TODO alt text

Panasonic Toughbook CF-31 review

A highly rugged travel companion with excellent features, but flawed usability

Our Verdict

Product features

  • Screen Resolution : 1024 x 768
  • Processor Core : Dual-core (2 Core)

View full specification

For

  • Solid build quality
  • Decent performance
  • Battery life
  • Touchscreen controls

Against

  • Frustrating touchpad
  • No optical drive
  • Graphics performance

Panasonic's Toughbook range is built to survive in the harshest climates, making it perfect for more adventurous users. The Toughbook CF-31 is the latest entry and an extremely well-built laptop, well suited to travel.

With an Ingress Protection rating of 65, this machine can withstand a jet of water from any direction and is impervious to dust infiltration. It's been tested to military-grade standards and can withstand a drop of up to 180cm, thanks to the rugged magnesium alloy casing and flexible internal parts.

The chassis is incredibly bulky and weighs 3.8kg, but it's undeniably solid and features a built-in handle for transport. The battery life of 563 minutes is truly remarkable for an Intel Core i5-powered machine and means you get a full day of use even if you're miles from a plug socket.

Comfortable keyboard

Despite the boxy build, we had no problems with the firm and tapered keyboard. Some of the keys are squashed due to the restricted size, but the wide palmrests make typing comfortable.

Unfortunately, the touchpad is tiny and non-responsive and infuriated us in seconds, so we quickly resorted to the touchscreen controls instead.

The square 13.1-inch screen is one of the brightest displays we've seen, with an effective anti-reflective finish. You can prod the solid surface with your finger or the included stylus to move the cursor, which is preferable to using the touchpad, despite Windows 7's fiddly menus.

The solid hinges mean the screen doesn't shake when jabbed, although it picks up fingerprints and smudges a little easily and you have to push hard to get a response.

Performance is strong, thanks to the Intel Core i5 520M processor, and you can comfortably multi-task with various applications open.

The integrated Intel GMA HD graphics are more limiting, but there's enough power to enjoy your media and even indulge in some light photo editing.

Although our test model didn't come with an optical drive, there's a slot for adding a DVD drive if desired. There's a large number of ports, including VGA and HDMI connections for attaching external monitors, 4 USB ports for connecting peripherals, and even an aerial socket.

802.11n Wi-Fi and Gigabit Ethernet provide speedy networking and Bluetooth is also on board for sharing files with compatible devices.

Although the Toughbook CF-31 is bulky and heavy, it's an indispensable companion for anyone who regularly visits inhospitable climates. And despite some usability issues, they don't detract too much from the resistive build, bright screen and excellent features.

Follow TechRadar Reviews on Twitter: http://twitter.com/techradarreview

Tech Specs

Product TypeNotebook
Green CompliantYes
Hard Drive Capacity160 GB
TouchscreenYes
Processor ManufacturerIntel
Graphics Controller ManufacturerIntel
Graphics Controller ModelHD Graphics
BluetoothYes
Wireless LANYes
Graphics Memory AccessibilityShared
Maximum Battery Run Time11 Hour
HDMIYes
Backlight TechnologyLED
Product FamilyToughbook 31
Processor Modeli5-520M
Operating SystemWindows XP Professional, Windows XP Professional with SP3
Brand NamePanasonic
Processor Speed2.40 GHz
Processor TypeCore i5
Screen Size33.3 cm (13.1")
Screen Resolution1024 x 768
Standard Memory2 GB
Weight (Approximate)3.72 kg
Cache3 MB
Processor CoreDual-core (2 Core)
Green Compliance Certificate/AuthorityRoHS, EPEAT Gold, ENERGY STAR
64-bit ProcessingYes
Chipset ManufacturerIntel
Chipset ModelQM57 Express
Number of Total Memory Slots2
Graphics Memory CapacityUp to 763 MB
Display Screen TypeActive Matrix TFT Colour LCD
Display Screen TechnologyCircuLumin
Wireless LAN StandardIEEE 802.11n
Bluetooth StandardBluetooth 2.1
vPro TechnologyYes
Ethernet TechnologyGigabit Ethernet
ConstructionRugged
Total Number of USB Ports4
Memory StandardDDR3-1066/PC3-8500
Height73.7 mm
Width302.3 mm
Depth292.1 mm
Screen ModeXGA
Memory TechnologyDDR3 SDRAM
Product Series31
ManufacturerPanasonic
Product ModelCF-31ATAAXDE
Product NameToughbook CF-31ATAAXDE Notebook
Pointing Device TypeStylus, TouchPad
Product LineToughbook
Aspect Ratio4:3
Manufacturer Part NumberCF-31ATAAXDE
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.panasonic.co.uk
Marketing Information

Panasonic presents the Toughbook 31, the reliable laptop offering the highest performance in its class along with the world's most rugged design. With drop-shock protection and an MIL-STD-810G certification, it's the undisputed leader in the fully-rugged category. Its new Intel Core i5 and i3 processors, along with available discrete graphics, pack a punch to deliver desktop-class performance and improved video/3D graphics. An integrated webcam option and larger storage capacity set the Toughbook 31 apart from the competition. Five generations of delivering rugged performance plus 11 years of consistent docking compatibility, and you have a computer that will go the distance with you anytime, anywhere.

Maximum Memory8 GB
Battery ChemistryLithium Ion (Li-Ion)
Package Contents
  • Toughbook CF-31ATAAXDE Notebook
  • Lithium Ion Battery
  • AC Adapter
Limited Warranty3 Year