Panasonic Toughbook 40 – You’re familiar with the saying: you patiently await a review of durable devices in PC Pro, and then suddenly three arrive all at once. This month, our focus extends not only to the Panasonic Toughbook 40 but also encompasses the Getac X600 and Dell’s Latitude 7230 Rugged Extreme tablet . The introduction of new Toughbooks is a rarity, and when they do surface, it can take months before we can dive into a comprehensive review. Case in point, the Panasonic Toughbook 40 was initially unveiled in May 2022. The delay arises from Panasonic’s commitment to serving its demanding clientele, with the foremost sector being defense (encompassing army, police, and border control). The device is also tailored for utility companies, catering to workers who confront various conditions in their daily tasks.
|Processor||4-core/8-thread Intel Core i5-1145G7 vPro|
|Graphics||Intel Iris Xe graphics|
|Screen||14-inch 60Hz IPS touchscreen, 1920×1080 resolution|
|Storage||1TB M.2 Gen3 SSD|
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.1, 5MP IR webcam|
|Ports||Thunderbolt 4, 2x USB-A 3.2 Gen2, HDMI 2, microSDXC card reader, gigabit Ethernet, 3.5mm jack|
|Battery||2x 74Wh batteries|
|Operating System||Windows 11 Pro|
|Warranty||3-year limited warranty|
Achieving a universal fit is an unrealistic goal, prompting Panasonic to embrace a modular approach. When I was introduced to the Toughbook, they presented me with a container resembling a suitcase, filled with various components that can be interchanged using the four expansion slots. These components include DVD and Blu-ray drives, secondary batteries and SSDs, multi-user fingerprint sensors, and an assortment of ports. Most of these modules are designed for tool-free swapping, with a focus on ensuring they remain weatherproof.
To access these expansion areas, you’ll need to exert some force to release the latches – make sure your fingernails are well-trimmed. There’s a slight challenge reminiscent of The Krypton Factor in accessing a couple of these areas. However, once you grasp the system, the process becomes clear. The notable drawback of this modular design is its impact on the device’s thickness: if you start typing on a desk, you’ll immediately notice that your hands are positioned higher than usual, given that the Toughbook is more than two inches thick.
Two aspects were particularly surprising. First, the device feels remarkably light, especially when compared to a rugged 15-inch laptop like the Getac. Second, and even more unexpected, is the comfortable usability on the lap. In fact, it can be deemed quite comfortable.
If upgrading from a previous Toughbook, the panel’s quality is sure to bring delight. Its peak performance is most evident when used outdoors in bright sunlight. When positioned alongside the Getac X600, the Panasonic’s panel significantly outperforms its competitor, excelling in terms of readability and vibrancy. This distinction is so remarkable that using the device outdoors becomes effortless: activate adaptive brightness and allow the screen to make automatic adjustments.
The peak brightness was quantified at 1,184cd/m2, an astonishingly high value. Equally crucial for the defense sector, the screen’s brightness can be reduced to as low as 2cd/m2 – a necessary feature to prevent revealing your location during a mission.
On a theoretical level, color coverage and accuracy are not standout features of this 14-inch IPS panel. In my tests, it covered 54% of the sRGB gamut with an average Delta E of 4.55. It’s true that this machine might not be my initial preference for watching films or editing photos. However, the colors exhibit strength in comparison to the Getac, supported by a robust contrast ratio of 1,781:1. These colors prove more than satisfactory for the device’s intended usage.
The ultimate consideration concerning the screen is its advanced touch technology. This device supports three primary modes: ten-finger multitouch, capacitive pen, and glove interaction. Panasonic extends this capability by introducing two additional modes, labeled “multitouch in wet conditions” and “capacitive pen in wet conditions,” bringing the total to five. Notably, unlike previous models, you are no longer required to manually select the mode you wish to use.
This adaptability compensates for the petite trackpad, which measures 94 x 53mm. Although not the most responsive trackpad I’ve encountered, Panasonic does provide separate left and right mouse buttons, a welcomed distinction. Typing accurately on the keyboard while wearing gloves might pose a challenge due to the compact key size – a quick look at the photos reveals that the keyboard doesn’t span the entire width of the chassis. Panasonic’s approach involves minimizing typing errors by rounding the key edges and maintaining ample space between keys.
While the key response is soft, verging on spongy, I find it preferable to the lackluster keys observed on the Getac X600. The design also includes thoughtful touches: the cursor keys are thoughtfully set apart from the main area, the F11 key (for activating full-screen mode) is distinctly recessed and highlighted in red, facilitating quick access in urgent situations. Similar to the Getac, four programmable keys are positioned above the primary deck, adding to the device’s overall functionality.