Whereas the ToughBook CF-51
that I looked at back in September was a semi-rugged notebook, the CF-29 is the real deal, the full Monty, a hard nut in every sense of the word. In fact if you took the CF-29 along with you to an England football match, it would probably open up its lid and start chanting "Come and have a go if you think you're hard enough" before you'd made it through the first five minutes of the game, it really is that sure of itself. Yes, this is Panasonic's top of the range ToughBook and you'd be hard pushed to find a tougher bit of technology outside the military. In fact, the military is just one of many customers that Panasonic sells this baby to.
Obviously the main design brief for the CF-51 was durability, but I've got to say that it also looks fantastic. In fact it's these "movie star looks" that have made the ToughBook range regulars when it comes to product placements in films. But unlike most stylish notebooks that can often rate form over function, the way the CF-51 looks is just an added bonus for anyone that needs - and I stress the word needs - a notebook that can survive pretty much anything. Surprisingly the CF-29 only weighs 3.6kg, which is about the weight of a standard desktop replacement.
As I mentioned in my CF-51 review, if you happen to see any BT engineers working out in the field, you'll more than likely see them tapping away at a ToughBook - this ToughBook in fact. And if you happen to be a member of the AA, you can be sure that your friedly breakdown engineer will have a CF-29 in his van. These machines are built for one thing and one thing only - to operate in the most hostile environments.
So, what is it that makes the CF-29 so tough? Well to start with the entire shell of this machine is constructed from magnesium alloy, making it shock proof, knock proof and downright clumsy idiot proof. The hard drive is encased in foam cladding and secured inside an aluminium frame for ultimate shock resistance. The result is that that CF-29 can be dropped from a height of 90cm and remain intact. To test this claim I took the CF-29 out into the TrustedReviews car park and proceded to drop it, repeatedly from different angles. The only concession I made was to lay a piece of old (and very thin) carpet on the ground to save it from undue scratches - after all, I had to send it back to Panasonic at some point!
[i]To see how the notebook fared after its gruelling ordeal, jump straight over to page 2 of this review at TrustedReviews.