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Panasonic Toughbook CF-53 review

Verdict

A refined and well-built industrial all-rounder that packs in a better feature set and higher performance than its price suggests

Review Date: 18 Oct 2011

Reviewed By: David Bayon

Price when reviewed: £1,184 (£1,421 inc VAT)

Overall Rating
5 stars out of 6

Features & Design
5 stars out of 6

Value for Money
4 stars out of 6

Performance
4 stars out of 6

PCPRO Recommended

We often talk about build quality when it comes to laptops, but Panasonic’s Toughbooks are a breed apart. Put simply, the semi-ruggedised CF-53 is the laptop equivalent of an army all-terrain vehicle: a 54mm magnesium-thickened chassis weighing 2.6kg; rubber seals over all interfaces; and a hard disk mounted in shock-absorbing polymers. You can drop it from up to 76cm and splash water over the keyboard, safe in the knowledge the Toughbook won’t even blink.

Panasonic Toughbook CF-53 - ports

Using it feels like puzzling over a retro toy, with one flap on the right edge hiding a USB 2 and USB 3 port, and another masking ExpressCard/54, PC Card and SD slots, and a switch for the dual-band 802.11agn Wi-Fi. A third slides down to provide access to the removable battery – which we’ll come to later – while the rear has doors hiding two more USB 2 ports, Ethernet, HDMI and D-SUB outputs, and even a serial port.

A DVD drive sits on the left edge, with a 320GB hard disk in an easily removable SATA caddy; there's even a heated alternative available for use in extreme environments.

Then there’s the retractable carrying handle on the front edge, which minimises the impact of the weight, and the connector on the base that accepts Panasonic’s port replicator. Whether it's back at a desk or being slung around with its integrated carry handle, the CF-53 is ready for anything.

Panasonic Toughbook CF-53 - carry handle

The 14in 1,366 x 768 display is matte and more than a bit grainy compared to the pin-sharp glossy screens we’re used to, but the screen is perfectly usable - we measured its brightness at 276cd/m2 - and it has a protective layer over it. If a traditional display just doesn't cut it, Panasonic also sells the CF-53 with a touchscreen.

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User comments

Totally pointless for me...

....but i want want want. I could use it to clout muggers.

By creechitup on 18 Oct 2011

We use the older versions at work, absolutely vital for a lot of our field based trials.

By skarlock on 19 Oct 2011

A little heavy

It is too heavy to mobile work. I just use the dell vostro 1510 for work. See detail info here: http://www.laptopbattery4.co.uk/dell-vostro-1510-b
attery.htm

By luxl85 on 22 Dec 2011

Panasonic CF53

I have one of these and I like it. The problem is that Panasonics customer support is exceptionally poor, forget writing on their website as they do not respond, forget them saying they'll call you back as they won't. As well as having problems buying it, please be careful where you order one as it appears Panasonic still support a dealer who cannot and will not supply them but will take your money. I recently only just needed a replacement charger and despite saying they have them in stock they will not release them and say you need to go through their re-sellers. The re-sellers say that Panasonic will not release them too. So I have no charger (the cheap ones you buy dont last long as I have had two that have gone pop !!)
Nice computer but rubbish customer sevice.

By dcrs6 on 10 Mar 2012

Panasonic (NON) Support

As the above post, Panansonic customer support is non existent. You want drivers? Good luck trying to find them on the website. They do offer to sort these out if you send it back with an order number to cover ANY works they need to do. DO NOT TOUCH THEM WITH A BARGEPOLE! I have overseen the elimination of 27 of these from our operation, all replaced by DELLS. My support costs have fallen and I get better kit. AVOID PANASONIC!

By Tricky4a on 31 Oct 2012

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