The Panasonic Toughbook CF-C1 is an ultraportable laptop/convertible tablet PC capable of withstanding hard knocks and spilt drinks. Updated, 10 May 2011

You wouldn’t buy a ToughBook for its looks, but this rugged ultraportable laptop is ideal for use in outdoor situations, where it should withstand all manner of bashes, drops and scrapes. And so you’d hope so, given that it costs a staggering £1,758 inc VAT. 

Unlike the other laptops in our group test, the Panasonic CF-C1’s 12.1in (1280x800-pixel) screen is able to revolve and fold back atop the keyboard to form a sturdy-feeling tablet. In this mode, input is via the firm press of a stylus. Provided that you’re right-handed, a rubber grip on the rear makes the laptop easier to grasp.

This matt display is perfect for use in the great outdoors and in direct sunlight, although a dedicated button for adjusting brightness is accessible in both laptop and tablet modes.

Despite its small screen, the 1.69kg Panasonic ToughBook sits at the heavier end of our ultraportables group test. It’s portable at 299x226x44mm, if somewhat thicker than the competition.

Plenty of grunt is available from the 2.4GHz Intel Core i5-520M processor. Combined with 2GB of DDR3 RAM, the Lenovo was able to record a very respectable 104-point score in WorldBench 6. It uses integrated graphics, however, and scored just 24fps in our Fear test.

The 250GB hard-drive capacity is on the low side, and only half that supplied by the Asus U36J. It is, however, significantly more capacious than the 128GB SSDs supplied by Apple for its MacBook Air and Samsung for its NP900X3A.

Connectivity options include a VGA output but no HDMI, two USB 2.0 ports but no USB 3.0, 802.11b/g/n wireless, gigabit ethernet and Bluetooth 2.1. An SD card reader is built in.

The keyboard is disappointing. Panasonic has tried to squeeze in as many keys as possible, resulting in small Backspace, Tab and Return keys - even the spacebar is tiny. The Del button is also oddly positioned next to the left arrow key. Outside in the cold with shivering hands, you could find fast, accurate typing difficult.

What really impressed us about the ToughBook was its longevity - its 10-hour battery life is comfortably the best in the category. Interestingly, Panasonic uses two 43Wh removable batteries, allowing you to swap in a fresh one on the go to extend runtime.


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