Panasonic breaks new rugged ground with 7-inch Toughpad tablet

by David Needle

January 6 2014

Panasonic has expanded its rugged Toughpad line with the addition of the 7-inch FZ-M1, touted as the thinnest rugged tablet of its kind.

The new tablet runs Windows 8.1 Pro (64-bit) on a fanless Intel Core i5 vPro processor. On the rugged front, the tablet boasts a MIL-STD-810G rating for shock and drop (up to five feet) reliability and temperature extremes as well as an IP65 certification for dust and water resistance. 

The 1.2 pounds tablet was actually tossed to someone (who intentionally dropped it) during a press conference and it continued running.

Connectivity includes a USB 3.0 port and microSDXC slot, with options for barcode, MSR, SmartCard, Serial and LAN features as well as WiFi, dedicated GPS, NFC, UHF RFID, Bluetooth 4.0 and optional, integrated LTE connectivity. 

The user-replaceable battery is rated for 8 hours of use and an optional hot swap, high capacity battery (16 hours) will also be available. The tablet includes a 720P built-in front camera with mic; 5MP rear camera with auto focus and LED light.

Enterprise-class security features include encryption, IPsec VPN, trusted boot and root protection as well as 3-year warranty. 

Rance Poehler, president of Panasonic System Communications Company of North America, said the new tablet meets the needs of a growing segment of users who want tablets that are more than good enough when it comes to ruggedness:

“Most tablets on the market today are designed to be ‘good enough’ to meet most users’ needs," he said "But ‘good enough’ won’t cut it for a large portion of the mobile workforce, who need tools they can depend on in challenging conditions to get the job done without compromise."

The Toughpad FZ-M1 won't be available until "early spring 2014" at an expected " street price" of $2,099.

(Unlike off-the-shelf tablets, ruggedized devices come with their own lexicon and rating criteria. Download this whitepaper now to help you navigate the terms and acronyms so you can make informed decisions.)

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