Panasonic Toughbook CF-Y7 review
Larger and more powerful than its predecessor, but battery life suffers as a result.
Review Date: 5 Mar 2008
Reviewed By: Matthew Sparkes
Price when reviewed: £1,446 (£1,663 inc VAT)
Panasonic's semi-rugged series of laptops is a compromise between stylish but fragile consumer notebooks and expensive rugged portables that can shrug off a fall down a flight of stairs or a spot of word processing in the rain.
It's for those users that expect a notebook to receive a few bumps and scrapes along the way, rather than heavy blows and drops. In compensation, it's also cheaper and lighter than fully ruggedised notebooks.
This new CF-Y7 is a larger and more powerful version of the CF-W7 we reviewed recently and there's little to tell the two apart. The new model is slightly larger due to a bigger screen - 14in rather than 12.1in - but that's where the differences end.
It's a slight disappointment because the original CF-W7 was hardly an elegant design. The CF-Y7 has the same unsightly bulge on the front of the lid that extends over the bottom of the chassis when closed - and there are other ugly design features, too.
The button to open the lid is gouged out of the chassis under the trackpad, and the catch itself is a plastic loop that extends 8mm from the screen surround, rather than the much neater invisible magnetic 'catches' increasingly found on retail laptops. It's reassuring, though, as the screen is unlikely to open in the event of a drop.
The bulge on the lid is there for a good reason, too. It's all very well protecting the delicate internal components, but there's not much point if the screen is cracked. Thus, the back of the lid and the rear of the TFT panel are separated by over 20mm at its widest point, which provides peace of mind if the notebook is going to be subjected to rough treatment. Despite the larger screen, though, it's 6mm thinner than the CF-W7.
The chassis of the CF-Y7 is also constructed of a strong magnesium alloy, inside which sits a floating mechanism to stop the impact of a drop being passed on to the hard disk. This all helps to give the Toughbook good protection from knocks - Panasonic claim that the notebook can survive falls from 76cm - so we dropped it from waist height a few times to see if the laptop would survive. It passed with flying colours.
One area where the CF-Y7 does represent a dramatic departure from its smaller predecessor is power. In our 2D benchmarks it scored 0.90 - almost doubling the score achieved by the CF-W7. This is impressive for any laptop, let alone a semi-rugged model, especially considering that the components are far from cutting edge - a 1.6GHz Intel Cure 2 Duo and only 1GB of RAM. Luckily, XP is shipped with these Toughbooks, so that memory goes a lot further than it would under Vista.
This improved performance, along with the larger screen, also has a negative impact on battery life. In our light use tests it lasted just over five hours - two-and-a-half hours less than the smaller, and slower, CF-W7, but it's far from terrible.
In other areas, however, the Toughbook is unexceptional. The screen is bright when turned up to maximum, but this has a detrimental impact on battery life. At a more modest setting colours can look washed out, although the 1,400 x 1,050 resolution offers plenty of room in which to work.
The keyboard is slightly larger than on the previous Toughbook, but this doesn't stop some keys from being shrunk. For the most part this isn't a problem, but the half-width backspace button is infuriating. More often than not we found the Home button instead, catapulting our cursor to the start of a line. Even if you ignore this problem, the keyboard feels plasticky and light.
- Sony unveils two-in-one USB stick for tablet storage
- HP's Whitman: desktops aren't dead
- Windows RT may go free as Microsoft targets Android
- Yahoo Mail outage blamed on "hardware problems"
- What's on this week's PC Pro podcast?
- Spotify now free on tablets and smartphones
- Nokia's Android smartphone "due next year"
- MPs push for tighter laws against online spying
- Should Microsoft make Windows 8 free?
- Canonical finds first partner for Ubuntu Touch smartphones
- Play it again: Berlin's Computer Game Museum
- Switching from iPhone to Android: what I miss, what I don't
- Tech City: Easy to score when you move the goalposts
- How to remove SkyDrive from the Windows 8.1 Explorer
- Switching from iPhone to Android? Switch off iMessage
- Why is Google pumping more money into Firefox?
- Sky Broadband Shield review
- Samsung Galaxy S4: how to double your battery life
- Motorola Moto G review: first look
- IBM Watson meets Willy Wonka
- Best tablet PCs to buy in 2013
- Closer to reality: photorealism in computer graphics
- Windows 8.1: Top 10 advanced features
- Securing the Internet of Things
- Internet of Things: five unlikely hacking risks
- Life behind the wall: censorship in China
- 42 best Android apps
- 3D museums that never close
- 29 best Windows 8.1 apps
- Bring an old PC up to speed
- The importance of load balancing
- Windows Phone App Studio: an easy way to create your first Windows Phone 8 app
- The end of Windows XP support: what it really means for businesses
- Don't rely on Chrome's password vault
- Using Buffer to manage your social media
- Microsoft needs its own Steve Jobs
- Forget credit cards: hackers want your Facebook account
- Can't get fast enough broadband? Here's what to do
- Leap Motion and the battle against UI stagnation
- How to build a really bad network
There are dozens of exciting prizes up for grabs on PC Pro Competitions. All our competitions are free to enter. Try your luck.ENTER NOW