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Panasonic Toughbook CF-19

Updated Panasonic Tablet PC convertible
(by Conrad H. Blickenstorfer)

The Toughbook CF-19 is Panasonic's sole Tablet PC offering. It will always be dear to me because Panasonic showed me the original prototype of what would become the CF-18 in Osaka during a 2002 factory tour, and we discussed its inception and design. I was impressed that the Matsushita engineers seemed genuinely interested in my opinion.

The CF-19 is a technologically updated version of the original CF-18, just as the larger CF-30 is the latest version of the CF-27/28/29 line. Both updates were introduced in October of 2006. The overall design of this very compact machine did not need to be changed as there is nothing to improve, and this also makes the CF-19 backward compatible with existing vehicle mount solutions -- an important consideration for many Panasonic customers. The photo above does not really show how compact this machine is. With a footprint of 10.7 x 8.5 inches and a thickness of under two inches this is one ruggedized machine that does not take up a lot of space. Even more impressive is that the CF-19 weighs just five pounds despite its heavy duty construction and extensive protection.

The CF-19's design is that of a standard Tablet PC convertible. It can be used as a notebook, or the screen can be rotated and then folded down flat onto the keyboard, LCD facing up. Panasonic offers both a touchscreen version that runs standard Windows XP and a Tablet PC version with an active Wacom digitizer and the XP Tablet PC Edition. Both have a 10.4-inch transmissive XGA display with low reflection screen coating. The Tablet PC version is a bit brighter with a 550 Nit rating compared to the 470 Nit of the touch screen model.

The CF-18 was a relatively recent design and was last available with a 1.1GHz Intel Pentium M 733 processor, so it didn't need massive updating. The CF-19 is powered by a 1.06GHz Core Duo U2400 CPU. This is a machine meant to last through as much as a full shift rather than winning speed contests. Standard RAM is now 512MB of DDR2 and can be expanded up to 4GB. The shock-mounted, removable disk is also larger, now 80GB. The CF-19 isn't large enough for an optical drive, so if you need one it has to be external.

In the connectivity department, the CF-19 rates very high. Two USB ports, Firewire, serial for legacy peripherals, modem, LAN (only 10/100 though), audio, video, port replicator and two external antennna jacks. All ports are covered or sealed. Wireless capabilities include standard 802.11a/b/g and Bluetooth, as well as optional integrated radios Cingular/AT&T UMTS/HSDPA and the EV-DO Verizon and Sprint networks. GPS is also available, as is a fingerprint scanner. The CF-19 does have a Trusted Platform Module security chip, but not the CF-30's SmartCard reader option.

Like all Toughbooks, the CF-19 is built to last and take some punishment. It has a full magnesium case, a moisture and dust resistant keyboard (sadly not full-scale!) and enough sealing to give it an IP54 rating. It's MIL-STD-810F tested, but the specs do not state to what degree. We rate it somewhere between the often fluid "rugged" and "semi-rugged" designation.

Overall, the CF-19 is a highly configurable, compact and modern mobile computer that fits almost anywhere. It weighs very little, yet has a battery powerful enough to last about seven hours. The Tablet PC convertible design adds flexibility, as do the various wireless options available.

Added 11/2006
Processor Intel Core Duo U2400
CPU Speed 1.06g GHz
Standard/Max RAM 512-4096MB
Disk/drive 80GB HD, shock-mounted and removable
Optical drive Optional external
Card slots 1 Type II PC Card, SD Card, Express Card (54mm)
Display type Daylight-readable transmissive TFT (470/550 Nit)
Display size/res 10.4" XGA (1024 x 768)
Digitizer/pens touchscreen (470 Nit display) or active digitizer (550 Nit)
Keyboard/scale integrated 82-key, 91%
Housing Magnesium alloy
Operating Temp semi-rugged
Sealing IP54
Shock semi-rugged
Size (WxHxD) 10.7 x 8.5 x 1.9
Weight 5.0 pounds
Power 61 Watt-Hour Li-Ion (10.65V, 5.70Ah), "7 hours"
Interface RS232, 2 USB 2.0, RJ11, RJ45 10/100, port replicator, audio in/out, Firewire, Fingerprint reader (opt.)
Wireless 802.11a/b/g, Bluetooth, optional: EVDO, HSDPA, GPS
List price US$4,199 (base model)
Contact www.panasonic.com
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