Panasonic Toughbook CF-C1 review

22 Nov 2010

With ultraportable weight, plenty of power and some splendid on-the-road features, it's worth the high price

Price when reviewed: 
2,208(£2,208 inc VAT)
5

The convertible laptop concept isn't new, but there's something remarkable about the way the Panasonic Toughbook family combines its famous durability with surprising portability. Indeed, the family's newest member, the Toughbook CF-C1, lays claim to being the lightest convertible tablet on the market.

The CF-C1 is classed as business-rugged, so it doesn't boast the nigh-on indestructible physique of the fully-rugged models elsewhere in Panasonic's range. It still sits a chunky 58mm from the desk, which doesn't sound or feel like a step forward from its fully-rugged siblings. But appearances can be, and are, deceptive: at just 1.49kg it's not much heavier than the most featherlight ultraportables.

Panasonic Toughbook CF-C1

Yet the CF-C1 sticks to the usual Toughbook design brief. The thick-set magnesium alloy frame is hardly catwalk stuff, but it both looks and feels entirely utilitarian: its priority is practicality, and it doesn't care a jot about doing it with style. The oversized chassis leaves plenty of room around the vital components inside, so, in the event of an accidental drop or blow, it keeps working where other notebooks would give up the ghost.

Panasonic rates the CF-C1 to survive drops of 30in, and we can believe it. Press as hard as you like on the lid and, while the plastic gives, there's not the slightest hint of it breaking through to the TFT panel inside. In fact, despite the low weight, the whole chassis feels impressively resilient and flex-free. And if you're clumsy enough to pour a cup of tea across the keyboard you'll see it trickle harmlessly from drainage ports on the underside.

Our model came with the 12.1in 1,280 x 800 capacitive multitouch panel - although a resistive panel is available for applications where gloved usage is required. Spin the display round on its axis and flatten it into Tablet mode, and it works as well with the prod of a finger as it does the stylus, which neatly stows away on the right flank. Viewing angles aren't fantastic, and there's a little grain due to the touch layer above the LCD panel itself, but it's fine for business purposes and, crucially, the brightness is high enough for outdoor usage.

Details

Price ex VAT £1,879
Price inc VAT £2,208
Overall rating 5
Features & Design 5
Value for Money 4
Performance 5

Warranty

Warranty 3yr collect and return

Physical specifications

Dimensions 299 x 227 x 58mm (WDH)
Weight 1.490kg
Travelling weight 1.9kg
Weight with extended battery 1.7kg

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Core i5-520M
Motherboard chipset Intel QM57 Express
RAM capacity 2.00GB
Memory type DDR3
SODIMM sockets free 1
SODIMM sockets total 2

Screen and video

Screen size 12.1in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,280
Resolution screen vertical 800
Resolution 1280 x 800
Graphics chipset Intel HD graphics
Graphics card RAM 128MB
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 1
HDMI outputs 0
S-Video outputs 0
DVI-I outputs 0
DVI-D outputs 0
DisplayPort outputs 0

Drives

Capacity 250GB
Hard disk usable capacity 233GB
Spindle speed 5,400RPM
Internal disk interface SATA/300
Hard disk Hitachi HTS545025B9SA00
Optical disc technology none
Optical drive N/A
Battery capacity 6,000mAh
Replacement battery price inc VAT £0

Networking

Wired adapter speed 1,000Mbits/sec
802.11a support yes
802.11b support yes
802.11g support yes
802.11 draft-n support yes
Integrated 3G adapter yes
Bluetooth support yes

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switch yes
Wireless key-combination switch no
Modem no
ExpressCard34 slots 0
ExpressCard54 slots 0
PC Card slots 1
USB ports (downstream) 3
FireWire ports 0
PS/2 mouse port no
9-pin serial ports 0
Parallel ports 0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports 0
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports 0
3.5mm audio jacks 2
SD card reader yes
Memory Stick reader no
MMC (multimedia card) reader no
Smart Media reader no
Compact Flash reader no
xD-card reader no
Pointing device type Touchpad
Audio chipset Conexant SmartAudio HD
Speaker location Right-hand edge
Hardware volume control? no
Integrated microphone? yes
Integrated webcam? no
Camera megapixel rating N/A
TPM yes
Fingerprint reader no
Smartcard reader no
Carry case no

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use 5hr 4min
Overall application benchmark score 1.55
Office application benchmark score 1.28
2D graphics application benchmark score 1.63
Encoding application benchmark score 1.51
Multitasking application benchmark score 1.77
3D performance (crysis) low settings N/A
3D performance setting N/A

Operating system and software

Operating system Windows 7 Professional 32-bit
OS family Windows 7
Recovery method Recovery disc
Software supplied N/A