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What is a Toughbook&Reg;?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 25 September 2016
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The Toughbook® is a brand of laptop produced by Matsushita Electric Industrial, a company based in Japan. Many fans of the Toughbook® are more familiar with the Panasonic brand name which the laptop is typically sold under. As the name implies, this laptop is designed for seriously hard use, and Toughbooks® can be seen in action in some of the most grueling and demanding environments in the world.

The design of the Toughbook® arose in response to a need for an extremely rugged, dependable laptop for use in situations where ordinary laptops might fail, such as desert environments, Arctic research facilities, police cars, field studies in biology, and military installations, among many others. The design places a heavy emphasis on rugged functionality and dependability, typically lacking the bells and whistles which come with laptops aimed at casual consumers.

Toughbooks® have been set on fire, frozen, dropped from immense heights, soaked in water, and even shot in the line of duty. These laptops are so famous for their durability that Panasonic actually maintains a database of Toughbook® stories, cataloging all of the ways in which the laptops have been abused by their owners. These laptops are used by the world's militaries in environments ranging from submarines to the deserts of the Middle East, and they are also used in police cars, emergency medical response vehicles, and fire trucks. Biologists, archaeologists, and others who rely on laptops for fieldwork also use Toughbooks®.

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As you might imagine, the decision to prioritize reliable performance in a variety of conditions has led to some sacrifices in the functionality of the Toughbook®. Some models are very slow, for example, and the laptops tend to be bulky and heavy as a result of their ruggedized exteriors. For functionality in the field, however, many have excellent sound and video cards for the purpose of recording data ranging from traffic stops to covert surveillance, and these laptops also have powerful integrated wireless cards.

Like many pieces of equipment originally designed for military use, the Toughbook® has attracted consumer attention. As a result, Matsushita manufactures a range of Toughbooks® aimed at more casual consumers. These laptops are semi-ruggedized, without all of the features which make their professional-level counterparts more expensive and more durable. Some of these models come with more advanced processors for faster performance, satisfying the desire to have a laptop with the famous Toughbook® branding without having to sacrifice functionality.

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