Updated: Aug 19, 2021
Written by Soon Kai Hong
In our modern society today, there are many different types of laptop that you can get. You can have thin and light ultrabooks, hybrid devices like 2-in-1s, or gaming laptops with great performance.
Now all those? They are all consumer laptops, which your average joe can go online and buy.
But there’s also a segment of laptops meant for business users, which in general, will offer things such as a higher version of Windows 10, and built-in security features like additional administrative control or enhanced network security control.
Today, we’re diving even deeper into just one portion of that segment, and taking a look at the Panasonic Toughbook 55, a rugged business laptop that can be summed up in just four words.
Ultimate Protection and Modularity.
Now to be clear, this is not meant for consumers so you won’t be going out to purchase one, and I don’t think you would anyways. And even for businesses, it’s targeted for the rugged sector. In short, it’s really niche.
So the first thing you might ask, where would you see one then? I would say you might chance upon one in a construction site, a military outpost, or perhaps more commonly in a police cruiser.
To cater to the rigours of those professions, it’s designed to withstand all sorts of external factors and it is Military Standard 810G certified.
This means it can work in temperatures as low as -20 degrees celsius, and as high as 60 degrees celsius. It can also withstand multiple drops of up to 90 centimetres, and still be working fine, and it is also IP53 certified, which means you don’t need to worry about the accidental spill.
This thing is built to last, and its design aesthetics is also kind of like an armoured vehicle.
Performance-wise, you actually get a few options, choosing between an 8th-gen Intel Core i5 or i7 vPro processors, which is part of their business line of CPUs, support for up to 64GB of RAM and 1TB of internal SSD storage.
The specs aren’t all that amazing, but it can handle everyday tasks just fine, and that’s basically what it’s designed to do.
For the display, you get a choice between a 1,366 by 768 panel, or a 1080p panel, both of which are 14-inches, along with the option to support touch. There’s even a stylus as well, should you want to use that.
One cool thing about the display is the software options that come along with this laptop. You can actually configure the laptop to use the ambient sensors for automatic adjustments and such, but you can also go full manual and choose to change the display to show just red, green, blue, or even grayscale, which can be useful depending on your environment.
There’s also a privacy mode, which reduces the brightness of the screen to a really low level, like less than one percent, which can be useful to reduce night blindness while driving around in a police interceptor.
On the flip side, when it’s bright out, the display can also pump out a maximum of 1000 nits, so it’s basically usable anywhere, any time of the day.
But here’s the most unique thing about the Toughbook 55, it’s a modular laptop unlike any other.
Located on the sides are two hot-swappable bays. By default, it comes with one battery and a dummy in the other, but you can just simply unlatch it, and replace it with any of the expansion packs which Panasonic offers.
Require a fingerprint reader? Slide it in, and off you go. Your business requires a smart card reader instead, easy. Or say you need an RFID reader? Same thing.
But my favourite would be inserting in another battery, for double the battery life, to which Panasonic claims up to 40 hours of operation with two batteries. With this design, you can also hot-swap the battery, which allows you to use the laptop however long you need, as long as you have spare batteries on hand.
It’s actually pretty cool, and it’s definitely not something you would find in a consumer laptop, though with two batteries, it does get pretty heavy.
But that’s not all, there’s another bay which accepts a variety of expansion packs such as a DVD Drive, a Blu-Ray Drive, additional SSD storage or even a dedicated GPU in the flavour of an AMD Radeon Pro WX4150.
Granted, the Radeon Pro WX4150 is not a powerhouse of a GPU, offering similar performance to a desktop RX460, but it does offer some GPU acceleration for programs which can make use of it, and is definitely faster than onboard graphics.
But that’s not all.
Even the ports are modular, and can all be swapped out. If you need HDMI and USB, you can have it, or if you require VGA or Serial for connectivity to older equipment, you can have those as well.
Changing the ports aren’t as easy as the bays, but even so, all it takes is just a few screws and you can easily swap it. It’s that simple.
Lastly, it comes with a built-in carrying handle, so you can just lug it around as it is. I have to admit, it was kind of nostalgic doing so, seeing that this was the kind of design for a laptop that I saw people lugging around in the past. It just feels cool, and I like that.
To sum it all up, this is a rugged business laptop that’s meant for people who really need a machine that’ll just work, and safely store all their data, no matter the work environment, and can be configured to suit their specific needs.
If you’re looking for a full review of this laptop, I suggest taking a look elsewhere on the web or on YouTube. Personally, I thought it was interesting to take a look at, and I just wanted to share my experience with you all.
More information about the Panasonic Toughbook 55 can be found on Panasonic’s website.