The Evolution of Semi-Rugged Mobile Computing

Panasonic made its first fully-rugged entry into the rugged mobile computing market back in 1996 with the Toughbook 25. As the demand for such devices grew, so did the market. However, these devices, often used in military and public safety settings, were over engineered for other markets such as insurance, military support and logistics, field sales and construction. These markets needed much more durability than a commercial grade laptop, but not to the level of a fully-rugged device.

To meet this need, Panasonic pioneered the semi-rugged category with the Toughbook 71, a device that could still handle many of the bumps, drops and spills like fully-rugged notebooks, but without the breadth of military-grade specifications and their attendant weight and cost. Over the past decade, these semi-rugged computers became popular on a global scale, with deployments in insurance, field service, military, service bay and other markets. As an example, insurance company Aflac equipped its sales force with semi-rugged Toughbook 74s, mobile computers far more durable and reliable than standard consumer grade-devices. The deployment allowed Aflac to eliminate its paper-based system which, in turn, improved productivity, greatly lowered laptop failures in the field and allowed its sales force to focus on generating new business.

While the fully-rugged Toughbook line was designed for constant mobility in demanding operating environments, the semi-rugged Toughbook was positioned as a desktop replacement – allowing mobile professionals to bring their one computer into the field without fear of failure. Since its launch in 1999, this line has become more of an in-field computer as a new class of mobile workers developed. As a result, we continued to improve on performance, weight and durability. A semi-rugged device is perfect for workers who spend more time on the job site than in the office – if it can be done at your desk, it can probably be done in your vehicle as well. Having the right mobile office can produce at least a few hours per week in productivity, increase your time in the field and even boost your bottom line.

Typical features of a semi-rugged Toughbook include a full magnesium alloy case, shock-mounted hard drive and LCD, and flexible internal connectors for additional protection. The unique Panasonic spill-resistant keyboard design protects against liquid spills of about 6 ounces (200 cc) and port covers protect connectors. In fact, the Toughbook 52 has a 1.60% average annual failure rate, that’s nearly twelve times lower than the industry average reported in a survey done by in September 2010.

Our new Toughbook 53 continues this evolution in semi-rugged mobile computing and is the first Toughbook device offering optional 4G LTE mobile broadband and numerous other features intended to increase productivity and maximize return on investment. Starting at only 5.6 pounds and delivering up to 10 hours of battery life, the Toughbook 53 is also the first Panasonic notebook to support a 14” high definition LED display and offers an optional 2-800 nit sunlight-viewable Panasonic CircuLumin™ touchscreen plus an adjustable backlit emissive keyboard. These features make the Toughbook 53 the ideal candidate for use in any lighting condition. The Toughbook 53 features a larger touchpad (by 25%) and includes multi touch with zoom and scroll capabilities, and delivers an optional dual antenna pass-through for in-vehicle use in passenger cars and light-duty trucks, perfect for professionals whose vehicles regularly serve as mobile offices.

The new Toughbook 53 builds on our longstanding goal of designing products that fit the needs of our customers. The device is a testament to that goal, making it ideal for mobile professionals looking for performance, versatility and reliability.