Call me whatever names you will, the easiest way I separate "my" generation from the next is the technology we can remember using. Here's where I sit up straight, roll my shoulders back, practice my assertive voice and proudly state that I, Editor for this publication, remember a time before the Internet and that I, a self-proclaimed technology nerd, remember using my local library's card catalog. I hold that last fact near and dear to my heart.
In this timeframe, I've watched the concept of a "computer" shrink during the evolution from 256 Kb floppy disk to a 7.5 Gb USB drive. Desktops have come from the massive "don't even bother trying to pick up" to something so light I have hardcover books that have more gravitational pull. I've seen laptops come, fold, spin and a superfluous "i" parade in front of a tablet's moniker. This is where the "computer" is taking an interesting twist.
Panasonic's Toughpad name puts two ideas to mind whether intentional or not: the popular Toughbook and the iPad name. Once you have the device in your hand it's very evident the concepts behind its creation. It's also evident where it diverts from an "i" product.
So it runs apps?
This where this "computer" concept becomes interesting—the association between tablet and apps. In case there are any questions regarding the Toughpad, it's not a traditional tablet. Yes it looks like one. It even feels like one in your hand. It even has a response touchscreen and stylus.
All that, yet it's more of a PC. That said, I was sent a clean Windows 8 version (there is also an Android-based alternative) and returned it a bit less pristine. There were a few programs within the Windows operating system pre-installed and I figured I could use a few of them to test basic performance: there was a handwriting recognition program as an alternative for the touchscreen keypad, the camera (front and rear) and Internet Explorer. Out of the box each launched and performed as expected. There were other programs as it was a Windows Operating System.
- Operating System: Android 4.0 (JT-B1), Windows 8 Pro (FZ-G1)
- Processor: TI OMAP4460 1.5GHz Dual core (JT-B1), 3rd Generation Intel Core i5-3437U vPro 1.9GHz up to 2.9GHz with Intel Turbo Boost Technology (FZ-G1)
- Memory: 16GB ROM, 1GB RAM, micro SDHC (JT-B1), 128-256GB SSD, 4-8GB RAM, optional micro SDXC (FZ-G1)
- Rugged: MIL-STD-810G, IP65, 14 degrees to 122 degrees F (operational temp range) (JT-B1 and FZ-G1) 5-foot drop for the Android, 4-foot drop for the Windows version
- Display: 7 inches, daylight viewable, 500nit, WSVGA (1024 x 600) (JT-B1), 10.1 inches, sunlight viewable, touch screen and active digitizer, 800nit, WUXGA (1920x1200) (FZ-G1)
- Camera: Front: 1.3Mp fixed focus, Rear: 13.0Mp auto focus w/ LED light (JT-B1)
- Battery: 8.0 hours - Large 5,720mAh battery (user-replaceable) (JT-B1), 8.0 hours (user-replaceable) (FZ-G1)
- Dimensions: 8.7”x 5.1” x 0.7” (JT-B1), 10.6 inches by 7.4 inches by 0.75 inches (FZ-G1)
- Weight: 1.2lbs (JT-B1), 2.43 pounds (FZ-G1)
- Wireless: Bluetooth V4.0, 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, optional embedded 4G LTE + 3G (JT-B1 and FZ-G1)
- I/O: Micro USB (JT-B1), Full size USB 3.0, HDMI, optional micro SDXC, Full size USB 2.0, wired LAN, true serial port or dedicated GPS. (FZ-G1)
It got rough
The 2.4-pound PC has a MIL-SPEC rating. I have no doubts in this testing standard and it's one I don't question. However, the real life applications of this standard do raise the occasional eyebrow. In other words, with its cost are you really planning on bringing this mountain climbing? (You’re more than welcome…with your own.) The more I used the Toughpad the more I came to realize that these standards brought up extreme images - sandstorms, torrential downpours…handing it to an elephant. While these are the conditions the “rugged” adjective sets out to protect, they aren't realistic to a typical day.