Panasonic's modular Toughbook 55 lets you swap out seemingly everything

You can customize the laptop to fit your exact needs.

Panasonic is upping the ante on customization for its Toughbook laptops. The tech firm's new Toughbook 55 touts a highly modular design that lets you add or replace many of the rugged system's components. Add-on packs let you add more ports, dedicated graphics, a fingerprint reader and a second storage drive, while all drives are quick-release to help with upgrades or fixes. You can replace the RAM, as you might expect, but you can even replace the keyboard -- unlike some laptops, you won't have to visit a technician if your input goes haywire.

That modularity assists with running time, too. You can hot-swap a second battery without shutting off the computer, giving you up to 40 hours of battery life. This might be ideal for field workers who don't know when they'll be near a power outlet.

This is also a much-needed modernization of Toughbook hardware. While the 8th-generation Core i5 and i7 chips aren't cutting-edge, this is the first laptop in the range with USB-C, HDMI 2.0 and Bluetooth 5.0. It's also the first laptop in the category with a four-mic array to help with voice recognition. You can also expect a very bright 1,000-nit touchscreen, up to 64GB of RAM and a maximum 2TB of storage. Not surprisingly, wireless data is important between access to worldwide P.180 data service and AT&T's FirstNet platform for emergency responders.

The Toughbook 55 is available now for a starting price of $2,099, although module prices hadn't been mentioned as we wrote this. That's not a trivial price for a PC with slightly behind-the-times performance, but that's not really the focus here. This is more about ensuring that engineers and other staff will always have a system that meets their needs, even in extreme situations.