New Toughbook 31: Perfect for multitasking in a sandstorm

Panasonic's latest Toughbook iteration adds Intel Core i3 and i5 processors and optional ATI HD graphics to go with its extreme armored casing.

Feel like dropping your laptop 6 feet? Here's your machine. Panasonic

If you're in the military or working in rough field conditions and need a computer upgrade, you're in luck: Panasonic has just announced the upgraded Toughbook 31, a new successor to its most-rugged Toughbook line.

With a weight and thickness that would be unappealing to anyone but those who need serious environmental armor, the Toughbook 31 comes with either an Intel Core i3 or i5 processor, optional ATI HD 5630 graphics, and up to a claimed 11 hours of battery life.

A 13.3-inch LED-backlit touch-screen display has CircuLumin technology that Panasonic says will enable viewing of the screen at wide angles and at low screen brightness, both in bright sun and in complete darkness for use with night-vision goggles. The Toughbook 31's IP65 rating means it's maximally protected from dust, and will withstand water spray or even hosed-on water ("provided it isn't a pressurized spray," according to Panasonic).

Bluetooth and 802.11n Wi-Fi are included in all models, with WiMax and Gobi2000 mobile broadband optional.

In case you're curious about the rest of the specs: the unit weighs 7.9 to 8.2 pounds, is shock-protected for up to 6-foot drops, has a shock-mounted quick-release hard drive, comes preinstalled with 2GB of RAM that can be upgraded to 8GB, and comes with Windows 7, with an option to downgrade to XP. Other optional features include GPS, a backlit keyboard, fingerprint reader, and a Webcam.

In a demo at the USS Intrepid, NYPD CIO Jim Onalfo threw a Toughbook 31 onto the steel floor, and it booted up afterward. A video following that showed the Toughbook being dropped 20 feet off the Intrepid's deck--and, again, it started up and stayed intact.

The lowest-end model, with a 2.26GHz Core i3-350M processor and a 160GB hard drive, will run a steep $3,799--but it also includes a three-year warranty, and could be the first laptop you'd be comfortable dropping off your own aircraft carrier.

 

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