Panasonic takes swing at rugged rivals as it launches latest Toughbook tablet PC

By Eric Lai, Computerworld |  Mobile & Wireless, intel atom, Panasonic

Panasonic Computer Solutions Co. today released the latest model in its 13-year-old Toughbook line , a rugged Windows tablet with a power-sipping Intel Atom processor.

The Toughbook H1 Field is designed for emergency response professionals, construction managers and field sales reps who work in harsh conditions. Panasonic contends that it's the toughest tablet available.

Making such a claim is a new tactic for the longtime market leader. Panasonic has traditionally preferred to let outlandish video demonstrations and testimonials do the talking for its Toughbooks . (For a good roundup, check the Web site, .)

But the company has seen its market share eroded by lower-priced models from Hewlett-Packard , Dell and Lenovo , as well as smaller companies such as tablet maker Motion Computing Inc.

Moreover, sales of rugged PCs have suffered because of cutbacks in federal and military budgets. VDC Research Group Inc. has predicted that 2009 sales would be down 10% from 2008.

That may be why Kyp Walls, director of product management at Panasonic's U.S. computer division , very openly talked up the H1 Field -- and talked down Panasonic's competitors.

Wrapped in a magnesium alloy case that Walls said is 20 times stronger than the ABS plastic used in standard laptops, the H1 Field is certified to meet IP65 and MIL-STD-810G standards, the latter at a six-foot drop. IP65 is an international standard measuring resistance to dust or water . MIL-STD-810G is a U.S. military standard for a device's ruggedness on the battlefield .

Originally published on Computerworld |  Click here to read the original story.
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