Panasonic Toughpad FZ-G1 review
10.1 in 1,920x1,200 display, 1.1kg, 1.9GHz Intel Core i5-3437U, 4.00GB RAM, 128GB disk, Windows 8
The Panasonic Toughpad FZ-G1 is a powerful tablet computer that runs Windows 8 Pro and is designed to withstand shock and environmental damage that would destroy a standard tablet. Contractors such as builders, plumbers and gardeners are an immediate audience for this hardened tablet PC, but a wide range of configurable features and a massive battery life mean that it'll also be useful to those who work on the move, such as travelling salespeople and professional drivers.
Essentially, the Toughpad FZ-G1 is a 10.1in touchscreen tablet with a 1.9GHz dual-core Intel Core i5-3437U processor with 4GB of RAM and a 128GB mSATA SSD. It scored 46 overall in our multimedia benchmark test, so it's powerful enough to run any standard desktop application with ease, providing comparable performance to the latest Core i5 Ultrabooks and coming close to Core i7 models such as the Dell XPS 12. The Toughpad’s 4GB of memory is plenty, unless you're into advanced video or photo editing, although the tablet can be upgraded to a maximum 8GB of RAM.
HARD AND FAST
The Toughpad uses the processor's integrated on-chip Intel HD Graphics 4000 GPU, achieving an average frame rate of 16.7fps in Dirt Showdown at High quality and a resolution of 1,920x720. Although that’s technically a pass, it isn’t playable. Remarkably, the Toughpad scored an average frame rate of 34fps with only a slight reduction in quality, which means you really can enjoy a bit of gaming in your lunch break. Of course, the Toughbook isn’t designed for gaming, but those scores show that it can handle tasks such as displaying rendered architectural models reasonably well.
Conveniently, the FZ-G1 also has an HDMI output, which means you can connect it to an external monitor or projector when you’re working at a desk or presenting to colleagues.
The Toughpad’s built-in SSD provides fast boot times, taking around nine seconds to boot from scratch and around three seconds to wake from sleep. The physical power button requires a long press to put the tablet to sleep and to start it, which means that it's less likely to power on accidentally if something bangs into it when it’s in your bag.
Other buttons along the front include a key to enable and disable the accelerometer, a Windows key that primarily functions as a shortcut to switch between the Desktop and Start screens, volume buttons and two user-definable buttons marked A1 and A2. A special app lets you configure these to launch a program, act as back or forward buttons or execute a specific key-press combination among many other options. You can also set a different press-and-hold command to each in addition to the short-press functions.
These buttons are useful in environments such as motor garages and building sites, where your hands may be too dirty to handle even the FZ-G1's rugged touchscreen. Should you not want to smear the Toughpad’s screen with grease and dirt, you can use the supplied digitiser pen, which is ehld in a slot at the back of the tablet. It’s extremely accurate, even when navigating the high-resolution 1,920x1,200 display in desktop mode. The IPS alpha display is stunning and clearly visible, even in bright sunlight despite the slightly glossy Gorilla Glass 2 finish, and a circular polariser filter, similar to those used on ATMs, helps make the display easy to read in direct sunlight. Colours look natural and the screen is easily visible from a wide range of viewing angles. The 10-point touchscreen is also accurate and responsive, whether you're using your fingers or the digitizer pen.