Panasonic Toughbook 54 is durable and svelte -- has 5th Gen Intel Core i5 vPro

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Panasonic's durable Toughbook line of laptops are legendary. Not only are they designed to take a beating, but are extremely functional too. To the average home user, the massive body and weight can seem like overkill. If you are sipping latte's all day in a coffee shop, it may seem that way. In reality, much work happens outside of safe places like an office or Starbucks; blue collar workers use technology too, and the Toughbook series is built for these workers.

Today, Panasonic announces the Toughbook 54. This semi-rugged machine is actually quite svelte (for being a semi-rugged Toughbook), which may make it more attractive in situations where a job is rough and dirty, but not overly so. Best of all? It is powered by a 5th generation Intel Core i5 vPro; durability meets performance and impressive battery life.

"As the thinnest and lightest semi-rugged laptop in its class, the Toughbook 54 is a highly portable tool for mobile professionals who need durability, power and feature sets beyond what a standard consumer laptop can offer. With a 5th Generation Intel Core i5 vPro processor, 11 hours of battery life -- 18 hours with an optional hot-swappable second battery -- and a wide range of integrated options, the Toughbook 54 is a reliable and versatile tool for mobile workers in demanding markets such as video production, insurance, utilities, construction, field service, public safety and government", says Panasonic.

The company further explains, "offering enhanced security, a full magnesium alloy case with handle, and resistance to spills and drops, the Toughbook 54 is purpose-built for professionals who spend a significant amount of time working from the road or in the outdoors. For professionals who need power in addition to rugged portability, the Toughbook 54 is available with discrete graphics, dual drives, up to 16GB of memory, and a 1080p full HD display and webcam. Four models will be available to meet customer demand -- Lite, Prime, Gloved Multi Touch and Performance -- with each one designed to assure a high long-term return on investment for a diverse range of businesses and government agencies".

Panasonic touts the following features

  • Highly Portable Design: 2 pounds lighter and 0.5 inch thinner than the nearest semi-rugged competitor
  • Semi-rugged and Reliable: MIL-STD-810G and IP5x magnesium alloy design with built-in handle. Tested by an independent third-party lab to survive 3 foot drops on 26 faces; features port covers, a spill-resistant keyboard, touchpad, hinges and display. The Toughbook 54 offers improved vibration resistance and uses tough magnesium alloy in more areas as compared to our similar models such as the Toughbook 53.
  • Next-Generation Processor: 5th Generation Intel Core i5-5300U vProvProcessor (3MB cache, 2.3GHz up to 2.9GHz with Intel Turbo Boost Technology)
  • Powerful Graphics Processor: Intel® HD Graphics 5500 (all models); AMD FirePro M5100 graphics (Performance model) which offers more than double the graphics performance of the similar Toughbook 53 when comparing 3DMark Fire Strike benchmarks.
  • Full-Shift Battery Life: Up to 11 hours of continuous use (Prime and Gloved Multi Touch models); up to 18 hours with optional media bay second battery. Lite model offers up to 8 hours of continuous use.
  • Enterprise-Grade Memory & Storage: 4-16GB RAM (8-16GB on Performance model); 500GB shock-mounted flex-connect hard drive with heater for cold temperature operation. Optional 128GB SSD, 256GB SSD and 1TB 7200rpm HDD with heaters. For even more storage and/or convenient backups, the Toughbook 54 is the first Panasonic notebook to offer optional dual drives -- 128GB or 256GB SSD with heaters.
  • Advanced Operating System: Windows 8.1 Pro Update 64-bit or Windows 7 Professional (available through downgrade rights from Windows 8.1 Pro)
  • Optional 1000 nit Touchscreen: 10-point capacitive Gloved Multi Touch model with stylus available. Panasonic is one of the few manufacturers that has been able to offer the smooth operation of a capacitive display but still allow users to choose to keep their gloves on if they need.
  • High Resolution Displays: 14.0 inch IPS 1080p full HD display (Gloved Multi Touch and Performance models) or 768p HD display (Lite and Prime models)
  • High Resolution Webcam: To go along with the available 1080p full HD display, the Toughbook 54 offers an optional 1080p webcam for crystal-clear video conferences.
  • Faster Typing & Night Time Use: Standard on all models except for the Lite model, an emissive backlit keyboard offers four levels of brightness for uses to adjust their keyboard brightness setting from a soft light to a warm glow for easy typing at night or in darkened settings. Plus, the rounded ergonomic keys allow for faster typing with less chance for errors.
  • Improved Speakers: To help combat with the noise outdoors or inside vehicles, the speakers in the Toughbook 54 (up to 91 dB) are now twice as loud as similar models such as the Toughbook 53. For comparison, a Boeing 737 at 1 nautical mile before landing is 97 dB and a diesel train at 45mph from 100 feet is 83 dB.
  • Dependable Connectivity: USB 3.0 (x3), Bluetooth 4.0 (class 1), Intel Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac; optional 4G LTE multi carrier wireless broadband with satellite GPS; optional dedicated GPS (u-blox) and antenna pass through
  • Wirelessly Stream Content: Intel Wireless Display (WiDi) allows easy and secure presenting without the need for any video cables on displays that either have Intel WiDi built in or have an adapter plugged in.
  • Enhanced Security: Trusted platform module (TPM) 1.2, Computrace theft protection, cable lock slot, supports multiple variations of dual-form authentication with optional fingerprint, insertable and contactless SmartCard readers.
  • Additional Options: DVD drive, true serial port, VGA, PC Card, 2nd LAN, rugged Fischer USB port.

Pricing will start at $1,499 for the base model, but expect that price to skyrocket once you start adding features and moving up to different configurations. Again, this is for business use where durability is a necessity; you pay a premium for the overall protection that the chassis design provides. If it does break, don't panic; a 3 year warranty is included.

Do you have a job that requires the use of a rugged or semi-rugged laptop? Tell me about it in the comments.

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