Hardware Laptops

Panasonic Toughbook 55 review: first look at the flexible rugged laptop with up to 40 hours of battery life

Flexibility and ruggedness don’t usually go hand in hand, but that’s what Panasonic is promising with the new Toughbook 55. I was one of a handful of journalists at its worldwide launch earlier today, and on first sight it seems to have everything most people need.

Despite weighing a little over 2kg, if you slip in a second battery it can even provide 40 hours of battery life.

Panasonic Toughbook 55: what’s the big news?

The biggest upgrade over the Toughbook CF-54, which the Toughbook 55 replaces, is that it can provide 20 hours of battery life as standard – so twice as much. As mentioned above, you can even double that again if you add a second battery, which is easy to do thanks to an expandable bay.

Then there are all the other upgrades, via the “universal bay”. This is where you can slot in an optical drive – Blu-ray or DVD writer – or add a discrete AMD Radeon workstation graphics card. Or slip in a second storage drive.

You can even customise the rear additional slots, supplementing the VGA and True Serial ports with a fourth USB slot, second LAN connector or Rugged USB 2.0. See the full list of ports at the foot of this review.

There’s also improved ruggedness, with an IP53 rating meaning it will stand up to dust for more than eight hours and water “falling as a spray at any angle up to 60 degrees”. As shown below.

Panasonic Toughbook 55: what’s inside?

There are no huge surprise when it comes to internals, but I use that word advisedly. That’s because you can remove the SSD within seconds, while the two SODIMM slots are also easy to replace as they sit under a plastic cover on the bottom.

You’re stuck with the processor for life, but the base models include an 8th Gen Intel Core i5 that should be fast enough for a good while. You can specify from 8GB to 64GB of RAM and from 256GB to 1TB of storage.

Naturally, the 14in screen is incredibly bright. While Panasonic didn’t quote brightness levels of the base level HD screen, the Full HD screen goes up to 1,000cd/m2. Importantly for low-light environments (think inside cockpits or police cars at night), you can also drop brightness right down to 2cd/m2.

Panasonic Toughbook 55: stepped up security

There are numerous security precautions. For example, thanks to vPro processors and their in-built protection against BIOS-level attacks, Windows 10 and the option of fingerprint readers, IR webcams and smart cards, you have multiple levels of protection.

Apparently, Panasonic has also worked with Microsoft to provide some extra security layers. For now, both companies are being coy about exactly what those are, but promises to update me in a few weeks when their collaboration goes public.

Panasonic Toughbook 55: at what price?

So to the killer: how much? The Toughbook 55 will cost from £1,772 exc VAT, which is actually quite affordable for a semi rugged laptop. However, that price will ramp up once you start adding modules.

The Panasonic Toughbook 55 will go on sale later this month, and we’re hoping to have a review sample soon after.

Panasonic Toughbook 55 key specs

  • Intel Core i5-8365U
  • Windows 10 Pro
  • 8GB RAM (up to 64GB)
  • Intel UHD 620 Graphics
  • 256GB SSD
  • Toughbook 55 HD: 1,366 x 768 non-touch screen
  • Toughbook 55 Full-HD: 1,920 x 1,080 non-touch screen
  • Toughbook 55 Full-HD Touch: 1,920 x 1,080 touchscreen
  • 2 x USB 3.1, 1 x USB-C, microSDXC memory card slot, 1 x HDMI

Toughbook Universal Bay options

  • Discrete GPU (AMD Radeon ProWX)
  • Second SSD
  • Smart card reader
  • DVD Multi drive
  • Blu-ray drive

Front expansion options

  • Second battery
  • Fingerprint reader
  • Contactless smart card reader (HF-RFID)
  • Smart card reader

About the author

Tim Danton

Tim Danton is editor-in-chief of PC Pro magazine and has written about technology since 1999. He enjoys playing with gadgets, playing with words and playing tennis. Email tim@bigtechquestion.com

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