Panasonic has a pedigree of ruggedised electronics – their Toughbook laptops are the stuff of remote mining site lore. Branko Miletic reviews the latest addition to this range, the Panasonic FZ-G1 Toughpad Tablet and finds that tough is as tough does, albeit with a few sensitivity issues.
The Panasonic FZ-G1 Toughpad Tablet comes from the same stable as all of Panasonic's toughened computing range. In fact, to prove (or disprove) this, I pulled out the heavy artillery: A 10-year old who thinks computers are to be trodden on, a small dog that like to chew on everything within snout's reach and a backyard filled with strategically-positioned really big rocks.
The first part of the test – and in fact the main part if you consider what the FZ-G1 Toughpad Tablet was designed for – was to see just how tough this piece of hardware actually was.
So after two weeks of abusing the tablet with everything that gravity could muster, I followed up this testing with some more 'hard surface impact experiments' as I called them.
Even exposure to water and mud does not seem to bother this tablet – which is more than can be said for some of its competitors.
In other words, the FZ-G1 Toughpad Tablet was thrown from a 1+metre height onto hard surfaces over and over again. Thanks to its magnesium alloy chassis encased with ABS and elastomer corner guards, raised bezel for LCD impact protection, MIL-STD-810G specs and all-weather IP65 dust and water-resistant design, the result though was as expected and it passed with flying colours.
The 10.1" Toughpad FZ-G1 Windows 8 Pro tablet runs Windows 8 Pro 64-bit. Powered by a Gen 3 1.9 GHz Intel Core i5 v Pro Processor, the tablet also has an HD daylight-readable screen, 4 GB HD and boasts a USB 3.0, a USB 2.0 and10/100/1000 Ethernet ports.
From a user point of view, the near 8-hour battery life is ably complimented by the Panasonic Partition Recovery functionality on the HD which means it can be used for long periods of time and if a problem does a occur, it can be utlilised to reboot the entire system.
And it also has a stylus-type pen, which while I don't particularly like to use, was quite useful for quick clinking from screen to screen.
All up, the tablet is as functional as any common tablet running Windows 8 with all the features of a Windows-flavoured machine.
Starting up was fast and easy. Connection to my home Wi-Fi was as seamless as with any other device and navigating around the computer was as straightforward as any Windows device was meant to be.
Launching applications went smoothly and using the mobile device for both browsing and various other standard PC activities was almost instantaneous.
The ability to play music, videos and other multimedia comes standard with this tablet, while other options such as a GPS and microSD slot are available at extra cost.
For those that want to connect their Toughpad FZ-G1 to an AV device, [which was not tested] there is an HDMI port, integrated microphone and Realtek high-definition audio combined with a vanilla-style speaker.
Overall, the Toughpad FZ-G1 was everything a mobile tablet should be but encased in a strong magnesium alloy cocoon.
The only downside was the sensitivity of the screen, which was less than that on an iPad. However, the caveat here is that this is the trade-off for all that extra toughness. While it was a bit 'sticky' when it came to swiping, the function of Panasonic's Toughpad Tablet is not be sensitive to petite little fingers but rather to survive big physical shocks.
· Ease of use: 4/5
· Speed: 4/5
· Battery Life: 3/5
· Functionality: 4/5
· Overall Rating: 15/20