At TechTough we frequently get asked by friends and customers, should I buy the fully rugged Panasonic Toughbook CF-19 / CF-31? Frankly, they are not for everyone.
IS A RUGGED PANASONIC TOUGHBOOK CF-19 / CF-31 right for you?
What exactly are you going to do with the unit? What applications will you run and what kind of environment will you be in? If you intend to use the Toughbook CF-19 or CF-31 outside, in a harsh environment, in a vehicle or a marine setting, then I STRONGLY recommend the fully RUGGED Toughbook CF19 or CF-31 because they were designed to withstand extreme heat, cold, moisture and the outdoor elements.
The vibrations of being used in a moving vehicle can eventually destroy most "made in China" consumer laptops. (Toughbooks are one of the few products made in Japan) Which is a big reason most police cars in Canada and USA use the Rugged line of Panasonic Toughbooks. When lives are on the line, a reliable laptop is paramount.
Video of a snowmobile pulling a Toughbook CF-19 behind it
If you are going to keep the Toughbook mostly indoors and occasionally outside, then frankly you might want to consider the lighter and semi-rugged versions: Toughbook CF-53 and CF-54 models. Because they are lighter in weight and on your pocketbook as well.
WILL IT FIT IN AN ENVELOPE?
2) Is weight and thickness important to you? The CF-19 is about 5 lbs and CF-31 is about 8lbs and both are about 2 inches thick. So this is not your typical "iToy" and will not fit in an envelope... thin and rugged rarely go together in the world of laptops. Although the new CF-33 is pretty sleek, if your budget can handle it at over $3,000.
The semi-rugged Panasonic CF-53 and CF-54 are 4-5.5lbs and a little over 1" thick. So if thickness and weight are important you might to look those models.
Which TOUGHOOK is best for your needs and budget?
BUSINESS RUGGED, SEMI-RUGGED OR FULLY RUGGED?
FULLY RUGGED TOUGHBOOKS: These include the CF-19, CF-30 and CF-31. They have actually been known to survive a car driving over them! NOTE: They are not meant to be abused at this level but it shows how TOUGH they really are!
or check out this Toughbook being dragged behind an ATV!
SEMI-RUGGED TOUGHBOOKS: These include the CF-52, CF-53 and CF-54. They have been ruggedized, have a magnesium case, spill proof keyboards and covers over the ports to protect them from the elements. They are perfect for occasional work outdoors but not meant to deal with the same abuse as the FULLY RUGGED models
BUSINESS-RUGGED TOUGHBOOKS: These include all the other Toughbook models like the CF-H2, CF-U1, CF-C2 and so on.... If you need more of a light thin consumer model without the rugged benefits, you can find these refurbished or used on eBay very inexpensively and still have the benefit of the reliable Panasonic name.
I hope this helps guide you as to which Panasonic Toughbook might be best for you.