Panasonic may have "announced" the ToughBook CF-U1 back in March, but it's only now getting around talking speeds, feeds and wallet drain. Even though it uses Intel's "low cost" 1.33GHz Atom Z520 processor, the little ruggedised UMPC will arrive in August (or later, if the rumoured Atom delay is true) at a starting price of US$2,500. Obviously, it's geared towards customers who need a super serious, military-grade resistance to the elements. It runs Vista (with XP downgrade option) from a removable 16GB or 32GB SSD, packs tons of wireless options, weighs 1kg. with two batteries, and runs for 9 hours. If you can get over the teensy 5.6" screen, you got yourself the perfect PC for spelunking, fly fishing or whatever it is you call "extreme." (See more details below.)
Panasonic Unveils the HANDHELD Toughbook CF-U1, a Rugged Ultra mobile PC for FIELD WORKERS IN EXTREME Environments
Manufacturer of award-winning Toughbook® notebook computers introduces the first rugged UMPC equipped with the Intel® Atom™ processor; Reinvention of handheld computing pushes the benefits of enterprise mobile and wireless technology to new frontiers
Secaucus, NJ, June 25, 2008 - In response to the increasing demand for full-function handheld PCs for the mobile field worker, Panasonic Computer Solutions Company, manufacturer of durable, reliable Panasonic Toughbook® mobile computers, today announced the availability of the Panasonic Toughbook CF-U1, the first ultra mobile PC (UMPC) to integrate the new low power Intel® Atom™ processor in a rugged handheld computer for use in the field. With the introduction of the extremely portable Toughbook CF-U1, remote workers are able to connect to critical information and applications in real time, thus improving organizational efficiency, increasing information accuracy, and enabling field-based decision-making. The CF-U1 reinvents handheld computing by integrating robust features previously only available on a full size Toughbook PC in a rugged UMPC form factor that can be used anywhere.
"Panasonic has always been at the forefront of making mobile computing technologies work for users in all conditions," said Rance M. Poehler, president, Panasonic Computer Solutions Company. "We were the first to deliver rugged notebooks in a standard form factor, the first to create a rugged convertible tablet and we have made incredible leaps in mission-critical business computing with our innovations in semi-rugged desktop replacement and sub-notebook technologies. The ultra mobile rugged U1 is another example of how we take advances in mobile technology and make them reliable advances—with new product categories designed for users on the frontiers of mobility where value is truly driven for organizations."
Customer Input Critical to Product Development
"Panasonic builds the new Toughbook CF-U1, but our customers designed it," said Kyp Walls, director of product management, Panasonic Computer Solutions Company. "The form and functionality is a direct result of more than two years of feedback we solicited from an array of government and commercial organizations seeking to address the needs of a broad range of mobile users. We've responded with a highly portable and durable device that offers integrated features such as an LCD touchscreen, solid state drive as well as an optional fingerprint scanner for user authentication. Data capture is enabled using 1D and 2D barcode and RFID readers and a 2-megapixel digital camera. The Toughbook CF-U1 offers full-shift battery life, a sunlight viewable screen and seamless connectivity with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and 3G-mobile-broadband internet connectivity, all within an extremely rugged package for maximum reliability."
Intel® Atom™ Enables Feature-Rich Computing in Small Form Factors
Intel Atom processors pack an astounding 47 million transistors on a single chip smaller than a U.S. dime (measuring less than 25mm), making the Atom Intel's smallest and lowest power consuming processor. The Atom is designed specifically for small devices and features support for multiple threads for better performance and increased system responsiveness all while delivering longer battery life.
"The Intel Atom processor delivers high performance at dramatically low power while maintaining PC compatibility and enabling the best internet experience in small devices," said Anand Chandrasekher, Intel senior vice president and general manager of the company's Ultra Mobility Group. "Intel's low power technologies, combined with Panasonic's longstanding leadership in rugged PCs, are making it possible for mobile field workers to be more productive while reducing TCO for the IT manager."
Engineered for the Walking Worker
Rugged UMPCs must be purpose-built and engineered for the environments in which they will likely be used. The Toughbook® CF-U1 will thrive in environments as diverse as construction sites, mining operations, oil and gas refineries, manufacturing facilities, railroad yards, city streets and storage warehouses. Further, the Toughbook CF-U1 is ideally suited for use by insurance adjusters, building inspectors, police officers, firefighters and other first responders. The Toughbook CF-U1 has several docking options that expand functionality whether in a vehicle, at a desk, or on the move.
"The entrance of the largest rugged notebook manufacturer onto the UMPC market is a key validation of the UMPC for enterprise applications," said Venture Development Corporation analyst David Krebs. "VDC's research validates that UMPCs will receive strong consideration for enterprise applications that require a balance of device portability and application richness and functionality that an x86 device with a full OS provides."
Unlike most handhelds, the Toughbook CF-U1 operates on the full-function Windows® XP and Windows Vista® operating systems, giving users unprecedented remote access to feature-rich software applications in the field. The CF-U1 features a thumb-friendly and always-accessible backlit QWERTY keyboard that makes data input fast and easy. State-of-the-art Panasonic LCD technology enables sunlight viewability with low-power, white LED backlighting. Its fanless all-weather design also reduces noise, weight and eliminates points of failure; its twin, long-lasting, hot-swappable batteries enable battery replacement without disrupting operation; and its magnesium alloy chassis delivers protection from bumps and drops of up to 4 feet. The solid state drive contributes to reliability, while also expanding the CF-U1's operating temperature range.
Wireless Options Offer Connectivity Virtually Anywhere
Throughout its history, Panasonic has been a leader in wireless technologies, recognising the need for workers to be connected while on the move. Panasonic has more experience with embedded wireless solutions than any other manufacturer, providing customers with superior reliability, signal strength and throughput. The Toughbook CF-U1 offers seamless connectivity with:
* Optional integrated 3G mobile broadband for access anywhere with data coverage
* Draft-n compliant Wi-Fi (802.11 a/b/g/draft-n) for faster speeds and greater range
* Integrated Bluetooth radios for simple connection to wireless peripherals
* Optional, next generation (SiRFstarIII based) GPS technology for improved accuracy, faster satellite acquisition time and lower power consumption.
Panasonic Toughbook® CF-U1: Select Features and Specifications
* Genuine Windows Vista® Business with Service Pack 1 (with XP downgrade option)
* Intel® Atom™ processor Z520 1.33GHz with 533MHz FSB, 512KB L2 cache
* 16GB solid state removable drive (32GB optional)
* 1GB memory
* 5.6" WSVGA sunlight viewable touchscreen (1024 x 600 resolution)
* Anti-reflective screen treatment
* LED backlighting
* Extremely rugged
o MIL-STD-810F and IP54 compliant
o 4 foot drop approved
o Magnesium alloy chassis encased with ABS and elastomer
o Removable solid state drive
o Sealed all-weather design
o Rain-, spill-, dust- and vibration-resistant
o Rotating hand strap
* Intel® Wireless WiFi Link 5100 Series (802.11a/g/draft-n)
* Bluetooth® v2.0 + EDR
o USB 2.0 x 1
o SD Card x 1
o Microphone x 1
o Headphone x 1
o Expansion Bus x 1
* Integrated options include 3G mobile broadband, integrated camera, fingerprint scanner, GPS, barcode or RFID readers
* Optional expansion modules for magnetic stripe reader & serial/ethernet/smartcard are expected in late 2008
* Approximately 9 hours of battery life
* 2.3 lbs (with strap and both batteries)
* 2.2" (H) x 7.2" (W) x 5.9" (D)
Panasonic Factory and Independent Quality Testing
Panasonic's commitment to quality—at both the component and finished goods level—results in a total of more than 500 checks and tests before, during and after production, on every Toughbook® unit built. The Rugged Panasonic Toughbook CF-U1 is MIL-STD-810F tested and is capable of withstanding shocks, vibration, humidity, altitude, temperature extremes and thermal shock, and is IP54 compliant for water-, rain- and dust-resistance.
Pricing and Availability
The Panasonic Toughbook CF-U1 UMPC will be available worldwide in August, 2008. In the United States, the base CF-U1 model is expected to be available at an estimated street price of $2,499 from authorised Panasonic resellers and distributors.
About Panasonic Computer Solutions Company
Panasonic Computer Solutions Company empowers the mobile workforce. The company is a unit of Panasonic Corporation of North America, which is the principal North American subsidiary of Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd. (NYSE: MC). Panasonic has delivered reliable, durable mobile solutions through its Toughbook® line of notebook computers for fifteen years and has expanded the boundaries of wireless communications technology through a broad portfolio of products, ranging from fully rugged, industrial strength notebook computers and tablet PCs to business-rugged thin-and-light and ultraportable notebooks. A core manufacturer, Matsushita and its subsidiaries control the entire process of design, manufacture, quality assurance, service and support. As a result, Panasonic Toughbooks are known for having the lowest failure rates in the industry. Government, industrial, and commercial users—from Fortune 1,000 companies to small businesses—rely on solutions from Panasonic, wherever their work takes them.