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.