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Panasonic Toughbook W5

Tech update for Pana's semi-rugged ultra-light with optical drive
(by Conrad H. Blickenstorfer)

The W5 is part of Panasonic's "semi-rugged" lineup; what this really means is that it's largely made of magnesium and benefits from the company's expertise in building longer-lasting computers that can take more abuse. However, don't drop it off a cliff or leave it in the rain. As long as you keep that in mind, the W Series ranks as one of the very best compact notebook solutions anywhere.

The W5 replaces the already awesome Toughbook W4: it's a semi-rugged notebook for those who like the T-Series style, but just can't live without an optical drive. Interestingly, the relationship between the T and W series has changed a bit. Whereas before it was simply a matter of deciding between smallest size and weight (T2) and a machine almost as light (W2), the two lines are now more differentiated. The new T5 has a massive battery with huge battery life and a touch screen whereas the W5 remains close to its W4 predecessor. Whereas before it was hard to pick the T2/T4 over the W2/W4, the T5 is no a much stronger option. Still, for those who need an optical drive, the W5 is very attractive. Its footprint is identical to that of the T-Series, and despite the built-in DVD-CDRW drive it's barely thicker. And due to its smaller battery it actually weighs less.

What's the difference between the Toughbook W5 and the still offered W4? They look virtually identical but there are a number of technology upgrades. The Intel ULV 753 processor has been replaced by a 1.2GHz Core Solo U1400, memory is now of the PC2-4200 variety and can be upgraded to 1.5GB, and the marginally more powerful battery battery (61 vs 58 watt-hours) is now good for over eight hours between charges. Apparently the Core Solo chip is very miserly. Like the W4, the W5 only has 10/100 LAN, not gigabit, but the much appreciated SD Card slot is back.

Added/updated Added 02/2007: replaces W4
Processor Intel Core Solo U1400
CPU Speed 1.2 GHz
Standard/Max RAM 512MB/15364MB (PC4200)
Disk/drive Shock-mounted 60GB HD + DVD-CDRW
Card slots 1 PC Card Type II + 1 SD
Display type Transmissive anti-glare TFT
Display size/res 12.1" XGA, Intel 945GMS video 128MB
Digitizer/pens none
Keyboard/scale integrated 85-key, 100%-scale
Housing magnesium
Operating Temp semi-rugged
Sealing semi-rugged
Shock semi-rugged
Size (WxHxD) 10.6 x 8.3 x 1.2-1.8
Weight 3.1 lbs.
Power 61 Watt-Hour Li-Ion ("8 hrs.")
Interface 2 USB 2.0, RJ11, RJ45
Interface Audio, VGA, 802/11a/b/g; EVDO and HSPDA optional
List price seen at US$2,050 to 2,300
Contact www.panasonic.com
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