It’s not the prettiest-looking laptop in the world. If you need a computer that can survive the hazards of the field, though, it’s not easy to find anything more suited for the job than the Panasonic Toughbook 20.
A hybrid laptop and tablet, the device comes in a ruggedized shell that should live through the most trying outdoor environments. That means, IP65 waterproofing, a durable build that can survive four-foot falls, and MIL-STD-461F certification for enduring electromagnetic interference. From retail and manufacturing to transport and military uses, this productivity machine bears all the rugged qualities necessary to get the job done whether you’re in a busy warehouse, in a dusty job site, or in the middle of nowhere.
Like its predecessor, the 2018 Panasonic Toughbook 20 is a rugged laptop with a 10.1-inch IPS display that can physically detach from the keyboard to function as an equally rugged tablet, complete with a built-in handle to enable convenient use on the move while doubling as a functional kickstand. That display is sunlight-viewable, making it perfect for use in the field, all while responding to touch interactions with or without gloves. The screen, by the way, comes with an new digitizer that enables accurate stylus interactions on top of the multi-point touchscreen support, making the screen better suited for writing signatures, taking notes, and other traditional pen-and-paper tasks.
The biggest improvement in this iteration is the introduction of a “bridge battery” system that allows users to hot-swap batteries on the fly, making it possible to extend the computer’s operating time significantly. With each battery able to keep it running for up to 8.5 hours of continuous use, a few charged modules on your bag should let you work on the road for days on end without access to a power outlet.
The Panasonic Toughbook 20 is fitted with a seventh-generation Intel Core i5 processor, integrated Intel graphics, up to 16GB of RAM, and up to 512GB of SSD storage, complete with OPAL encryption, so this should be a totally capable work computer, whether in laptop or tablet mode. There’s also an infrared webcam to complement the standard 1080p webcam, opening it up to an even wider range of applications in the field, along with an 8-megapixel rear camera for taking quick photographs. To make sure it handles a wide variety of uses, there are options for integrating a CAC smart card reader, a fingerprint reader, a magstripe reader, and a barcode reader.
Since field computers like these will take plenty of accessories, it comes with connectors for USB 3.0, HDMI, Ethernet, 3.5mm audio, microSD, SIM, and a nine-pin serial port just on the tablet section alone, with the keyboard portion getting slots for two USB 3.0, one USB 2.0, HDMI, VGA, Ethernet, SD card, and nine-pin serial. Features include an integrated speaker, a dual-array microphone, an 82-key keyboard with integrated backlighting, and a magnesium alloy chassis that’s encased in ABS and elastomer edges.
Pricing for the Panasonic Toughbook 20 starts at $3,100.