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Panasonic Toughbook tablet is first rugged Android slate

You've just dropped your new tablet. Time slows as hundreds of quids-worth of consumer tech plunges to its floor-related doom. Unless it's a Pansonic Toughbook tablet, that is.

You've just dropped your new tablet. Time slows to a crawl and your body moves as if in treacle as you lunge in vain for several hundred quids-worth of consumer electronics, plunging inexorably to its floor-related doom. Unless it's a Pansonic Toughbook tablet, a new Android tablet designed to be sturdier than the average slate.

The Toughbook tablet just maybe the first rugged Android tablet. It's drop-proof and waterproof and all that carry-on. A 3G version will be available for connecting to the Internet while on the go.

One thing it doesn't have is a glossy screen, which means it can be used outdoors and you can see what's on the 10-inch display even in direct sunlight. It stores a stylus in the back to write on the screen, so it's possible it may be a resistive screen rather than the more finger-friendly capacitive type of display. The HTC Flyer uses a stylus though, and that's capacitive.

It's only recently that tablets have become a consumer phenomenon, with the launch of the iPad. But tablets have been in the workplace for a while as they're handy in industry for walking around factories and the like. Panasonic has plenty of practice with the industrial-strength Toughbook range of computers, and this tablet is still aimed at industry people doing industry things, like having meetings or inspecting valves or something.

You also see a lot of Toughbooks on telly, because their rugged styling is more visually interesting than most laptops -- when a script calls for sleek and futuristic it'll be an iMac, but when the script calls for vaguely industrial-looking and futuristic it'll be a Toughbook. They use them in The Wire too.

Oh, and dolphins use Toughbooks as well.

So we know Panasonic's rugged slab can take the knocks. It isn't out until the end of the year in the US, so no prices are available yet, but does this mean Panasonic's promised Android phones are just around the corner? Keep it CNET UK and we'll keep you posted.