Panasonic broke out a couple of new business-rugged tablets in Las Vegas this week. Looking at the Goliath end of the equation first, the company has announced a performance version of the 20-inch high resolution Toughpad monster we caught a glimpse of at last year's CES. At the other, David, end comes a highly configurable 7-inch, hard-as-nails mobile workstation which goes by the name of the FZ-M1.
The Panasonic Toughpad 4K UT-MA6 is a beefed up performance version of the company's Toughpad 4K UT-MB5 tablet, which will be made available next month for US$5,999. Like it's now "standard" sibling, the new tablet sports a 20-inch, 3840 x 2560 resolution (230 ppi) multi-touch IPS display with LED backlighting and runs Windows 8.1 Professional out of the box, but customers can opt to downgrade to Win7 Pro if Microsoft's latest OS doesn't suit.
The differences start with a 3rd generation 2.1 GHz Intel Core i7-3687U vPro processor (which can be ramped up to 3.3 GHz with Turbo Boost), supported by 16 GB of DDR3 SDRAM and 256 GB solid state storage (with SD card expansion). This model also packs an Nvidia Quadro K1000M GPU with 2 GB of dedicated video memory.
Stunning visuals and component powerhouse specs aside, the 18.7 x 13.1 x 0.49 in (47.5 x 33.3 x 1.2 cm), 5.6 lb (2.5 kg) MA6 benefits from a magnesium-alloy frame and a glass-fiber reinforced case, and is reported able to withstand a (powered off) drop from 12 inches (30 cm) from 26 different angles, or a fall of up to 30 inches onto its back (powered on). Security measures include a TPM (trusted platform module) chip, Computrace theft protection agent in the BIOS, Intel Anti-Theft technology, and an integrated smartcard reader.
There's a 720p webcam to the front, and a 5 megapixel snapper at the back, integrated speakers and microphone, and an optional optical pen caters for onscreen input precision. Around its edges you'll find USB 3.0, mini-DisplayPort and Gigabit LAN ports, and wireless connectivity needs are met by Bluetooth 4.0 and 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi. A 3180 mAh Li-ion battery is said to give 2.5 hours of undocked use.
The Toughpad 4K UT-MA6 will be available some time in Q2 for a list price of $6,999.
Panasonic also took the wraps off a somewhat smaller Toughpad at CES, the 7-inch FZ-M1. This fanless slate features a daylight-readable (500-nit) 1280 x 800 multi-touch IPS display panel with anti-reflective coating, runs Win8.1 Pro and has been treated to a 4th generation, 1.6 GHz Core i5-4302Y vPro processor, 8 GB of DDR3 RAM, and either 128 or 256 GB solid state drive options, both with heaters.
Other published specs include microSD card expansion, USB 3.0, one speaker and integrated microphone, a HD webcam to the front and a 5 megapixel camera with LED flash at the back. It also benefits from the same set of security features as the 20-inch model detailed above.
The magnesium alloy chassis with ABS and elastomer corner guards benefits from IP65-rated, weather-resistant sealing, and the tablet can brush off a drop from as high as 5 ft (1.5 m). It can cope with vibration, altitude low/high temperatures and humidity to MIL-STD-820G standards, and has also been submitted for ANSI 12.12.1 certification for use in explosive atmospheres.
Configurations and options are at the heart of this 7.98 x 5.2 x 0.71 in (20.3 x 13.2 x 1.8 cm), 1.2 lb (0.5 kg) Toughpad's design. It comes with 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 wireless connectivity, but there's also the option to add 4G/LTE multi-carrier mobile internet with satellite GPS and optional dedicated SiRFstarIII GPS.
Then there's the 3220 mAh Li-ion battery for 8 hours between charges, with the option to double up time by selecting a 7100 mAh long-life battery. Other configuration options include a smart card reader, magnetic strip reader and NFC.
The FZ-M1 will hit the streets in Q2 for a starting price of around $2,100.
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