Panasonic’s Toughbook gets tougher

Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd. has added two new models to its Toughbook family, its popular durable notebook PC for corporate use. The new Toughbook machines are lighter, smaller and have brighter screens, the company announced Wednesday.

The CF-M34JA8S, which runs the Windows 98 operating system, and the CF-M34JA2S, running Windows 2000, are designed to be used under rough working conditions. Like the other Toughbook models, display and keyboard parts are resistant to water drops and dust, and they can survive being dropped from heights of up to 90 centimetres, according to a statement from Matsushita, better known by its Panasonic brand name.

The CF-M34 models measure 229 millimetres by 188 millimetres by 43 millimetres and weigh 1.8 kilograms. This makes them slightly smaller than the previous CF28 model and about half the weight.

They also feature a brighter colour TFT (thin film transistor) LCD (liquid crystal display) of 8.4 inches (21 centimetres) size and SVGA (800 by 600 pixel) resolution with an anti-reflection coating that allows for use under direct sunlight, the company said. The display also features a touch panel.

The CF-M34 models have a Pentium III M-700MHz processor, 20G-byte hard disk drive and an IEEE 802.11b module for wireless LAN connectivity. The battery lasts for 4.6 hours with the CF-M34JA8S and 6 hours with the CF-M34JA2S.

Matsushita will roll out the products on Feb. 14 in Japan and around the same time in Europe, however, the launch date for North America has not been decided, said Akira Kadota, a Matsushita spokesman. The suggested retail price is around