Mobility

Panasonic's new rugged tablet FZ-T1 can be used in pouring rain, survive 5-foot drop

The maker of the Toughbook ruggedized laptops for industrial use, has introduced an Android-powered mobile device.

Panasonic, the mainstay supplier of Toughbook ruggedized laptops for industrial use, has introduced an Android-powered mobile device. The Panasonic Toughbook FZ-T1 has an integrated barcode scanner, and is intended for use apparently more as a PDA than a phone or tablet—the official press renders omit the Dialer app from the home screen. Likewise, there is a Wi-Fi only model available.

The company refers to the product as a "rugged handheld for business." It does have microphones, and can be used as a phone, making the name a mystery given that Panasonic offers Windows and Android tablets under the "Toughpad" name.

As it is, the Toughbook FZ-T1 is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 210, with four cores running at a modest 1.1 GHz. It has a 5" 720p screen, which the company notes can be used with gloved hands or an optional passive stylus. It has 2GB RAM and 16GB storage, and a microSD card slot for expanded storage. The system ships with Android 8.1 Oreo, according to a press release, which is somewhat surprising as industrial-targeted devices tend to be somewhat behind consumer devices in Android versioning.

Of note, the battery is rated for lasting for 12-hours, and is hot-swappable. Charging is done with contact pins rather than plugging in a microUSB cable for extra durability, as those plugs do have a finite plug/unplug lifespan. Multi-unit docks will be available for larger deployments. Panasonic noted in the release that "a long-range barcode reader gun grip" is in development, and will be available early next year.

SEE: Smart office technology: What's working, what's failing, and what users want out of it (Tech Pro Research)

The Wi-Fi only SKU is priced at £1,142 ($1,519) plus VAT, while the 4G-capable model is priced at £1,214 ($1,615). The Wi-Fi only SKU will be available this August, with the 4G-capable version coming the following month. Both devices come with a three-year warranty. In Europe, the 4G version is unlocked, while in Japan, separate models are available locked to NTT Docomo and AU.

Presently, Panasonic has only announced availability in Europe and Japan, though a North American release appears likely—while the company's "Let's Note" series of durable (though not ruggedized in the same manner Toughbooks typically are) laptops are typically Japanese-exclusive devices, Toughbook-branded devices regularly see wider international releases.

Building a slide deck, pitch, or presentation? Here are the big takeaways:
  • The Panasonic Toughbook FZ-T1 has an integrated barcode scanner, and is intended for use apparently more as a PDA than a phone.
  • Presently, Panasonic has only announced availability in Europe and Japan, though a North American release appears likely.

Also see

fzt1.jpg
Image: Panasonic

About James Sanders

James Sanders is a Tokyo-based programmer and technology journalist. Since 2013, he has been a regular contributor to TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research.

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