Panasonic introduces Toughbook 54 semi-rugged laptop with Intel Broadwell processor

The company claims the notebook is the thinnest and lightest in its semi-rugged class, complete with magnesium alloy case with built-in handle.

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Despite some past woes with faulty batteries, Panasonic continues to trot out its Toughbook line of durable mobile devices. including making an early commitment to Intel's new Broadwell processors. A couple of weeks ago, it announced that it would add a Broadwell CPU to its Toughbook 31 laptop, and now it's launching the Toughbook 54 with a fifth-generation Core i5 chip.

The Toughbook 54 is a larger sibling to the 31, sporting a 14-inch display instead of a 13.1-inch screen. Nonetheless, Panasonic claims that it's the thinnest and lightest semi-rugged laptop for its class, weighing in under 5 pounds and just 1.2 inches thick. It's built from magnesium alloy with a built-in handle and has been tested to MIL-STD-810G and IP5x standards for durability and dust-resistance. Additional features provided to keep the 54 working in harsh conditions include a shock-mounted hard drive, hard drive heater, and spill-resistant keyboard.

Inside, the 54 comes with a Core i5-5300U vPro processor, 4GB to 16GB of RAM (depending on the model), 500GB hard drive (with optional solid-state drive choices), and the ability to add a second SSD. Panasonic is offering four different editions of the Toughbook: the Lite (which has a 1,366x768 screen, 5,400rpm hard drive compared to 7,200rpm drives in other flavors); the Prime (with same resolution display as the Lite); the Performance (1,920x,1080 full HD display, AMD FirePro M5100 GPU in addition to Intel's integrated graphics); and the Gloved Multi Touch (1,000-nit touchscreen with pre-installed screen film, stylus).

As with many enterprise friendly laptops, the 54 is available with either Windows 8.1 Pro or Windows 7 Pro. Panasonic has turned up the volume with this Toughbook -- literally -- doubling the power of its speakers compared to the Toughbook 53 to deal with job-site noise. It supports numerous versions of Wi-Fi available (802.11 a/b/g/n/ac) and offers integrated 4G and dedicated GPS options. In addition to the security features baked into Intel's vPro technology, the 54 provides a Kensington cable lock slot and Computrace theft protection and optional integrated SmartCard or fingerprint readers.

The base Toughbook 54 is being priced a little bit higher than the 53, which currently costs a little over $1,300. The starting price for the 54 will be $1,499 when it becomes available this month, though Panasonic hasn't detailed the cost for the other editions.