Home Reviews Computers Panasonic CF-AX2 tough book tablet – Review

When reviewing a Panasonic tablet/hybrid tough book one is tempted to overlook any hardware specifications and beat the living daylights out of it.

Ironically, and fortunately for me, a brief read of the manual reveals ‘This computer is designed to minimise shock to parts such as the LCD and flash memory drive and equipped with a drip proof keyboard, but no warranty is provided against any trouble caused by shock.” Panasonic call this a ‘business-rugged convertible Ultrabook.’ Spoil sport …

It is a clamshell design e.g. notebook with 360 degree hinges that allow the screen to flip over to form a thickish tablet.

So let’s get the specifications covered before I am tempted to accidentally drop it – it is supposed to withstand drops of 76cm – desk height!

  • Intel Core vPro 15-3427U – ultra low power, 1.8GHz to up to 2.3GHz in turbo mode. Trusted Platform Module 1.2. This is a 3rd generation, single core, hyper-threading (so it looks like dual core) processor drawing a measly 17 watts.
  • 4GB RAM, 128GB SSD (about 90GB free), SD slot
  • 64bit Windows 8.1 Pro (to log into corporate domains)
  • 11.6”, 1366x768, 135ppi, multi-touch (not a digitiser)
  • Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi N dual band, Ethernet RJ-45 socket, 2 x USB 3.0, HDMI, VGA out, microphone and audio jacks
  • Forward 720p 1280 x 720 pixel camera
  • Built in 2200 mAh battery and a second hot swap 4400 mAh battery
  • 1.155kg, 288 (w) x194 (d) x18mm (h)
  • Optional 3G SIMM card slot
  • 3 year warranty

People buy this Ultrabook to withstand the rough, and tumble - on that count, it is fine. It does everything Windows does with good speed and reasonable battery life – the hot swap is a great feature.

The screen is not great – even under normal office lighting it appears washed out at full brightness and it was hard to see in the sun. Its viewing angle is narrow suggesting it is a standard TN panel. One review measured approx. 180 cd/m2 (low) and 458:1 contrast (OK).

It is also not a multimedia device – one small speaker produces tinny sounds – use an external speaker if sound is an issue.

Battery life was good – 10 hours maximum and about 5 hours under working load with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.

The keyboard – an unavoidable evil for journalists – was poor in that regard. It is strictly a hunt and peck chicklet style for occasional use.

Pros: Business-rugged – good for the road warrior; good battery life and hot swap battery; and plenty of processing power

Cons: Mediocre screen and a cramped, awkward, albeit drip proof, keyboard

Would I buy one?

That is a tough call and relates to whether robustness overcomes any admittedly minor irritations. At around AU$2200 I would also look at Toshiba’s Portege Z10 or HP’s EliteBook Revolve but Panasonic has the Toughbook reputation that you cannot ignore.

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Ray Shaw

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Ray Shaw ray@im.com.au  has a passion for IT ever since building his first computer in 1980. He is a qualified journalist, hosted a consumer IT based radio program on ABC radio for 10 years, has developed world leading software for the events industry and is smart enough to no longer own a retail computer store!

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