Panasonic Toughpad FZ-Q2, First Take: A semi-rugged 2-in-1 for white-collar field workers

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Earlier this year Panasonic launched the semi-rugged 2-in-1 detachable Toughpad FZ-Q2, and it's quite a beast. A 12.5-inch Windows 10 tablet sits in a sizeable, rigid chassis, while the keyboard section has an extremely solid connector and is itself chunky and robust.

These aren't criticisms, merely observations. The whole point of the Toughpad FZ-Q2 is to meet the needs of businesses requiring 2-in-1 functionality in a system that can handle a range of demanding situations.

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The 'semi-rugged' 12.5-inch Toughpad FZ-Q2 comprises a 1.09kg tablet and a detachable 840g keyboard. It's powered by a Core m5 vPro processor with 4GB of RAM, integrated graphics and 128GB of SSD storage.

Images: Panasonic

The tablet is designed to handle drops from up to 76cm (2.5 feet) and has a magnesium alloy chassis plus a tough rubberised band around its edges. Panasonic's spec sheet mentions 'pending' MIL-STD 810G certification and an IP5x rating. The latter signifies dust protection (5) but no waterproofing (x), although the keyboard is described as 'spill-proof'.

There's a relatively generous screen bezel, and the whole thing is quite large for a 12.5-inch tablet, measuring 340mm wide by 220mm deep by 19mm thick. The tablet alone weighs 1.09kg, rising to 1.93kg and 43mm thick with the keyboard attached.

The specifications aren't exactly leading edge, but should handle a range of mainstream and vertical-market workloads.The CPU is an 6th generation Intel Core m5-6Y57 with vPro and integrated Intel HD Graphics 515. There's 4GB of RAM as standard, with an 8GB factory option. Windows 10 Pro is installed as standard, but a downgrade to Windows 7 is available if required. The base SSD storage capacity is 128GB, with 256GB on offer as a factory option. The 12.5-inch touch-screen has full HD resolution (1,920 x 1,080 pixels) with a maximum brightness of 350 nits.

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The tablet-keyboard connection is very robust, with a back support and kickstand for added stability when you're working in laptop mode.

Image: Panasonic

Ports, connectors and buttons are ranged around the three edges of the tablet that aren't needed for docking. The buttons are recessed into the upper long edge, are quite small and may prove tricky to get at with a gloved hand. The power connector is protected under a hinged cover, and a second cover protects the headset jack and the device's only full-size USB 3 port.

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The remaining connectors are not protected by a cover. There's a full-size HDMI port that can also connect to VGA, as Panasonic provides a dongle. There's also an RJ-45 LAN connector and a legacy serial port. You'll find a MicroSD card reader under a cover on the base, which is also the location for the optional 4G LTE module's SIM card slot. A stylus sits in a slot on the upper right corner of the tablet; it's a relatively basic chunk of plastic with a large, soft nib that can be used on-screen writing, drawing or general navigation. It's not powered, and lacks the pressure-sensitive features of more sophisticated styluses. It's entirely fit for its relatively low-level purpose, though, and Panasonic provides a lanyard for tethering the stylus to the tablet.

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The Touchpad FZ-Q2 has an integrated carry handle. A rotatable rear-mounted carry strap is also available as an option.

Image: Panasonic

The connection to the keyboard is, as noted earlier, very robust. Two lugs are set into sizeable slots on the tablet. A slider locks the tablet in place, and the two can be parted only by unlocking and then pushing a second release catch. There's a back support for the tablet which helps anchor it securely and prevent it and the keyboard snapping apart. A small fold-out kickstand helps to provide stability in laptop mode, preventing the top-heavy tablet section from tipping over when you tap at the touch-screen.

The keyboard's keys are large and responsive, but the touchpad is on the small side. Panasonic claims 9 hours' life for the system's single non-removable 4,860mAh battery.

Panasonic's Toughpad FZ-Q2 is more about (semi) ruggedness than a cutting-edge spec. It's certainly tougher than your average 2-in-1 detachable, but the price -- starting at €1,995 -- reflects that, as you'd expect.

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