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Panasonic Toughbook 74

Panasonic updates its business semi-rugged model
(by Conrad H. Blickenstorfer)

The Toughbook 74 is an updated version of Panasonic's popular semi-rugged Toughbook 73. Like the older model, the 74 does the seemingly impossible: it provides state-of-the-art notebook power in a sleek yet very sturdy package. With its spill-resistant keyboard, tough magnesium case for both the system unit and the LCD display, and rugged construction, the 74 can handle abuse that would destroy ordinary consumer market notebooks. Yet, unlike many rugged devices, it is technologically up-to-date. Pana's business-rugged machine was originally powered by a 2.0GHz Intel Core Duo T2500 processor that provided significantly more speed than its predecessor. Better yet, the battery was more than doubled in capacity, to the extent where the 74 will give you almost eight hours of run time between charges. You can also boost memory all the way to 4GB.

When Intel released their Centrino 2 processor technology in mid-2008, Panasonic upgraded the Toughbook 74 to a 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo P8600 processor, upped standard memory to 1GB, doubled the original disk size from 80 to 160GB, enhanced video and graphics capabilities, replaced the various optical drive options with a dual layer DVD Super MULTI drive, and spiffed up some other odds and ends.

With security becoming ever more important, Panasonic offers optional SmartCard readers and Fingerprint Scanners, and there is the Trusted Platform Module security chip. The media bay is still there, accommodating everything from a floppy drive to a second battery, a second disk, or a combo DVD multi drive. There are numerous internal wireless options, including EVDO (Sprint and Verizon certified) and HSDPA. The Toughbook 74 is a little heavier than the model it replaces, but not by much. It remains a thoroughly modern notebook for those who do not need a tank like the Toughbook 30, but want something that is much tougher than standard notebooks.

Specifications
Added/changed 06/2006, 09/2008
Processor Intel Core 2 Duo Processor P8600
CPU Speed 2.4 GHz
Standard/Max RAM 1024-4096MB DDR2
Disk/drive 160GB HD shock-mounted
Media Bay DVD Super MULTI drive with dual layer support
Card slots 1 Type II PC Card, 1 SD Card, 1 Express Card/54; smartCard optional
Display type Outdoor-readable transmissive TFT
Display size/res Daylight-readable (460 Nit) 13.3"/1024 x 768 XGA
Digitizer/pens touchscreen
Keyboard/scale integrated 87-key, 100%-scale
Housing Magnesium alloy
Operating Temp semi-rugged
Sealing semi-rugged
Shock semi-rugged
Size (WxHxD) 12.0 x 11.6 x 1.7-2.4
Weight 5.95 pounds
Power 87 WHr Li-Ion ("approx. 8 hours")
Interface RS232, 2 USB 2.0, RJ45 (gigabit), fingerprint scanner (opt.)
Interface Audio in/out, video, RJ11
Wireless 802.11a/b/g/draft-n; EVDO, HSDPA, Bluetooth v2.0 + EDR (Class 1)
List price Starting at US$2,999
Contact www.panasonic.com
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