Looking for a tablet that can handle the dangers of a construction site, rain storm, or outdoors trek? Then you need a device specifically designed for rugged use, and Panasonic has just introduced two new options with its Tough Pad.
The smaller of the pair is the 7″ FZ-M1 which, despite its tiny screen size, runs Windows 8.1 Pro on an Intel Celeron or Intel 4th-gen Core i5 processor, specifications which put it far ahead most other 7-in tablets. This is paired with a 128GB SSD (upgradable to 256GB) and eight gigabytes of RAM. Other features include 802.11ac WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, LTE connectivity, and a USB 3.0 port for external drives and other devices.
Protection is prodived by rounded rubber edges which can absorb impacts, making the device resistant to drops of up to five feet. The ToughPad is also IP65 certified for dust and water resistance. That means it’s immune to dust and can withstand concentrated streams of water for at least 15 minutes.
To make the tablet usable in any situation the screen has been treated with an anti-glare treatment and the backlight reaches a maximum of 500 nits. The display supports 10-point multi-touch, but the resolution is a mere 1280×768; not high by modern standards.
A wide range of optional extras are available, most of which target businesses rather than individuals. These include a barcode reader, GPS, Ethernet and Serial ports, SmartCard, NFC, and RFID. Many of these extras can be purchased with the tablet or added later.
The durability and configurability of the ToughPad comes at the expense of portability, which means the FZ-M1 weighs 1.2 pounds and is 7/10ths of an inch thick. That may not sound like much, but its well over twice the size and weight of an iPad Mini, for example. Battery life is expected to be about 8 hours, but Panasonic has come to that figure with the MobileMark benchmark, which tends to be a bit optimistic.
And then there’s the price. Panasonic hasn’t revealed the MSRP of the Celeron model, but the Core i5 version is $2,099. The tablet will ship in early spring.