There have been moderately rugged tablets and phones in the past, but Panasonic’s new Toughpad puts them to shame. This device is designed from the ground up to be as close to indestructible as a mobile device can get. It can survive drops, water, and even a biting arctic chill that would render most devices inoperable thanks to its built-in heater. The Toughpad has a 5-inch touchscreen, but the thick, heavy frame makes it feel more like a tablet than most 5-inch smartphones. It’s mostly a tablet, but there is an LTE variant with limited phone functionality, too. The screen can withstand the force of a 396-gram steel ball falling from a height of 80 centimeters, which is admittedly an odd standard. You can also drop it 1.5 meters onto concrete, and leave it in 1.5 meters of water for 30 minutes. There are two variants of the Toughpad, the FZ-X1 and FZ-E1. The E1 runs Windows 8.1 Embedded with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor. The X1 is an Android 4.2.2 device with an older Snapdragon 600, but it probably doesn’t need as much muscle as Windows. The FZ-E1 will start at US$1,849, while the FZ-X1 Android model will start at $1,799. Not exactly a mainstream device then.
Panasonic may not be as active in the smartphone rat race anymore, but it isn’t completely out of the rugged mobile device ring yet. It has just revealed the availability and pricing of two of its newest devices, the Windows Embedded-powered Toughpad FZ-E1 and the Android-powered Toughpad FZ-X1, both very rugged 5-inch tablets. Yes, you heard it right. Panasonic is billing these two as tablets. Just that they are quite smaller than the smallest tablet. And they sport voice, on some models, and data connectivity, Practically a smartphone, but Panasonic prefers to call them handheld tablets. As their model numbers might tell you, these two are both the same and yet different. As mentioned, one bears Windows’ almost unnoticed embedded operating system while the other runs a slightly older Android 4.2.2. The Windows FZ-E1 also has a faster processor, a 2.3 GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800, while the FZ-X1 is left with a 1.7 GHz quad-core Snapdragon 600. What makes these similar is in how tough they are, and in this matter Panasonic really knows what “tough” means, even if it has a rather strange definition of a “tablet”. Rugged smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy S5 or its Active sibling definitely have nothing on these two. Yes, Samsung’s smartphone might be waterproof, but the new Panasonic Toughpads boast of an even higher IP65 and IP68 rating, helping it survive under 5 feet of water for 30 minutes. It can also survive extreme temperatures of -4 °F to 140 °F (that’s -20 °C to 60 °C). And to really live up to its tough moniker, it reaches the US military’s MIL-STD810G certification, which means it will not die from a 10-foot drop.