Panasonic's Tireless Little Toughbook
At a Glance
Geared toward users who often work outdoors in extreme conditions, Panasonic's ruggedized Toughbook Y2 must be the unofficial notebook of the Energizer Bunny. Vendors always overpromise on battery life, but the ultraslim Y2 actually ran past the 4 hours Panasonic vouches for. It just kept going and going and going, before finally using up its juice at 4 hours and 53 minutes.
Great battery life isn't the $2550 Y2's only strength. I kept expecting to run into one of the gotchas that so often accompany sub-4-pound notebooks, but I never found one.
Performance was no embarrassment. The unit's 1.3-GHz Low Voltage Intel Pentium M 713 processor helped power the Y2 to a respectable WorldBench 5 score of 61, despite a relatively meager 256MB allotment of RAM. The screen--a crisp 14.1-inch, 1400-by-1050 SXGA antiglare TFT--did its job handsomely, displaying gorgeous graphics under most lighting conditions. And connectivity was well served: The Toughbook Y2's 802.11g antenna clamped tenaciously onto even weak signals.
Surely they skimped on the design, then? Nope. The unit's full-size, 87-key keyboard was one of the most comfortable that I have used on any notebook. And I found the Toughbook's DVD/CR-RW combo drive--with its clamshell door integrated into the front of the wrist rest--distinctly easier to use than the slide-out tray that most notebooks have.
Well, maybe the gotcha has to do with Panasonic's assertion that the unit is ruggedized? The case does feel like cheap toy plastic. But the surprisingly resilient material envelopes a sturdy magnesium alloy case, and the 40GB hard drive is shock-mounted.
I couldn't find anything to cause me to think twice about the shipping unit I tested. With its solid performance, good battery life, durable chassis, high-quality keyboard and screen, and powerful Wi-Fi signal, the Toughbook Y2 is one gotcha-free notebook.
Panasonic Toughbook Y2
Handsome, rugged laptop offers excellent battery life and performance.
Price when reviewed: $2550
Current prices (if available)