When Panasonic unveiled the Toughbook H1 tablet last year, it at least got the tough part down pat. This Windows 7 slate had a magnesium alloy chassis and met the military's MIL-STD-810G standards for shock, dust, heat, water, and cold resistance -- comforting claims for construction workers, soldiers, and pretty much anyone used to working in the wild (or, at least, standing up). The problem was, it ran on a dinky Atom processor, and left the rugged types using it with just one miniature port for attaching peripherals. Clearly, Panny agreed those were some serious shortcomings, because the brand new H2 goes a wee bit beyond mere spec bumps. The latest generation leaps forward to a 1.7GHz Core i5-2557M ULV processor with Intel's vPro technology, along with USB 2.0 and serial sockets, and space for either a second USB port or an Ethernet jack. At the entry-level (!) price of $3,449, you'll get a 10-inch (XGA), 6,000-nit display, 4GB of RAM, a removable 320GBGB 7200RPM shock-mounted hard drive, WiFi and Bluetooth 2.1 radios, and twin swappable batteries that promise up to six and a half hours of runtime. After that, the list of possible add-ons runs long for corporations and government agencies with deep pockets. These include up to 8GB of memory, a 128GB SSD, Gobi 3G or 4G radio (the latter's coming in the fall), GPS, barcode or RFID reader, 2 megapixel camera, an insertable or contact-less SmartCard reader, or a fingerprint sensor. Good thing the boss is treating, huh?

Update : Lots of you are asking about the weight. Here's your answer, folks: it's 3.5 pounds, compared with 3.4 pounds for the last-gen H1.

Panasonic Toughbook H2

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PANASONIC INTRODUCES TOUGHBOOK® H2 – FASTER, MORE VERSATILE RUGGED HANDHELD TABLET COMPUTER

Next-generation device offers enhanced performance, capacity and outdoor viewability for mission-critical professionals


Secaucus, NJ, July 12, 2011 – Panasonic Solutions Company, provider of collaboration, information-sharing and decision-support solutions for government and commercial enterprises, today announced the Toughbook H2, a fully-rugged, ergonomic Windows® tablet PC. The device's handheld design offers the right mix of mobility, performance and connectivity for field service workers, first responders, clinicians and other mission-critical professionals. This next-generation tablet includes an enhanced processor, increased RAM and hard drive capacity, I/O ports and a screen that delivers exceptional viewability in all lighting conditions through the use of Panasonic's TransflectivePlus technology.

The Toughbook H2 is powered by an Intel® Core™ i5-2557M vPro™ processor (1.7GHz with Turbo Boost up to 2.7GHz) for faster speeds and enhanced device management. The device also comes standard with 4GB RAM, expandable to 8GB, and a 320GB 7200rpm hard disk drive, with an optional 128GB solid state drive available.

Starting at only 3.5 pounds, the H2 delivers 6.5 hours of battery life and includes fast charging twin hot-swappable batteries that allow for virtually limitless use, maximizing up time. Panasonic has also upgraded the desktop cradle to improve charge time to three hours.

"Panasonic is committed to providing our customers the ultimate in performance, mobility and connectivity," said Kyp Walls, director of product management, Panasonic Solutions Company. "The Toughbook H2's enhancements are designed to provide mission-critical workers with additional functionality and computing capabilities. The H2 maintains the same level of durability as the previous models and continues the H1's industry-leading reliability of less than one percent annualized failure rate."

Designed for the Truly Mobile Worker
The Panasonic Toughbook H2 includes a 10.1" dual touch display that offers both digitizer and touchscreen functionality. The display also features Panasonic's TransflectivePlus display technology, which can generate up to 6000 nit of transflective brightness, in addition to a circular polarizer, plus anti-glare and anti-reflective screen treatments, making it easily viewable in direct sunlight.

The Toughbook H2 offers exceptional ergonomics, including a molded hand strap, which allows workers to comfortably stand or carry the device for an entire shift. As a fully-rugged device, the Toughbook H2 is MIL-STD-810G tested – with a six foot drop rating. It is designed to be operational in extreme weather conditions and is engineered and certified for vehicle use.

Toughbook H2 in Healthcare
For healthcare environments, the Toughbook H2 has been designed for easy disinfection, and does not require a fan, reducing the risk of potentially pathogenic microorganisms being spread from patient to patient. The device is a secure and intuitive platform for barcode medication administration (BCMA), vitals capture and electronic medical records (EMR) capture and review. To further aid in disinfection, a Panasonic-designed software utility can be programmed to remind users to wipe the unit down at defined intervals. The utility automatically records a successful cleaning for the hospital's permanent records.

Embedded Wireless Connectivity
The Toughbook H2 offers a variety of embedded wireless technologies, including Wi-Fi, Bluetooth® and optional Gobi2000™ 3G mobile broadband technology from Qualcomm. The device is certified on the Sprint and Verizon Wireless 3G networks – with others to be announced later in the year – allowing workers to stay connected virtually all of the time. With certifications coming later this year, the Toughbook H2 will also offer embedded support for 4G networks.

Integrated Features to Maximize Productivity

The Toughbook H2 includes optional integrated features like barcode and RFID readers, camera and GPS receiver to enhance worker productivity and minimize the number of devices in the field. Additional accessories include carrying cases, shoulder straps, power adapters, charging cradles and a Toughbook-certified vehicle dock.

The Toughbook H2 includes multiple security features, including options for a fingerprint reader, contactless or insertable SmartCard reader for government common access cards (CACs), helping to ensure that critical data is kept secure.

Panasonic Toughbook H2: Select Features and Specifications
Genuine Windows 7® (32-bit or 64-bit)
Intel® Core™ i5-2557M vPro™ processor (1.7GHz)
4-8GB RAM
320GB (7200rpm) shock-mounted HHD or optional 128GB SSD
10.1" XGA sunlight-viewable dual touch LCD
TransflectivePlus technology (up to 6000 nit)
Circular polarizer with anti-glare and anti-reflective screen treatments
6.5 hour battery life
Twin hot-swappable batteries
3.5 lbs (with both batteries)
10.8" (L) x 10.6" (W) x 2.3" (H)
Fully-Rugged
MIL-STD-810G certified (6 foot drop)1
Magnesium alloy chassis – encased in polycarbonate
Sealed all-weather design
Embedded Connectivity
Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n
Bluetooth® v2.1 + EDR (Class 1)
Optional 4G mobile broadband (Fall 2011)
Optional Gobi™2000 3G mobile broadband
Integrated Options
Global positioning system (GPS) receiver
Barcode reader
2MP auto-focus camera with LED light
RFID reader
Interfaces
True serial
USB (optional 2nd USB port – replaces ethernet)
Ethernet
Optional Security Features
Fingerprint reader
Contactless SmartCard reader
Insertable SmartCard reader – configurable for Common Access Card (CAC) use

Pricing and Availability
The Panasonic Toughbook H2 will be available worldwide in July 2011. In the United States, the base Toughbook H2 model is expected to be available at an estimated street price of $3,449 from authorized Panasonic resellers and distributors.

The Toughbook H2 is backed with a three-year limited warranty.

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Panasonic intros rugged Toughbook H2 tablet, steps up to Core i5 and full-sized ports