Last week, I was privy to the brand new 20" Toughpad from Panasonic. With a whopping 4K ultra high resolution display, the tablet will come as 'business rugged' (industry speak for only a tiny bit droppable) and runs on Windows 8.1.
At first glance, I was mightily impressed by the display. 4K is ridiculous quality, and before seeing the tablet I had concerns over whether such a high resolution is needed on a smaller device. However, after being shown some demos, I can confirm that it works perfectly and is one of the best viewing experiences of a tablet I've ever seen.
So where on earth is this behemoth 'ruggedised' tablet being aimed at? A demo program, some kind of make-up applier what-will-you-look-like-with-fake-tan tool answered my questions...
We're increasingly noticing these 'customer interactions points' on shop floors now. I saw one in M&S the other week, where a shopper can select their outfit from the tablet in front of them. This tablet would fit right in on any high-end store's shop floor, enabling the company to better sell products to the customer. Another program was some kind of high-brow Autotrader, where you can go through the Porsches and select which colour you'd want. I, obviously, opted for Racing Red.
The quality of the image on these programs was definitely the best I've ever seen, and if retailers are willing to fork out the £4,000-odd price tag for one of these, I'd say they wouldn't be making a mistake.
Under the bonnet, the Toughpad is running on an Intel Core i5 1.9GHz CPU, with NVIDIA Geforce 745M graphics. The 4K screen is 3840 x 2560 and offers up 230ppi with a 15:10 aspect ratio. It comes with either 4 or 8 GB of RAM, and a 256 GB SSD.
I was pleasantly surprised with the weight of the thing: at only 2.35 kg, I was expecting it to be a little heavier. It doesn't feel too clunky in the hand either, measuring only 12.5mm thick. All this does come at a cost of a 2 hour battery life though, but considering this won't really be the type of thing you'll take on the tube, I guess it's workable.
Onboard the device is a USB 3.0 port, SDXC card slot, a headphone jack and a docking connector. The dock itself basically can change the tablet into a PC - with a LAN, HDMI and three USB ports on offer. One neat thing about the cradle is that it has two positions: upright like a regular monitor and then almost flat, for artists or sharing the viewing experience.
The Toughpad also comes with an electronic touch pen, which looks something like a cross between a sonic screwdriver and a pregnancy test stick. It is, however, better than both of those things put together as the magic wand has an accuracy of 0.1mm, and beams your directions via infra-red to the screen, then back, and then to the tablet using Bluetooth.
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