The advent of increasingly advanced technology used onboard boats, rigs and ships, and the computers and software designed to make them work, has resulted in the demand for a new breed of ruggedization. While rugged computer equipment has been used for years in many industries, including maritime, the very nature of the marine business demands performance above and beyond conditions found anywhere else on earth. Panasonic — in an attempt to answer the calls for rugged technological capability onboard boats, rigs and ships — offers its Toughbook series of portable computers, designed to meet most any technological need while beating the elements. Panasonic recently unveiled the newest version of its Toughbook ruggedized notebook PC, a unit that incorporates the Intel (INTC)
Pentium II 333MHz CPU. "By offering PII 333MHz speed, outdoor-viewable 13.1-in. active matrix color LCD with tough screen, and integrated wireless communications solutions, the new Toughbook 27 surpasses all other ruggedized notebook PCs in performance and features," said John Harris
, vice president of marketing for Panasonic Personal Computer Co.
Aside from its full ruggedization — a feature available through accrued Panasonic technological know how which allows the chip to be mounted internally in a manner which dissipates heat from key components — Panasonic's new DayBrite ARX LCD monitor, which incorporates sophisticated anti-reflective filter technology combined with a brilliant TFT color display, dramatically reduces light reflection while providing readability even in bright sunlight.
In addition, the unit uses a fully integrated, internally powered modem together with a compact HOT (High-Gain, Omni Directional, Telescopic) antenna, the wireless capabilities of the Toughbook 27 open new opportunities for computing. The Toughbook 27 offers: a housing in full magnesium alloy case; an LCD mounted in an anti-torsion, water-resistant magnesium frame; a removable shock-mounted HDD enclosed in a stainless steel case; and a water resistant keyboard and touch pad. In addition, the unit is designed using MIL-STD 810E test procedures for drop shock, vibration, dust and moisture. The unit, as described, is available for an estimated price of about $5,199. In addition to the Toughbook 27, Panasonic offers the: Toughbook 34, Toughbook 71; and Toughbook CF-37.
Panasonic is hardly a new name to electronics, but the name stamped upon ruggedized notebook personal computers may be new to some. A unit of Matsushita Electric, which has annual sales in the $70 billion range, Panasonic has manufactured notebooks for the past 16 years under a variety of brand names, Harris said. It was about six years ago that the company decided to attach the Panasonic name to the product and aggressively pursue the lucrative business to business market. Today notebook sales alone garner approximately $350 to $400 million per year for the company, with 30 percent of those sales going to the U.S. government. In fact, the company has approximately 7,000 to 8,000 units operating aboard ships owned by perhaps the marine industry's most discerning customer, the U.S. Navy.