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Panasonic gets Pana-rugged with new Toughpad Android and Windows tablets

There’s a big market for tablets that can help businesses in industries like transportation, logistics, healthcare, manufacturing, and retail. Panasonic is aiming to make a splash there with its Toughpad tablets, the Windows 10 FZ-F1 and the Android FZ-N1, which were unveiled at MWC in Barcelona today.

“Enterprise and government users are looking to do more with handheld tablets than ever before,” said Jan Ruderman, Vice President, Business Mobility Group, Panasonic System Communications Company of North America in a press release. “The majority of handheld computer solutions in market today are using an antiquated OS and are vastly underpowered.”

Sporting a 4.7-inch display with a 1280 x 720 pixel resolution, and a 2.3GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor inside, they’re designed to handle tasks like inventory management. The hardware is the same in both, but you can choose Windows 10 or Android 5.1.1 Lollipop as your operating system.

These are lightweight, rugged tablets capable of coping with abuse and testing environments. They can handle drops from up to 6 feet without sustaining damage, and Panasonic’s tumble test saw them dropped from 3.3 feet (usual handheld height) 2,000 times consecutively to ensure they won’t let workers in the field down. They’re also IP65 and IP67 certified and can handle submersion in water at a depth of 3.3 feet for up to 30 minutes.

The Toughpad tablets feature an ergonomically designed angled barcode reader that’s been designed to reduce repetitive strain injuries. It has buttons either side, so it can be used equally effectively by right-handed workers and southpaws. You can also use it with gloves on, the display is still viewable in sunlight, and it has a rain-sensing mode, so it’s ideal for outdoor workers.

The quick-charging standard battery lasts for eight hours and it’s hot-swappable, so there’s no downtime when you have to replace it. Panasonic is also offering an extended battery that’ll keep on ticking for 16 hours. Other accessories include a vehicle dock, hand strap, multi-battery charger, and a passive or active stylus.

For easy communication these are dual SIM devices supporting 4G LTE/3G/GPRS/CDMA2000 and they have dual front-facing speakers that top out at 100 decibels, so background noise should not be an issue. The Toughpad N1 and F1 have 16GB of storage and 2GB of RAM. There’s also support for Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, NFC, GPS, and Bluetooth v4.1.

You’ll be able to get the Wi-Fi only Android N1 starting in March, but it’s going to cost a hefty $1,500. A voice model will follow in the summer. The Windows 10 F1 with data and voice support will land in the fall and is set to cost $1,600.

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Simon Hill is an experienced technology journalist and editor who loves all things tech. He is currently the Associate Mobile…
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