Panasonic's new Toughbook looks a lot like its old Toughbook. That is to say, it's bulky, is rated for MIL-STD-810G tests including drops up to 30 inches on its sides or 12 inches on the corners, and has a magnesium-alloy case, a shock-mounted hard drive, and spill-resistant keyboard.
The differences, however, are many: the new Toughbook 53 has lost over a pound of weight, dropping to a reasonable 5.6 pounds and downsizing its screen from 15.6 inches to 14 inches. The track pad has gotten larger, and added multitouch. 4G LTE service is now offered--a first for Toughbooks--as an alternative to still-available Gobi2000 3G broadband. The Toughbook 53 now comes with a choice of second-gen Intel Core i3-2310M or Core i5-2520M CPUs, increased hard-drive capacities, and an optional touch screen with CircuLumin technology, which offers a wide range of brightnesses from 2-800 nits as well as antiglare and polarizing for viewing in bright daylight. There are a few new ports as well, including an SDXC card slot, HDMI, and USB 3.0, catching up to the current standards in consumer laptops.
The prices aren't as expensive as you'd think: the Core i5 Toughbook 53 starts at $1,899, and ships in June. A Core i3 model, available in August, will cost $1,599. The touchscreen Core i5 will cost quite a bit more, at $2,499.
We can't say we'd personally consider buying one, but there are plenty of contractors and government workers who will. Are you one of them?