If you are lacking the UltraBay and area serviceability of the ThinkPad W-series, however want larger than average-durability, the ToughBook 55 could also be a very good match.

Panasonic’s Toughbook 55 is the latter-day ThinkPad W-series
If you are lacking the UltraBay and area serviceability of the ThinkPad W-series, however want larger than average-durability, the ToughBook 55 could also be a very good match.

Panasonic’s Toughbook sequence shouldn’t be mass-market client {hardware}. It’s virtually the one brand-name transportable PC accessible stateside that actually embraces being thicker than the common consumer-targeted system, gaining a good bit of sturdiness within the trade. The new Toughbook 55 comes with an IP53 certification, which is essentially sturdy sufficient for many hostile environments, however with out feeling overbuilt.  For comparability, the mid-2019 MacBook Pro is 0.61 inches (15.5 mm) thick, and for higher or worse, Apple merchandise are the benchmark for the PC OEM trade, regardless of their very own fragility. Even the ThinkPad, which is taken into account by fans to be the “professional business notebook” customary bearer, has more and more relied on soldering RAM and SSDs to the motherboard to remain aggressive with MacBook programs.  The semi-ruggedized ToughBook 55 shouldn’t be a tank in the best way that the ToughBook programs, just like the 31, are constructed. Though it lacks the TrackPoint and visible cues that observe in David Hill’s footsteps, it brings a refreshing utilitarianism to the pocket book PC market harking back to the W-series ThinkPad, with ample expandability. Panasonic Toughbook 55 specs CPU: Intel Core i5-8365U 1.6GHz vPro (Turbo Boost as much as 4.1GHz), Intel Core i7 (optionally available) Display: 14.0″ HD (112 PPI); opt. FHD touch 1000 nit (157 PPI); special order FHD non-touch 1000 nit (157 PPI) GPU: Intel UHD 620; Optional AMD Radeon Pro WX 4150 RAM: 8 (as tested) up to 64 GB DDR4 user-upgradeable Primary SSD: 256 GB (as tested) up to 1 TB SSD Secondary SSD: 256 GB – 1 TB SSD Optical Drive: Optional (DVD or Blu-ray) Webcam & Microphone: 1080p IR with privacy cover, x4 (tetra-array microphone) Speaker: Stereo, up to 92 dB Ports: USB Type-A x2 (3.1 Gen 1), optional 3rd USB 3.1 Gen 1, USB Type-C x1 (3.1 Gen 1) with optional PD, HDMI 2.0 x1, VGA optional, RS-232 optional, Gigabit Ethernet x1 (optional 2nd) Networking: Intel Wireless-AC 9560 (up to 1.7 Gbps), Bluetooth 5.0 (Class 1), 4G LTE (EM7511 Band 14), Optional GPS (u-blox M8N) Size: 10.7″ x 13.6″ x 1.3″, 4.6 lbs (non-touch mannequin). Design and {hardware} Every minute element of the Toughbook 55 feels stable, there’s clearly thought given to each a part of the expertise—the lid opens with a latch that pushes in, which is a way more nice expertise in comparison with a classic laptop computer with a slide-to-open latch. There’s quite a bit right here that makes the ToughBook 55 really feel barely like an artifact from a parallel universe the place the modularity and sturdiness from gentle enterprise notebooks continued to be iterated and improved, fairly than discarded in a quest for thinness. SEE: How to decide on between Windows, macOS, and Linux (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

The prime lid is silver, with black accents. The display hinge is maybe the strongest I’ve ever seen on a pocket book. Even when choosing up the laptop computer and shaking it whereas opened, the display doesn’t transfer from the angle at which it’s opened. Panasonic calls it “the thinnest and lightest laptop in its class,” which is probably going the case, although the variety of ruggedized programs out there’s not significantly excessive. The ToughBook 55 features a substantial quantity of enlargement potential, with two SO-DIMM RAM slots behind a screwed-down entry panel, whereas the first SSD is inside an enclosure that really pops out with a latch. The SSD is a typical M.2 2280 SSD, although Panasonic used SATA SSDs on the first SSD and enlargement SSD offered for this evaluate. Given the premium pricing Panasonic is asking for elements, seeing a full-featured NVMe SSD right here could be extra encouraging. The two SSDs will be configured as a RAID-1 quantity. The internals of the ToughBook 55 SSD xPAK. This is a straightforward M.2 2280 bridge, making it potential to swap the included SSD.
Image: James Sanders/TechRepublic
The system will be expanded with proprietary expansions referred to as xPAKs. The enlargement SSD suits in a bay that house owners of different laptops would fondly keep in mind because the Ultrabay—the slot will be outfitted with both an SSD, a DVD or Blu-ray burner, or an AMD GPU. The expansions are successfully proprietary, although I popped open the SSD attachment and located nothing greater than a bridge for an M.2 2280 SSD, there’s nothing to cease patrons from swapping their very own SSD into the enclosure. These expansions will be secured with screws to stop inadvertent removing. Likewise, there are alternatives for batteries and enlargement bays—the Toughbook will be configured with one 20-hour (on 150-nits brightness and no LTE) battery, with an optionally available card reader, contactless card reader, fingerprint reader, or secondary 20-hour battery. This is barely extreme—mainstream programs embrace fingerprint readers in touchpads (or energy buttons) with NFC potential to combine into the case. A swappable card reader is sensible, as having an open card slot is straightforward sufficient for particles to enter, making a element swap simpler within the occasion of failure. There is one more enlargement port accessible from the rear of the system, with one (presently) accessible enlargement possibility, an I/O board that gives VGA (D-Sub 15) and Serial (RS-232) connections, in addition to an Amphenol USB port, successfully two legacy connectors and one extraordinarily particular connector utilized in army and aviation settings. It’s area of interest, although when you have precise want for these ports, it prevents needing USB dongles to connect gadgets. Keyboard and display The keyboard is stable, and supplies good journey, although the person form of the keys is peculiar. This would not take any getting used to whereas typing, however as a visible cue, it offers the system distinctive character. The F11 key’s coloured purple, and remoted with a plastic guard stopping keypresses. The keyboard is modular and user-replaceable, and for some motive RGB-backlit (throughout the board, not per-key). The touchpad is generously sized, with two discrete mouse buttons, counteracting the pattern of getting single floor. Standard keyboard indicators are above the keyboard, with standing LEDs for disk and SD card exercise included as properly. ZDNet’s Tiernan Ray dumped espresso on his evaluate unit, and it continued to work after that, although stopped powering on after a weekend of espresso—among the liquid received onto the motherboard. Rather than try and shake out the espresso from an unintentional spill (as customers usually would do) the espresso was allowed to settle, seemingly damaging the mainboard. While Panasonic solely touts it having the ability to face up to water (and Panasonic has revealed a promo video for that), it is most likely hasty to declare it Not Safe For Starbucks. The display is rated for as much as 1000-nits brightness, and features a touchscreen on choose fashions. It’s a decently stable 14″ 1080p panel, and is sufficiently nice enough to work outside. There’s a stylus stored on the right side of the system, which feels a bit more secure than magnetically-attached options from other vendors. Software, performance, and battery The ToughBook 55 comes with Windows 10, which is still Windows 10, through and through. (Cue complaints about OEMs being obliged to ship Candy Crush Saga on business systems.) There’s not much in the way of vendor add-ons, though Panasonic’s OEM software allows for configuring the keyboard backlight and creating recovery media.  The system performs admirably well, for being powered by a Core i5 from Intel’s 8th generation “Whiskey Lake” revision, which has partial {hardware} mitigations in opposition to Spectre/Meltdown, however depends partially on microcode patches. (There’s no equal 15W CPU in Intel’s ninth era, and design lead occasions are too lengthy for Panasonic to ship 10th era CPUs, that are additionally barely constrained in availability.) Test Name Intel GPU AMD GPU PCMark 10 3783 4458 Essentials 8011 8405 Productivity 6015 6841 Digital Content Creation 3050 4182 There’s a modest improve in desktop efficiency when utilizing the AMD GPU, although the efficiency enhancements that gives for desktop productiveness are a bit muted. If you are doing one thing graphics-intensive reminiscent of CAD, it is sensible, although in the event you’re simply trying to do some gentle gaming after hours, choosing up a Nintendo Switch and a handful of video games is cheaper than the $700 asking value for the AMD Radeon Pro WX 4150. There’s one thing to be mentioned for miniaturization, although that pricing is in top-of-the-line GeForce RTX 2080 or Radeon Vega 56 territory. The 1080p webcam is sort of succesful, with the built-in shutter a welcome addition. Multiple folks have commented positively on the efficiency of the digicam and microphone in distinction to the 2018 Macbook Air and ThinkPad w550s which I usually use for video calls. The audio system are ample—they don’t distort considerably when cranked as much as the max, and they’re rated for 96 dB, although they’re considerably tinny. The battery life is nice—absent a very scientific take a look at, I’m in a position to get a full day of use out of it with out working significantly low on battery, even with brightness at round 90%. The xPAK parts basically labored on insertion, with the fingerprint reader xPAK working out-of-the-box natively with Windows Hello. The GPU required a driver set up on first use.  Final verdict From a usability standpoint, the Toughbook 55 is spectacular. There is quite a bit it does properly, and will be simply expanded to fulfill the wants of the consumer. The {hardware} is clearly prime quality, and is more likely to stand as much as above-average quantities of abuse, so long as you don’t drown it in espresso. The value is tough to justify, in sure facets. The customary mannequin, with 512GB SSD and LTE (together with Band 14) is $2,499 appears excessive at first look, though LTE choices on competing programs are usually fairly costly. Likewise, the Toughbook 55 comes with a three-year guarantee, with Panasonic footing the invoice for round-trip in a single day freight for in-warranty repairs. Further, Panasonic touts a 48-hour turnaround for repairs. This degree of service, if bought with programs from different OEMs, shortly brings the worth as much as parity.  SEE: 16 prime laptops for enterprise customers in 2019 (free PDF) (TechRepublic) The estimated costs of the xPAKs undermine the utility of the expandability, considerably. For the smaller xPAKs, a $100 value level for the SmartCard xPAKs are cheap, as is $150 for a 69000 mWh battery. $125 for fingerprint authentication is barely excessive. The bigger xPAKs pricing is peculiar. It’s straightforward to level to the existence of USB-connected DVD drives and say $100 is an excessive amount of to ask for a DVD drive xPAK, when brand-name USB DVD drives go for $20-30, and Apple’s USB TremendousDrive is $70. Panasonic’s DVD drive is sort of substantial, and I’m extra assured within the sturdiness of that drive (and I’ve damaged name-brand disc drives from overuse, lately.) On the excessive finish, $400 for a Blu-ray drive is extreme. Likewise, $400 for a 512 GB SATA SSD is unjustifiable—even contemplating the invoice of supplies for the enclosure, a Samsung 970 Pro M.2 NVMe SSD (which is superior to the SATA-linked Samsung OEM drive Panasonic shipped) is $160, lower than half of Panasonic’s pricing. Even Apple’s pricing for storage shouldn’t be this steep.  The costs are estimates—relying in your negotiation expertise and deployment dimension, you might squeeze your channel accomplice for some financial savings. That mentioned, in case your pockets are sufficiently deep, and when you have a necessity for ruggedized software program, or when you have a sample of breaking notebooks, the acquisition is a straightforward determination. Otherwise, it is likely to be a bit overbuilt. For extra try TechRepublic’s evaluate of the Dell Latitude 7400 2-in-1.

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