PANASONIC TOUGHBOOK 30 Military/Police Ruggedized Notebook Computer
I recently had the opportunity and priviledge of selling 25 Panasonic CF-30 Dual Core Centrino "TouchScreen" ToughBook Notebooks to a Wild Land Fire Fighting Team. They were field units and I was a little afraid
of the deal since they were to operate in some very difficult environments.
I was especially worried about the TouchScreen since there was significant "Scratches" on the Plastic TouchScreen Interface which protects the LCD Screen. It seems that the end-users had been using the writing end of a conventional pen instead of using a stylus. Well my worries were unfounded and everything turned out OK.
This unit was originally worth $3500 USA Dollars and I can see why. The quality of the construction, the casing and handle as well as the brightness of the LCD are astounding. It was as if I had sold 25 used "Hummers" and the reaction of my clients was amazing.
Many people told me that they had dreamed of purchasing such a unit but never thought they could afford one, until now. I was fortunate that all my units were complete and not missing any of the key parts, including the Hard Drive Caddy, the hard disks themselves and a working battery pack in over 97% of the units received. The RAM had been maxed-out to the maximum of 4.256GB's and the Hard Drive was a standard 160GB.
Some of the units were downright scratched, and normal scrubbing did not
help. I found an amazing product called Poly-Cure, containing the
active ingredient Resins, which did the trick and reduced the
time, energy and elbow grease required by filling any puncture marks, and when submerged in water there was no leaks. Using special poly-coatings each machine was sprayed a OD-Green Military color.
The LCD screens cleaned up very nicely with straight Isopropyl Rubbing Alcohol and the scratches
I mentioned earlier, although a cosmetic defect, are virtually gone when the Super-Bright LCD is activated and the unit is turned on and operating. Panasonic originally installed the best internal components available at the time in this unit, and believe it or not, this unit supports Wide Area Networking, Blue Tooth and Teathering for Satellite Wireless Communication not to mention GPS Functionality.
The original operating system in the units was WIN XP-PRO and I was lucky enough to get an original Panasonic Factory Image installed with all the correct drivers including the TouchScreen driver with "Calibration". The calibration was necessary so that when you Fly UAV vehicles, (point to a location on a map and the helo goes there) (flip switches without searching for function key strokes) they go where they are told. It was also important to load the proper TouchPad driver so the mouse did not behave erratically.
The original keyboards gave me the biggest problem since many of them were used outdoors and as a consequence were "scratched".. Any units with the original plastic keyboards replaced easily with rubber backlit key boards. Minor amounts of water were necessary, although the Panasonic is resistant to moisture and humidity. I chose to replace with a brand-new black keyboard, which not only completely changes the look of the unit, but at the same time makes it appear both modern and cool. This was originally a keyboard from the Panasonic CF-29 but fits both the CF-30and CF-28 models.
Unfortunately like most Panasonic Military-Grade Toughbooks, my units did not come with GPS . They did come with a DVD/CD Optical Drives which is internal, removeable and modular. And when you close the drive door compartment, like all covers on the left, right and back sides (see photo above), it is hermetically sealed against moisture and dust.
The Panasonic CF-30 does come with several USB Port and you can use an
older USB key of either USB 1 and USB 2 products with no problems. Under XP-PRO, most card readers, flash memory, controllers and GPS devices work.
I mentioned the CF-30 Battery Packs earlier had a 97% rate of good units. This compares to less than
5% to used ThinkPads or Dell Latitudes of the same generation and age. All my batteries were the originals from 2006-2007 and today still cost close to $163 retail for a brand-new Panasonic battery which is insane
Another "quirk" you should be aware of is that when the CF-30 battery is actually charged to 100%,
the Power Management feature under XP-PRO may only shows 70%. This is somehow also considered normal, and has something to do with not "over-charging" the battery pack, which is probably WHY most of the batteries still work anywhere between3 minutes to 6 hours on average on the units that I have tested. Please do not let that mislead you into believing that all Panasonic batteries will last this long, but I have been extremely lucky with this particular batch of 25 units.
Let me also state for the record that we are authorized Panasonic
Dealers since 2007 and what you might conservatively call a Panasonic
ToughBook enthusiast and maybe even a fanatic about these units. I have
sold these units all over the world to countries in Africa, Asia, South
America, etc. The reason people still are willing to pay $1200 for a Dual Core Centrino
Notebook with Wireless is that this unit is unique, the touchscreen
feature is cool and the unit is remarkably dependable, reliable but
disposable at the same time. Nobody is going to cry if it gets lost,
stolen or broken. It is also somewhat of an Ugly Ducking and not a
pretty Barbie Laptop and maybe nobody wants to steal it to begin with.
As far as breaking it, good luck! It is pretty solid and I include a
little Youtube look into the Black Hawk USA Toughbook Laptops. Originally produced by Panasonic, all of our machines use original equipment only. Each part must have its own stamped number, and be in a Official Panasonic Manual. Each of our machines are ISO-9000 Certified for Govt. Contracting as well. Our machines are the first to hold the Green Eco Idea Seal a new creation from Panasonic.
Just so that you don't think that the Panasonic CF-30 is perfect, my
one criticism about the units besides the that fact that it is not only
built like a tank but at 7.5lbs is as heavy as a tank, is that the sensitivity of the Touch Calibration is difficult to repair.
I hope is was helpful. We have over 8 years experience with the Panasonic Toughbooks selling, upgrading, fixing-up as well as other Durable Ruggedized Laptops. Thank-you for reading this article and for allowing me the opportunity to contribute back something to the eBay Community. I would appreciate any feedback you care to offer.