Panasonic revealed two new ruggedized tablets today at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. The gadget maker, which has been offering toughened-up laptops since the 1990's, is betting that there is a market for tablets that can endure the rigors of construction sites, industrial facilities and other locales that are unkind to electronic devices.
Panasonic's Toughpad FZ-G1 is a 10-inch tablet that runs Windows 8 Pro. The company also unveiled the Toughpad JT-B1, a 7-inch Android tablet.
Both are part of Panasonic's goal "to achieve 50 percent market share in the ruggedized tablet space by 2015," according to Hide Harada, director of Panasonic's IT Products Business Unit.
The Toughpad FZ-G1 features an 10.1-inch sunlight viewable, digitizer compatible touchscreen with a resolution of 1920 x 1200 pixels. The Windows 8 tablet is powered by an Intel Core i5 processor (1.9GHz to 2.9GHz) and up to 8 GB of RAM. Capacity options include SSD storage of 128 GB to 256 GB, with optional micro-SDXC flash expansion.
Wireless connectivity options include 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. 4G LTE or 3G cellular connectivity are optional. The FZ-G1 features a full-sized USB 3.0, USB 2.0, Ethernet and HDMI ports. The slate measures 10.6 inches by 7.4 inches by 0.75 inches and weighs 2.43 lbs. Its user-replaceable battery is rated for up to 8 hours of use between charges.
While a ruggedized Windows tablet comes as no surprise -- Panasonic's Toughbook line has long been anchored by the Windows platform -- the addition of a 7-inch Android model signals that Panasonic believes the mini tablet craze is expanding well beyond the consumer space.
The Toughpad JT-B1, which joins the company's FZ-A1 in its Android line-up, is powered by Android 4.0, commonly referred to as Ice Cream Sandwich. Processing power comes from a dual-core, 1.5 GHz OMAP4460 chip from Texas Instruments.
The JT-B1's 7-inch touchscreen offers a resolution of 1024 x 600 pixels. Storage capacity is limited to 16 GB but can be expanded with micro-SDHC cards. Wireless options consists of 802.11n Wi-Fi, 4G LTE, 3G and Bluetooth.
Users can expect about 8 hours of battery life out of its user-replaceable power pack. The unit measures 8.7 inches by 5.1 inches by 0.7 inches and weighs 1.2 lbs.
While some businesses will undoubtedly welcome a tablet that can survive a few scrapes, it comes at a cost.
Panasonic's 10-inch Windows 8 Pro Toughpad FZ-G1 goes on sale in March. Prices start at $2,899. The 7-inch Android-powered Toughpad JT-B1 ships in February with a starting price tag of $1,199.
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