Panasonic’s latest Toughbook hides a surprisingly good computer under its rugged exterior

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At first glance, Panasonic’s latest Toughbook — the Toughbook 33 — looks a lot like every other Toughbook model out there. Rugged exterior, covered ports, bulky plastic design clearly meant more for durability than aesthetics.

But the most impressive thing about the Toughbook isn’t that it’s as close to indestructible as a laptop can be, but rather that in addition to being incredibly durable, it’s also still got specs that are just as good as any other high-end laptop on the market.

The Toughbook 33 is a 2-in-1 convertible, with a completely detachable 12-inch tablet featuring a 4K touchscreen offering some unique software features to allow it to function in rain or while wearing gloves. Panasonic is selling the Toughbook 33 in both Intel Core i5 and Core i7 variants — the latest Kaby Lake models if you’re willing to run Windows 10, and Skylake chips if you still need to run Windows 7 (which many Toughbook customers do for backwards compatibility purposes.) Windows 10 users will be able to use Windows Hello using the integrated camera, which also has IR for use in darker situations. RAM is either 8GB and 16GB, while storage is a choice between a 256GB or 512GB SSD. Also available is optional on-board LTE, with support for Verizon, AT&T, or Sprint. Battery life is rated for 10 hours using the standard batteries, or up to 20 hours using the optional long life batteries. The Toughbook 33 uses two batteries at a time, meaning that you can also hot-swap them without shutting down the laptop for even further battery life. The biggest downside here is the size — at 6.1 pounds, it’s not exactly the lightest laptop around (for reference, at 3.02 pounds, a 13-inch MacBook Pro weights less than half of that.)

Of course, the Toughbook 33 is still a Toughbook, which means that it’s tested to survive a wide range of conditions. According to Panasonic, the Toughbook 33 is designed to meet the military grade MIL-STD-810G specification (which tests against an impressive list of scenarios including “drop, shock, vibration, rain, dust, sand, altitude, freeze/thaw, high/low temperature, temperature shock, solar radiation, salt fog, humidity, [and] explosive atmosphere.”), the MIL-STD-461 specification for electromagnetic compatibility, and is IP65 certified against dust and water.

The Toughbook 33 (and the Toughbook line in general) is designed more for police officers, firefighters, EMS technicans, and other demanding in-the-field jobs that need that kind of durability than it is for the average consumer, so you won’t be able to buy one directly from Panasonic, although apparently there will be resellers that will offer the device if you’d really like to buy one. It’s also not particularly cheap — while Panasonic is offering a wide variety of configurations based on specific needs and use cases, the Toughbook 33 starts at $3,649.

Still, even though it’s decidedly not meant for the average consumer, I can’t help but want one anyway. A Windows 10 laptop with the latest Intel hardware and a 4K screen that can get up to 20 hours of battery life and has LTE connectivity? Why aren’t there consumer laptops like that?

#gadgetbingo

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