium alloy. Pressure loads of up to 100 kg/f, that correlates to 980 Newton, aren't supposed to be a problem for the CF-W8, either. Because we handle our prototypes with care, we didn't reproduce these strains.
Those who come to the conclusion that the CF-W8 has to make a plump impression already due to its construction, are wrong. Moreover, the silver-colored surfaces give it a certain elegance.
The surface feel is pleasant due to the magnesium alloy. Also, the slightly beveled design with a lower construction height along the front edge makes ergonomical typing possible.
As expected, the torsional stiffness and pressure test turned out by and large to our satisfaction. The only weak point was shown under point pressure on the right wrist rest, underneath which the optical drive is found.
The opening angle is restricted to ca. 140 degrees due to the angled hinges fastened on the display. The hinges may appear small but they do a good job. The display barely teeters after adjusting the opening angle and they handle even shaky work surfaces (train journey) perfectly. Panasonic has omitted a transportation closure but, vice versa, the grip of the hinges is also sufficient to keep the notebook closed. But you shouldn't consider trying to adjust the opening angle single-handedly.
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Connectivity

Wie wir testen - Gehäuse
Primarily, the innovative position of the optical drive jumps at you. It's opened upwards via a slider on the front edge and enabled at the same time. Closing the DVD drive without a data carrier, disables it after a few minutes to save power. This solution is pleasing in view of operation. Unfortunately there are disadvantages in regards to the right palm rest's pressure resistance, as already mentioned above.
Additionally found on the front edge are the power slider, which lights up green at activation, the headphone and microphone socket, the WiFi switch and Status LEDs for ECO mode, battery and optical drive.
The left side accommodates a VGA port, a docking port, a PC card slot and a SDHC cardreader. The compatible mini-port replicator can be connected to the docking port, which extends the interface supply by 4 USB 2.0, and simplifies the fast connection to an already existing work surrounding with a VGA and LAN port.
On the right there are three USB 2.0 ports, LAN (RJ-45) and a modem connection (RJ-11). The rear has to kept free from interfaces due to the opening mechanisms. A narrow gap above the keyboard's left becomes visible when the battery is removed.
Basically, the connectivity is, in view of the size, good and the distribution can be called felicitous as all potentially permanently occupied interfaces are found more in the rear of the side edges.

Front: Power switch, headphone, microphone, WiFi switch, status LEDs, optical drive
Front: Power switch, headphone, microphone, WiFi switch, status LEDs, optical drive
Right: 3x USB 2.0, LAN (RJ-45), modem (RJ-11), Kensington lock
Right: 3x USB 2.0, LAN (RJ-45), modem (RJ-11), Kensington lock

Rear: Battery
Rear: Battery
Left: Power socket, VGA, docking, port / fan, PC card slot, SDHC cardreader
Left: Power socket, VGA, docking, port / fan, PC card slot, SDHC cardreader
The Toughbook CF-W8 can be connected to the Intel 82567LM Gigabit Network connection (10/100/1000MBit) LAN via a cable. In places with a poor infrastructure, the modem connection (RJ-11) might just make internet access feasible.
Aside from an Intel Wireless WiFi Link 5100 AGN (abgn) module there is also Bluetooth 2.0+EDR available, for wireless communication.
Optionally, but not in our prototype, the CF-W8 can also be attained with an UMTS/HSDPA (Gobi) broadband modem for fast wireless internet connections. Equally optional, a fingerprint reader can be selected, whereas you have to then waiver on the Bluetooth module.
We found a printed product description, a modem cable, the Panasonic Wireless WAN (HSPA) SW included in the prototype's package. The long standard warranty of 36 months - with exception of expendable items such as the battery - deserves a special mention.
Microsoft XP Professional with Service Pack 2 (in English) was preinstalled on our prototype. But the CF-W8 is also available with Windows Vista Business Service Pack 1. Various preinstalled utilities support the user in the device's setup, operation and maintenance: Battery tools, the PC Information Viewer, electronic manuals, the Fan-Control Utility, the Icon Enlarger (a magnifying utility), tools for the optical drive (drive letter assignment and energy savings configuration) and the Power Saving Utility.

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