Yesterday, Pc world got a tour of the range of Panasonic Toughbook laptops, and a new addition that will be out in October or November -- the Panasonic ToughPad FZ-A1.
The model we saw was still a pre-release version of the final tablet, but we were able to get a good idea of its specifications and design. It's the kind of tablet that will find a range of uses, particularly for small business users -- there's a 3 year warranty, and it's ruggedised to be all-weather dust and water-resistant..
The 10.1-inch tablet is powered by Android - currently running Ice Cream Sandwich, though the final version may have Jelly Bean. It runs a dual-core 1.2GHz processor, with 16GB onboard storage, and a slot for additional microSD card. It has 1Gb of RAM, which provides decent responsiveness for the included apps.
The tablet is ruggedised in several ways. There's a rubber surround for the entire tablet to protect it from bumps and drops, as well as a coating over the screen's surface to prevent scratches and marking. It doesn't stop fingerprints, but it is daylight readable. The buttons are covered with protective plastic that stops dust.
With a magnesium aluminium alloy chassis, it's solidly built, but not excessively heavy, at 970 grams. It meets Military ruggedness specification 810G (which ensures it can cope with high levels of vibration and moderate drops, among other testing carried out), as well as IP65 certification, which covers water resistance and dust resistance.
The stylus can be used directly on the screen to activate icons, but we also discovered that you can use it millimetres above the screen, too, to flip between home screens, for example. All you do is hold down the button, and it will activate. It's a nice touch.
Another nice touch is the inclusion of a range of ports only rarely found on tablets. Shown below is the weather-sealed pop-out that hides HDMI, headphone jack, microSD slot and microUSB. You can also see the camera -- the rear houses a 5-megapixel camera with LED, while the front has a 2-megapixel camera.
Last but not least, it includes a GPS receiver, as well as 802.11 b/g/n, and as you can see below, there's a sim slot for 3G mobile broadband. Also shown below is the dock connector and cover power-connection port.
We don't yet have details on final pricing. For more information, see Panasonic's ToughBook site