Rugged laptops: Panasonic's modular Toughbook 40 is built for the toughest use cases

The fully rugged 14-inch Toughbook 40 has a modular and highly configurable design, and is built to withstand some serious punishment.
Written by Charles McLellan, Senior Editor
Image: Panasonic

Designed for demanding customers like the military, police and utility companies, Panasonic's new Toughbook 40 – internally dubbed the 'ultimate Toughbook' – brings new levels of modular configurability to the fully rugged laptop space. 

Built around a magnesium alloy chassis and carrying the requisite rugged credentials – IP66 rating for dust/water resistance, MIL-STD-810H temperature, humidity and vibration testing, and 1.8m drop tests – the 14-inch Toughbook 40 has a modular clamshell design with no fewer than seven expansion areas that allow for a total of 70 different configurations, Panasonic says. 

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As well as the ability to swap out the main battery, RAM and SSD drives, there are four areas – left and right sides, rear and palm-rest – that can accept a variety of options. These include a second SSD and a second battery, an optical drive, a smart card reader, various combinations of ports and a fingerprint reader. If that's not enough, there's a fully featured desktop port replicator available too, along with an ecosystem of accessories including a vehicle mount and a four-bay battery charger. Panasonic claims the Toughbook 40 will last for 18 hours on one battery and double that with two batteries installed.

The 3.35kg Toughbook 40 is a Microsoft Secured-Core PC running Windows 11 Pro on 11th-generation Intel Core i5 or i7 vPro processors with 16GB of RAM (64GB max) and 512GB of quick-release SSD storage (2TB max). Graphics are integrated (Intel UHD or Iris Xe Graphics) and the display is an FHD touch screen with auto-detection of touch mode (pen, finger, gloved or wet hand) and up to 1200 nits brightness for outdoor viewability.

Image: Panasonic

Here's a run-down of the Toughbook 40's specifications: 

OSWindows 11 Pro 64-bit (Windows 10 Pro 64-bit Downgrade Model optional)
CPUIntel Core i5-1145G7 vPro, Core i7-1185G7 vPro
RAM 16GB - 64GB DDR4
GPU Intel® UHD Graphics (supports Intel Iris Xe Graphics when 2 RAM modules installed)
Storage 512GB, 1TB, 2TB quick-release NVMe OPAL SSD (with heater)
Screen14-inch touch LCD, FHD (1920 x 1080 pixels), up to 1.200cd/m² brightness
Front camera 5MP with IR / privacy shutter (Windows Hello compliant) optional
SpeakersWaves MaxxAudio stereo speakers
Microphones4x mics with Enhanced Voice Recognition
LAN IEEE 802.3 10Base-T / IEEE 802.3u 100BASE-TX / IEEE 802.3ab 1000BASE-T (2nd GLAN optional)
Bluetooth5.1 Class 1
Wireless LAN Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX201
Mobile broadband4G LTE, 5G support in summer 2022
Global positioningu-blox NEO-M8J (supports GPS, GLONASS, Beidou, Galileo)
Interfaces 2x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A, Thunderbolt 4, Micro SDXC, HDMI, 3.5mm audio jack, power, port replicator connector, quad path through connector
Left expansion area options2nd SSD, smart card reader, DVD drive, Blu-ray drive
Right expansion area options2nd battery, smart card reader 
Rear expansion area optionsVGA + True Serial (RS232) + 2nd native GLAN • USB 3.1 Type A + True Serial (RS232) + 2nd HDMI • USB 3.1 Type A + USB 3.1 Type A + 2nd HDMI
Palm rest expansion area optionsfingerprint reader (Windows Hello), fingerprint reader (Windows Hello, multi-user authentication), contactless smart card reader
Security TPM 2.0, Password security, Integrated hardware security lock slot
PowerAC adapter (100V - 240V AC, 50Hz/ 60Hz, Output: 15.6V DC, 7.05A)
BatteryLi-ion 10.8V, 6500mAh (typ.), 6300mAh (min.)
Battery life~18 hours, ~36 hours with 2nd battery
Power managementStandby function, ACPI BIOS
Dimensions (WxHxD) 354mm x 301mm x 54.4mm (without protruding parts)
Drop resistance 180cm
Dust/water resistanceIP66
Operating temperature -29°C to + 63°C
Standard configuration FZ-40mk1, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD, battery pack
In the boxpower supply, power cord, capacitive pen, display cleaning cloth, user manual
Pricefrom €4,180 / £3,563 / $4,899

As well as multiple configuration options and accessories (which, Panasonic says, can include things like custom-built mounts for military vehicles designed to withstand very serious vibration), the Toughbook 40 has a one-touch Concealed Mode function designed for military operations that disables light and electronic transmissions. Mobile broadband support is currently 4G LTE, with a 5G option due in summer 2022 (you can also specify no mobile broadband). Panasonic has also built an audio subsystem suitable for the rugged/outdoor market, with plenty of volume available from the stereo speakers and four microphones that benefit from AI noise cancellation.

Check out the Toughbook 40's expansion areas:

Palm-rest expansion

Panasonic Toughbook 40: palm-rest expansion
Image: Panasonic

Rear expansion

Panasonic Toughbook 40: rear expansion
Image: Panasonic

Right-side expansion

Panasonic Toughbook 40: right-side expansion
Image: Panasonic

Left-side expansion

Panasonic Toughbook 40: left-side expansion
Image: Panasonic


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