capsule review

Panasonic Toughbook W2

At a Glance
  • Panasonic Toughbook CF-W2

Panasonic Toughbook W2
Artwork: Rick Rizner, John Goddard

We didn't torture-test the Toughbook W2's shock-mounted hard drive or magnesium-alloy case with 3-foot drops or other ordeals a notebook designed for rough use might face. But this 2.9-pound ruggedized notebook impressed us with its impervious look and feel. Big, shock-absorbing ridges on the lid are designed to protect the notebook during rough use. You can toss the compact Toughbook into your luggage or vehicle and it won't take up much room. It's thick (1.8 inches) at the hinges where the battery is, but only 1.2 inches in front. At 10.6 inches wide by 8.3 inches deep, its footprint is about the size of a sheet of typing paper. Centrino Wi-Fi networking comes built-in.

Equipped with Intel's 900/600-MHz ULV Pentium M, the W2 Toughbook should be able to handle most applications and multitasking jobs. It earned a PC WorldBench 4 score of 105, equaling the average for 2.4-GHz Pentium 4 notebooks we've tested. However, it lags behind the average 1.6-GHz/600-MHz Pentium M by 13 percent. In our battery tests, the Toughbook W2 notched 7 hours, making it the longest-running notebook we've tested to date.

Despite weighing less than 3 pounds, the W2 carries a built-in optical drive (a top-loading DVD-ROM/CD-RW combination drive in our unit). Otherwise, the W2 sports a typically bare-bones ultraportable design. The slanted keyboard has a snazzy round touchpad and curved mouse buttons, but it's cramped and the keys are small. Aside from a SD card slot, the notebook's basic connections include network and modem jacks, a couple of USB 2.0 ports, a monitor connection, and basic audio ports. RAM options top out at 512MB, and the 40GB hard drive is inaccessible. The W2's one built-in speaker is loud enough for watching a movie without headphones. The crisp 12.1-inch screen played our videos without black bands.

You may have to search through an incomplete print manual and a nonindexed electronic manual to find what you need, because some information is located in one manual but not in the other. Still, the documentation for the W2 covers all the features.

With its lightweight but sturdy construction, the W2 Toughbook could be a good choice for a notebook for the road.

Panasonic Toughbook W2


PC WorldBench 4 score of 105, 900/600-MHz ULV Pentium M, 256MB of RAM, Windows XP Professional, 12.1-inch active-matrix screen, shared memory, 40GB hard drive, 8X DVD-ROM and 16X/10X/24X CD-RW combination drive, built-in V.90 modem and network interface, touchpad pointing device, 3.7-pound weight (including AC adapter and phone cord).
$2250
800/662-3537
www.panasonic.com

Carla Thornton

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At a Glance
  • Panasonic Toughbook CF-W2

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