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PANASONIC CF20 TOUGHBOOK REVIEW

 

Panasonic CF-20 Hybrid ToughBook Review

 

The new Panasonic CF-20 has been out for a month now and after a busy deployment period for early adopters we thought we would get our hands on one and let you know our thoughts about the latest hybrid rugged device to venture into the renowned Toughbook series.

First impressions are favourable, with the CF-20 being as well built as expected from the Toughbook family. It’s surprisingly lightweight for a fully rugged, IP67 device and all parts feel sturdy as intended for a drop tested device.

 

Panasonic CF 20 Toughbook

Excellent Sunlight HD Touch & Digitizer Display

 

The 10.1” 1920 x 1200 sunlight readable HD display is super bright and responsive with either finger touch or (an extra option) digitizer pen touch which is aided by the new m5 CPU from Intel. The CPU provides instant access to all operating features and is reliably snappy even when multi-tasking with a combination of MS Office applications, web pages and mapping software running open together.

 

Panasonic Toughbook CF 20 Keys

Quick Access Keys

 

The detachable tablet section is clearly laid out with a row of short cut keys along the bottom edge which include easy access to the Dashboard, OSK, Volume up /down, Windows key and a power/hibernate button.

 

Multiple Modes Cf 20

Hybrid at it's best

 

The hybrid functionality of the CF-20 plays its part well, the tablet section can be docked back into the keyboard in either orientation, which allows the screen to be folded flat back onto the keyboard for ease of use. This allows the unit to have multiple interaction usages which offer up different modes. Laptop mode, tablet mode, presentation mode, convertible mode and handled mode all function very well which is assisted by the centred balance of the unit, overall a pleasant device to hold. Windows also reacts well here by knowing which orientation you have the device in and also offering a choice of “Tablet Mode” or Desktop Mode” when in the different configurations.

The supplied rugged pen with our CF-20 functions well and as our demo CF-20 is not digitizer (an optional upgrade at point of purchase) we are quite surprised to see a capacitive style pen which actually works as intended. Instead of the typical flat rounded soft rubber end Panasonic have developed something that closely resembles a true digitizer pen. This doesn’t quite have all the excellent features of a true digitizer pen, such as pressure sensitivity, additional features to the tip of the pen and built in right click buttons but it does offer a similar level of accuracy. The pen can also be securely tethered to the tablet so you won’t lose it and the tablet has a docking compartment which keeps the pen neatly tucked away and safe when not in use.

 

Panasonic Hybrid Toughbook

Unparalleled range of fully protective I/O ports

 

I/O’s on the Tablet are comprehensive, providing USB, HDMI, LAN and sound, as well as a slot for Mobile Broadband but it’s the included keyboard section of the CF-20 which impresses here. The connectivity of the keyboard base includes 2 x USB 2.0, 1 x USB 3.0, External VGA, HDMI, LAN, SD Slot and a serial port. The serial port is however derived via USB so isn’t true serial, which we think would have been preferable. True serial is however a welcome upgrade and is configured directly to the tablet which shows Panasonic have been listening to their customer base as this is a requested feature we come across quite often.

The CF-20 Tablet weighing around 1.1Kg feels light and robust in the hand, even when compared to the Panasonic’s FZ-G1 from the Toughpad range, it feels lighter and the thinner design gives an overall sleeker feel, again this is partly due to the excellent weight distribution.

 

Panasonic CF 20 Toughbook Keyboard

Keyboard and trackpad

 

The keyboard base weighing in at 900 grams (without the additional second battery) has a full functionality keyboard with a tactile bounce to each key making it pleasant to type, along with a touchpad for cursor control. We like the left and right mouse click buttons as they are rubber and are very tactile but the touchpad interface takes a little time to get used to.

All external connectivity is well protected with rubber sealed flaps that lock into position, giving the unit its impressive IP67 rating. There is space for an additional battery in the base to double the 8 hour battery life, however this is an option and does not come as standard. We think it would have been nice if Panasonic were to supply the second battery as standard, however you will need to spend another £120 to get one.

 

Panasonic CF 20 Toughbook GPS Multiway

GPS and Multiway

 

The base also has GPS antenna pass through sockets and a multiway docking connection for desk or secure vehicle docks which are part of the accessory items.

The CF-20 is available in a number of different versions, namely base, base plus 4G, and options for Digitiser Input, serial port, Smart Card Reader and Integrated Barcode scanner and is available to order from us today. We typically have stock of the base version and the 4G versions which are available for next day delivery.

 

Overview

Overall we think the CF-20 is a perfect example of a Hybrid device, which will be an ideal solution for any mobile worker that wants the versatility of a tablet, with the functionality of a laptop. Its compact form factor makes it an ideal companion for the mobile professional or engineer. Although the CF-20 is at the higher end of the price scale this device is built to last and outlast any consumer device on the market today. In the long run the cost of the CF-20 is actually a smart cost-saving decision as pointed out here.

We rate it 9.5 out of 10 for build quality - for more information please see our Panasonic CF-20 product page.

 

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