Editor’s note: Computers like the one reviewed here should be of increasing interest to wind techs in their rough and tumble world of turbine maintenance.
Conrad H. Blickenstorfer / Computer reviewer
Panasonic has recently introduced a variety of feature and performance upgrades to its Toughbook 20, a 2-in-1 device that Panasonic called the world’s first fully rugged detachable laptop when it was first launched in November 2015. The Toughbook 20 is, depending on how you look at it, a tablet that snaps onto an exceptionally well-integrated keyboard, or a laptop where the display comes off and can be used as a tablet. And now it can be had with a newer and more powerful processor and ancillary technologies, as well as more standard features.
What is the Toughbook 20 2-in-1 detachable?
When the Toughbook 20 was first introduced, it was quite a departure from the venerable Toughbook 19 with its rotating display that could be folded down flat onto the keyboard, LCD facing up, so that it could be used as a tablet. That worked well enough but made for a hefty 5-pound tablet that was two-inches thick — not exactly handy. The Toughbook 20, on the other hand, offers the display as a detachable tablet that weighs just 2.1 pounds and is only 0.8 inches thick. That makes it much more pleasant to use.
This approach makes great sense. It is not a totally new idea (back in 1994 Compaq offered the Concerto detachable laptop), but it took modern technology to make it feasible. That’s because in a notebook the system board and most of the electronics are in the keyboard case, whereas in a tablet everything must be in the display part. In the past, this meant a thick, heavy tablet with a lightweight keyboard that did not offer the stability users expected from a laptop. Today, fanless design and miniaturized components make thin, lightweight tablets a reality. That means it’s possible to package the tablet with a sturdy, rugged keyboard (it weighs 1.8 pounds by itself) and use the combo as a real, solid laptop that’s no longer top-heavy.
This design approach does relinquish the cool rotating hinge that made it easy to discuss something with a customer or colleague by simply turning the screen. But the new approach still allows flipping the display for presentations and similar.
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