So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
Panasonic Toughbook CF-W5
- Notebook design, battery life, optical drive off switch, weight
- Scroll wheel on the touchpad, cramped keyboard
Although the Panasonic Toughbook CF-W5 is not the most stylish or powerful machine, it does offer some good battery life and should take a few knocks without any trouble. However, for the premium price it is short on ports and other features, a disappointment despite the advantages of its rugged design.
Price$ 3,599.00 (AUD)
The toughest of the tough, Panasonic's Toughbook CF-W5 is one of the only notebooks where its ability to withstand torture takes precedent over power and style.
Geared for people always on the go, the Toughbook CF-W5, unlike some other Toughbooks in the range, is less of a test dummy than a toughened business notebook. It offers good battery life in a small, lightweight (1.2kg) magnesium alloy chassis that's built to handle a few knocks. Despite its size the CF-W5 doesn't entirely skimp on features, managing to squeeze an internal DVD re-writer and an SD card reader into the minimalist notebook design and also includes some basic connectivity such as a VGA output and PC card slot.
Inside this little nugget is 1GB of DDR2 RAM and one of Intel's slightly older Core Duo U2400 1.06GHz CPUs, a low-end processor designed for less heat, reasonable battery-life, but slower performance. With these components we did not expect phenomenal results from our tests, but the Toughbook CF-W5 still achieved a reasonable score. There is only a 60GB hard drive in this model, so don't plan on storing all your movies, photos, MP3s and documents here along with any applications you plan to install.
In WorldBench 6 it achieved a total score of 43, well below the mark for power users, but still enough to do word processing tasks, surf the Web and check e-mails. In iTunes it took 179 seconds to convert 53 minutes worth of WAV files to 192Kbps MP3 files, while in Cdex it took 269 seconds. Neither of these results suggests the Toughbook CF-W5 is capable of any taxing workloads like heavy photo editing or CAD.
The battery test result was far more impressive, with the CF-W5 lasting 154 minutes in our DVD rundown battery test. This test is a worst-case scenario test, as it utilises the system's speakers, screen and optical drive among the other core components of the notebook. We expect the CF-W5 should last longer under normal workloads. The DVD drive can also be turned off with a hard switch on the chassis, which should help extend battery life even further.
The screen is a small 12.1in number with a native resolution of 1024x768. The brightness and contrast levels are good, but the viewing angle is quite poor in both the vertical and horizontal positions. We also found that the smaller and slightly squished keys were tricky to type on comfortably.
The touchpad is a circle, unlike most notebooks that use a square, but is fairly comfortable to use. What it does lack is a scroll bar, making it more difficult to navigate long pages quickly.
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