Toughbooks are known for their built-to-last quality and based on the target audience, Panasonic has released three different versions of these Toughbooks, namely business-rugged, semi-rugged and full-rugged. The CF-53 model is part of their semi-rugged series and its got the look and feel of a hitman’s briefcase. Let’s have a look if it’s worth the bucks.
Tough design and build
Design and Build Quality
The CF-53 is a fat notebook. If you’ll just look at it from the outset, it looks like a briefcase in which you can safely put in your netbook or tablet. And with the handle at the top, not many of you will differ on opinion. It has a crystallised silver finish on the exterior and with visible screws around the notches on the side; it definitely looks like an industrial grade notebook built for rigorous usage. But the question is, is it?
Crystallised silver design
Panasonic has mentioned that this notebook is part of their ‘semi-rugged’ series. It’s not a full-rugged beast so let’s make it clear on what it can and what it can’t do. Firstly, it’s MIL-STD-810G certified, which means it can survive a three-inch drop along with shock, vibration, dust, altitude, high/low temperature, temperature shock and humidity resistance. It also comes with a spill resistant keyboard, but the spill resistance doesn’t extend to the side panels, the battery section, speakers and the DVD drive. Panasonic have also categorically stated that in case something does go wrong, users will be charged a fee for the repair service.
All the connectivity options and ports have been hidden under ‘auto-shut’ flap, which is a seemingly irritating part of the design, considering you’ll actually have to hold the flap with one hand and then connect the cables. The right side of the laptop consists of the removable battery pack, the SDXC card reader and the Express slot, along with a USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 port. The back consists of the Ethernet port, HDMI, VGA port, Fischer grade USB slot, COM port, and two standard USB 2.0 ports, whereas the DVD drive is slotted onto the left. The headphone and mic jack slots are located on the front next to the handle. The hinges are extremely sturdy and the CF-53 can do a similar 180 degree collapse as the models in Lenovo’s ThinkPad series. The build of the laptop feels extremely rugged, like the type of laptops you would drop a number of times and still not get worried about, but with a tag of ‘semi - rugged’, you’ll always be a tad bothered about it at the back of your head. Also, the LCD screen doesn’t seem to be reinforced in the same way as the rest of the notebook and feels quite fragile.
The keyboard comes in a dual tone silver and black colour and is located quite high up on the body, so there’s plenty of hand rest. The layout isn’t standard, though. Firstly, the Ctrl and Windows keys next to the directional keypad have been replaced by the Delete and Insert key. The Windows key isn’t often used in that position, but we’re not too sure about the replacement of the Ctrl key. Key sizes are normal, but there’s no dedicated numpad. If there was a choice, we’d have loved to see a similar key placement as the E420.
At 2.6 kg, the laptop looks and feels like a sturdy and strong briefcase, err...notebook and we’re positive that it’ll be able to take a few occasional falls and tumbles.
Updated 24 May, 2013, 3:47 pm IST
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