For many resellers, the problem with rolling out notebooks for use in the field is that they inevitably end up back for repairs.
Panasonic has just released its new range of ruggedised notebooks designed specifically for high-level use in both indoor and outdoor conditions.
Panasonic brought its Toughbook range to the Australian market last year, but the launch was somewhat clouded by Sony's entry into notebooks with its VAIO range.
Panasonic's business manager for multimedia solutions systems product division, Craig Hutchinson, is keen to point out Panasonic is operating in a very different market - one where the reseller can play a key role in the identification and integration of the technology with clients.
"We are pitching this at the field operator market, where ruggedisation is the key factor," he said.
"Notebooks are generally made for the very controlled environment of work or home, but field users need to use them everywhere."
The new range includes three models: the top-of-the-range Toughbook 28 which is fully ruggedised (a term Panasonic has coined to describe the sturdiness of the notebooks), the Toughbook 72 for business applications and the semi-ruggardised Toughbook 37 for sales representatives.
"We have focused specifically on the ruggedised notebook market because it is a niche market," Hutchinson said. Indeed, the notebooks have already proved successful for use in the field by electricity utility North Power and juice company Berri. The notebooks have also been used for innovative applications such as that employed by Precision Farming - a company two hours out of Perth that has incorporated the notebooks and their wireless functionality with software and a GPS navigation system that maps the field, allowing tractors to operate on auto-pilot.
"[Precision Farming] is one of our resellers," Hutchinson said. "Everyone talks about value-added reselling, but I think this is the ultimate example."
Transreflective screen - for use in bright sunlight as well as indoors.
Touchscreen technology - for easy use in the field.
Pricing - $7399 for Toughbook 37, $7999 for Toughbook 72, $9800 for Toughbook 28.
Target Industries - on-the-road businesses such as pharmaceuticals, food or utilities.