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The Panasonic FZ-G1 Toughpad is not aimed at you. Well, it is if you're in charge of your company's IT budget and have a team that often works in challenging outdoors environments, but if you're the average user just looking for something to watch iPlayer on, you're not the FZ-G1's target audience.
The device is Panasonic's first Windows 8-based tablet, and its first Toughpad to run the OS (the company's two previous Toughpads, the CF-D1 and CF-H2, ran Windows 7 and the latter had more than a passing resemblance to an Etch A Sketch).
The FZ-G1 is actually one of three new tablets from Panasonic, but is the only one to sport the full Windows 8 Pro operating system. The other two tablets — the FZ-A1 and the JT-B1 — run versions of Android instead and come with 10-inch and 7-inch screens, respectively.
If for some reason you'd rather the tablet ran Windows 7 instead of Windows 8 (not an option I'd go for considering Windows 7 performance on a touchscreen) you can request a downgrade.
Given its Toughpad moniker, you'd expect the FZ-G1 to be able to take a bit of a beating and keep on running. While I didn't subject it to anything too extreme (mostly drop tests, some accidental) it certainly kept on working despite the knocks it received. Panasonic says it will withstand drops of up to around four feet — 120cm, to be precise — thanks to its rugged shell and rubberised corners.
That said, I'd have expected the FZ-G1 (Panasonic is sticking with the immediately forgettable and confusing naming scheme for its Toughpads) to come with slightly better 'tough' credentials. While it will withstand a light shower and has dust ingress protection, it most definitely isn't waterproof and shouldn't be submerged in liquid. That's particularly surprising given Sony managed to make its Xperia Z tablet dustproof and fully waterproof for submersion up to 30 minutes — and nothing about that device screams tough.
Unsurprisingly given that it's a rugged device, the Panasonic is not the most svelte or lightest tablet on the market, measuring up at 270mm x 188mm x 19mm thick. It weighs 1.1kg, and feels even heavier if you're holding it in one hand while operating it with the other.
In order to make it water-resistant, Panasonic added a sealed fan system that maintains protection against the rest of the internals. (Its other Android tablets are all fanless.)
Other key specs of the device include a 128GB SSD, 1.9GHz Intel Core i5 processor and 4GB of RAM (expandable to 8GB) and a forward-facing 1.3-megapixel camera. Potential buyers can also specify a 3-megapixel camera with autofocus and LED flash for an additional cost.
It also comes with a stylus (shown in previous photo) to make field workers' lives a little easier. Judging from my experience with the tablet, they'll be using it.
Battery life on the FZ-G1 is around eight hours in the field, according to a Panasonic spokesman, and the battery is user-changeable, meaning you can put in a spare if you're miles from a charger and need to keep on working.
It can also be specified to come with a double-length battery instead, which will give around 16 hours use, Panasonic said. However, this will change the profile of the tablet, giving it a slightly protruding section at the bottom.