Tuesday, May 11, 2010

First look at Panasonic ToughBook CF-C1 (aka C1)

Today I was lucky enough to play with one of the World’s first Panasonic CF-C1…and loved it! While I have enough been a fan of rugged computers for mainstream (or personal) use I do fully understand the “whys” around the technology and how it came about to exist. While the CF-C1 is not a pretty Tablet, I can suggest it is a robust and well executed effort. It definitely won’t appeal to people looking to buy a Lenovo Tablet, or a toy-ish ASUS T91, it will definitely fill a gap in the market as a tough (as the name implies) and reliable business tool!

Just like the time I had world’s first look at the Fujitsu P1610, and the world’s first look at the HTC Shift, and even Raon Digital VEGA (now I'm showing my geek age!) on this occasion my time with the C1 (although not world's first) was brief and secretive. In a veil of excitement the Panasonic representative came swooping into my home, turned, flipped, held, pointed, prodded and showcases the unit to me. After nearly an hour we debated its merits and everyone walked away contented! While by no stretch of the imagination would I call this a review, I would, based on nearly a decade of playing with these toys, post some quick thoughts.

  • Felt extremely light – at 1.6kgs it’s not entirely a featherweight but the weight distribution felt great
  • The touchscreen (I believe capacitive) was very light and easy to use, while the Wacom digitizer exceptionally silky.
  • Tablet swivel hinge was extremely sturdy – like most ToughBook designs the swivel was over engineered IMHO but certainly justified on the CF-C1
  • Dual battery (hotswappable) bays are great – and at 5hrs per battery, totalling a predicted 10hrs, it certainly will turn heads 
  • Price will be sub $3k AUD (equivalent to early US$2K before taxes) is reasonably for such a device
  • Felt too light! Hard too believe I'd say this, but I mean too light when compared to the image (and impression) the ToughBook brand carries. Almost didn't feel like a ToughBook.
  • Stylus bay very weak – obviously could be a result of the preproduction unit I played with but when I took the stylus out, and packed it away, there was a real air of “cheapness” around it. I’m sure that will be fixed. 
  • As stated above, the swivel is over engineered, but I can see why it’s done that way
  • Styling leaves a lot to be desired, especially with the “orthopaedic-styled” palm rest on the underbelly of the unit, but once again “I get it”, it’s TOUGH!
Here are some pictures. Ask me anything you want. I believe it will be released officially in Australia on the first week of June with global locations following similar timelines. If you’re in business chasing a Tablet it may be worth a looks…especially if you work on a farm, drive a pickup, and chew tobacco! LOL!

Hinge: long parallel bracket with built-in stoppers
(only swivels in one direction)

Lock: to prevent from swivelling,
when Tablet is in traditional notebook stance

Screen locked in place.
(good view of hinge bracketry)

Side view: swivel locked

Front on: the mouse pad really jumped out as odd

12.1" C1 sizes up comparably (and a little unnecessarily) to my 13.3" Fujitsu T900H

C1 needs a little more tilt to swivel due to parallel bracket

Thickness similar at nearly 40mm each
(<1.5" for Fujitsu, and <1.7" for C1)

Very practical palm rest/grip:
like a good pair of Crocs I guess, i.e. very comfy but not sexy! LOL

Your pair of Crocs! LOL

Express slot, smart card, USB, VGA, air vent

Power port, Ethernet, 56k modem (WTF), air vent, 2x USB

Throwing up some good numbers!

Some switches, lights, and SD card slot (nice)

lid closed


bob said...

You've mentioned some of the bright UMPC stars that 'sputtered' out. Guess OQO was the most jolting. Think part of the problem was that Origami was too restrictive and left makers nowhere to go when the netbook challenge came. What is needed now is a spectacular comeback from the UMPC. Question is, after the hiding they've taken do they have the will let alone the means?

Hugo Gaston Ortega said...

Hi Bob!

Great comment and great thought! I'm always thinking the same and battling to make sure the right products and people get exposed to each other! iPad will win many battles but ultimately never empower users like a Windows based PC... i.e. it's "all about Steve!". LOL!

Keep an eye out for the Viliv S10 (AWESOME!!!) and the N5. I like these two coming up! :-)

Thanks for the comment and stay in touch as there is lots more to talk about.