Industrial giant Panasonic this week unveiled its answer to an apparent gap in the notebook market: the Toughbook.
Able to withstand falls from around a metre and resist dust, coffee and water, Panasonic believes the new machine will find a niche on building sites, and with mobile sales people and public service organisations such as law enforcement, telecommunications and utilities services.
And the good news for the channel is the company's commitment to selling 100 per cent of its products through soon-to-be-appointed VARs around the country. Tecksell has been appointed as authorised distributor of the product range.
The three models, the Toughbook 27, 71 and 34, are designed to cater for three distinct markets. The Toughbook 27 is designed for "ultra-rugged" operators such as the police and fire patrols, the 34 is a sub-notebook specifically for field operators, and the 71 is for mobile executives.
The key to the Toughbooks' claim to toughness is the use of magnesium alloy casing, a hard disk drive with stainless steel casing, and damper gel to reduce shock. The LCD screen is also resistant to vibration, shock and water, with a rubber seal fixed around the screen's edges for protection.
With the sub-notebook Toughbook 34 at the lower end of the scale at $6995, the machines are not cheap, but according to Panasonic they will offer "very healthy margins" for VARs.