Traveling light is easy with Panasonic CF-Y7 Toughbook

The name Toughbook might call to mind images of a thick, heavy and rubber clad laptop. Ultra-light, on the other hand, suggests something as tiny as a pocketbook or as thin as an envelope.

Panasonics CF-Y7 Tougbook breaks away from both stereotypes.

It’s definitely no MacBook Air, but the clean lines and soft finish of the CF-Y7 makes it pleasing to the eyes while its accommodating nature for business or pleasure makes it an ideal traveling companion.

First impressions

In a market awash in thin notebooks with shiny white panels and customized skins, the CF-Y7 stands out with its plain matte silver shell. But once you pick up the unit, you get the urge to run away with it. It’s incredibly light.

At 1.4kgs., the Tougbook owns the distinction of being the lightest 14-inch notebook in the market. However, its $2,599 suggested price tag might be a bit heavy for some users.

Opening the lid, you’ll find the 14.1 inch screen seemingly large for the notebook’s dimensions.

The native resolution of 1,400 x 1,050 screen is both sharp and clear.

The CF-Y7 also has a uniquely designed front mounted multi-format DVD drive and burner that has a cover which flips up like those older CD players. The drive is integrated into the frame and cannot be unscrewed or removed by a latch.

The CF-Y7 and the Fujitsu S6510 are the only ultra portables with a 14-inche screen and DVD burner combo.

A circular touchpad with two curve mouse buttons arranged on a crescent pattern above it can be tricky to navigate at first.

The keyboard spans the whole width of the case. They keys are responsive and pleasant.

Specs

The CF-Y7 runs on a 1.6 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo L7500 processor. This is a low-voltage chip similar to the one installed on the MacBook Air. It might be on the slow end of the dual-core range but it helps in keeping down power consumption and heat.

A cooling system incorporates a compact fan design and a user-defined control to manage fan speeds based on ambient conditions and performance requirements. Panasonic said this system helps prevent overheating and extends battery life.

While many Vista-enabled machines are now rigged with 3GB of RAM and 100 GB or more of hard disk space, the CF-Y7 comes with only 1GB of DDR2 memory and an 80GB hard drive. Although paltry by some standards, this combination provides enough space and power to store and run music and images plus a few films for a plane trip.

The unit’s integrated Intel 965 graphic chipset produces a satisfactory DVD playback for a business notebook.

What the CF-Y7 lacks in power, it makes up for in battery life.

The unit is able to run nearly four and a half hours on a single charge.

There are two USB sockets mounted alongside the network and modem ports on one side, the power on one side, VGA and docking ports are on the other. The notebook has a PC Card slot, headphone, mouse socket and an SD card socket.

Networking is available using 802.11 a/b/g wireless, Bluetooth 2.0 or via Gigabit Ethernet socket.

Unfortunately, the CF-Y7 does not come with a Webcam.

Hand knocks

More than 42 per cent of adult notebook users reported having some form of laptop mishap during the lifetime of their machines, according to a 2007 Harris Interactive poll sponsored by Panasonic.

Some 26 per cent of the respondents reported accidentally knocking their laptop against a hard surface, another 26 per cent said they have drop their portables and another 15 per cent of those polled said they spilled something on their computer.

These findings are in line with research conducted by IDC in 2005 which indicated that dropping a laptop while carrying it is the number one cause of accidental notebook damage.

Panasonic says it designs it “business-rugged” notebooks with these sort of abuse in mind. For instance, while the CF-Y7 does not have an SSD (solid-state drive) option, its hard disk is mounted on a shock-absorbent chassis.

The CF-Y7, according to Panasonic release, can survive drops of 30 inches in height (the typical height of a desk or table) or 100kgs of pressure and its spill-through keyboard protects the machine against liquid spills or more than six ounces.

The loaner I received had obviously been put through the phases. It had a few scratches and scrapes on the front cover and sides.

It looked to me like a bit more testing wouldn’t hurt it much.

While working on a recent article, I accidentally swept the CF-Y7 off my desk and it came crashing onto the hard vinyl floor of my basement. I quickly picked up the laptop and found all functions working perfectly and was able to continue with my story.

A few minutes later, I found my throat parched. But as I took a sip from a glass of water, my grip slipped and I spilled all of the contents onto the keyboard.

I lifted the laptop on one side and all the liquid flowed right out onto my notes. The CF-Y7,however, kept humming along.

For more on laptops that can withstand daily abuse click here.

Security

Data security features include a trusted platform module chip that activates the BitLocker drive encryption feature of Vista. The drive encryption feature, however, is only available to Ultimate and Enterprise edition and not Vista Business users

The drive encryption feature, however, is only available to Ultimate and Enterprise edition and not Vista Business users

Password security as well as a theft protection agent from Computrace or Absolute Software Corp. of Vancouver and a cable lock slot is also included in the package. Users can also order an optional fingerprint scanner.

For tips on how to theft-proof your laptop click here.

Summing it up

Meager RAM and storage capacity hinders the CF-Y7 from besting the many competitors in its market space.

However, many business users will find this Tougbook’s more than adequate for their needs. The unit’s sturdy construction, extreme lightness and long battery life are definite advantages for any traveler.

The laptop’s drab but pleasant appearance might even be a plus since there would be less chances that the unit will catch a thief’s eye.

For people who can afford its considerable sticker price, the CF-Y7 can be the perfect traveling mate.

Comment: edit@itworldcanada.com

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