LAS VEGAS—If you're looking for a tablet that's built like a tank, the sturdy Toughpad series is as far as you need go. Just expect to pay a premium.
In addition to its jaw-dropping 20-inch, 5.3-pound tablet demo, Panasonic announced a pair of new ToughPad models to fill out its lineup. Already out is the Toughpad FZ-A1, a ruggedized 10.1-inch Android tablet that's aimed at business applications with its weatherproofing, daylight-readable display, and removable battery.
"This is a business tool for somebody who wants to work outside in any kind of weather, including rain," explains Walls of the lineup, which starts in price at $1199 for the new 7-inch model, the Toughpad JT-B1.
The Toughpad line supports such business-friendly features like encryption, IPsec VPN, trusted boot, root protection and FIPS compliance. There's even an enterprise-focused app store.
The 7-inch tablet looks, as you might expect, like the little brother of the 10.1-inch TZ-A1 Android tablet (which is now certified on the Verizon Wireless 4G/LTE network). Inside, it runs Android 4.0, 1GB of RAM, and TI's 1.5GHz dual-core OMAP 4460 processor (making it one of the last OMAP products to likely to come to market, considering that TI is no loner in the chip business). The tablet has a Micro SD card slot, and micro USB port. The front camera is 1.3 megapixels, while the rear camera is an impressive (by sheer pixel count, at least) 13 megapixels. The battery is replaceable, and is rated to last 8 hours. Notably, the tablet puts its microSD card slot and charging ports beneath locked doors, for their protection.
The tablet is rated for a 5-foot drop, supports IP65, and can operate in extreme conditions of 14 degrees to 122 degrees Farenheit. It weighs 1.2 pounds, and stands 0.7-inch thick; on the back is a comfy strap that makes it easier to hand-hold.
Meanwhile, the Toughpad FZ-G1, also announced at CES, brings a similar level of ruggedization to a new 10.1-inch tablet for the Windows crowd. This model supports up to a 4-foot drop, and comes with an 1.9GHz (up to 2.9GHz) Intel Core i5-3437U vPro processor, 4GB of RAM (expandable to 8GB), a 128GB SSD *up to 256GB), and optional micro SDXC card slot and 4G LTE support. The display is bright, at 800 nit, and it has a high resolution, 1920 by 1200 pixels. It, too, has a replaceable battery rated for up to 8 hours. This tablet is slightly thicker, at 0.75-inch, and weighs 2.43 pounds. Like the FZ-A1 Android tablet, the Windows varietal has a Wacom digitizer for pen input. It also has a full-size USB 3.0 port and an HDMI port, plus a wired LAN and a serial port.
The FZ-A1, now shipping, starts at $1299, while the new 7-inch JT-B1 will ship in February at $1199. The Windows 8 Pro-based FZ-G1 carries the highest premium: It will ship in March starting at $2899.