Let’s be clear from the start: the Panasonic Toughbook 40 isn’t the right choice for an “average” laptop user. This is a rugged 14in notebook designed for defense personnel (army, navy) but with a weather eye on police forces and utility companies.
You don’t have to order the Toughbook 40 in the thousands. For example, if you run a garage or a small building business then you might want to order just a couple. But prices for one or two machines will be much higher than when you order tens, hundreds or more.
Even then, you can expect to pay around £3,500 (US $3,500, AUS $6,000) per unit, depending upon specification and the level of customisation.
Why is the Panasonic Toughbook so expensive?
The reason you pay so much? Because of the incredibly durability built into this machine. This laptop is designed to keep working in conditions where humans are at their limit, such as intense humidity, heat and altitude.
For example, it has an operating temperature range of -29°C to +63°C. It has also been rated to IP66 ingress protection standards. So, it will keep going in both sandy conditions and in fierce rain.
That means no corner cutting. Every component will be top quality, from the magnesium chassis to the antenna for Wi-Fi 6 and 4G (optional 5G) radios. What’s more, it will go through a painful level of testing that would make consumer laptops quiver.
When we visited Panasonic’s EU headquarters, we interviewed one of the men responsible for this. The noise you hear in the background is a Toughbook 40 going through vibration tests.
What makes the Panasonic Toughbook 40 tough?
The Panasonic Toughbook is tough for two key reasons: the construction method and the testing procedures. If a material deforms after three days of heat tests (where it cycles between extreme heat and extreme cold) then it must be replaced or enhanced. That includes any peripherals, such as mounting kits for tanks.
You also get an insight from the video below, where one of the heads of Panasonic’s service department provides a teardown of the Toughbook 40. He mentions components being designed to move, which means they won’t be troubled by running over rough ground.
The other key point from the video is how easy it is to replace every key component. Right down to the fan on the processor. So, if sand gets into the mechanism then it’s possible to remove this and clean it.
It also means that almost every Toughbook that comes into Panasonic’s repair service (the one in Wales repairs machines for the whole of Europe) can be fixed and returned to its user within a week.
Is the Panasonic Toughbook bulletproof?
Oddly, people do ask this question. And the answer is yes, but within limits. When a Forbes contributor wrote about the CF-31 back in 2009, he threw it to tigers and elephants with no meaningful damage.
Ultimately, bullets did kill that Toughbook. Even then, though, they needed to be .45 calibre bullets rather than the .22 of a rifle.
How fast is the Toughbook 40?
You aren’t getting Intel’s latest chips inside the Toughbook 40. Right now, they’re two generations behind, with either the Core i5-1145G7 vPro or Core i7-1185G7 vPro inside. (Read our separate guide to what Intel vPro is.) Those are still speedy chips, but roughly 20% slower than their 2023 equivalents.
The basic Toughbook 40 comes with 16GB of DDR4 RAM, which is again more than enough to keep Windows 11 Pro happy (you can downgrade to Windows 10 during the install process). The Toughbook 40 goes up to 64GB.
Panasonic supplies a 512GB NVMe OPAL SSD. The OPAL refers to its enhanced security abilities; the SSDs come in modules that can be removed and replaced. Useful if you need to swap the machines between missions with different classified information on them.
Will the Panasonic Toughbook 40 survive drops?
Definitely. This is one of its big plus points, with the Toughbook 40 designed to survive drops from a height of 1.8m. When we visited Panasonic, it allowed someone to drop it from over 3m onto concrete and it survived the first test without any damage.
When it was dropped for a second time, the screen did smash. However, Panasonic then took it in for repair – and it came back, otherwise unharmed, in around 25 minutes.
Does the Toughbook 40 have a touchscreen?
Yes. At first sight, there’s nothing special about the 14in touchscreen, but it’s designed to work in five modes: 10-finger multitouch, capacitive pen, gloves, multitouch in the wet, and capacitive pen in the wet.
On previous Toughbooks, you had to manually switch between modes, but the Toughbook 40 will automatically switch.
The other clever thing about the screen is its range of brightness. It can go from two candela all the way up to 1,200 candela. You might want the low brightness (equivalent to two candles) in a night-time operation, where you don’t want to give away your location. And the peak brightness is to ensure the screen can be read in harsh sunlight.
Incidentally, the speakers are also designed for loud conditions, peaking at 95dBA. Still not up to battle situations, but it means you’ll be able to hear the Toughbook 40 on an urban street.
How long does the battery last?
With a single battery, Panasonic reckons you can get up to 18 hours from the Toughbook 40. However, add a second battery and that doubles to 36 hours — and because you can hot-swap them, it can keep on going for as long as you can keep supplying fresh batteries.
Panasonic Toughbook 40 in pictures
What is the Panasonic Toughbook 40’s specification?
|Processor||Intel Core i5-1145G7 vPro or Core i7-1185G7 vPro|
|Operating system||Windows 11 Pro (10 Pro downgrade option)|
|Memory||16GB DDR4 (up to 64GB, two sockets)|
|Graphics||Intel Iris Xe (Intel UHD when one RAM module installed)|
|Storage||512GB NVMe SSD (up to 2TB)|
|Screen||14in IPS touchscreen, 1,920 x 1,080|
|Webcam||5 megapixels with privacy shutter (supports Windows Hello)|
|Mics||4 x mics|
|Ethernet||Wired gigabit plus second optional|
|Wireless||Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1|
|Mobile||4G LTE or 5G (eSIM options)|
|GPS||GPS, GLONASS, Beidou, Galileo|
|USB||2 x USB-A 3.2 Gen 1|
|Thunderbolt||1 x Thunderbolt|
|HDMI||1 x HDMI|
|SD||1 x microSDXC slot|
|Other ports||3.5mm headset, DC input|
|Battery||6,500mAh (typical), approx 18 hours|
|Dimensions||354 x 301 x 54mm (WDH)|
|In the box||Capacitive pen, display cleaning cloth|
Generative AI is about more than just automating sales and marketing. It’s about making it more personal, too.
Amazon and Microsoft trade blows over cloud competition
Chetna Gogia, Chief Human Resources Officer at GoKwik: “Go deep in acquiring the right knowledge before you advise on HR practices to management”
In this Coffee with HR interview, we speak to Chetna Gogia, Chief Human Resources Officer at GoKwik. She has over 20+ years of experience leading HR functions across various sectors