The mighty field service relic – Panasonic Toughbook CF-41


Well, it was a surprise to find this in the cupboard – a Panasonic Toughbook CF-41. The very first model that was first launched in 1994; 24 years ago!

It was big news when the CF-41 was unveiled as it delivered many “firsts”. The world’s first notebook PC to integrate a CD-ROM drive (do you remember that compartment underneath the keyboard?). The first computing product to utilise magnesium alloy for strength and durability. The CF-41 was to be the first in a long line of Toughbooks that would revolutionise field work as we knew it.

Toughbooks were, and still are, designed to withstand extremely rugged use. They can be dropped from up to 70cm, stood on and driven over apparently (we’ve not tried). Furthermore, they can cope with severe vibration, spills, grime, extreme weather and the roughest of handling. The original launch back in 1994 was great news for industries such as construction, defense, emergency services, government, healthcare, law enforcement, manufacturing, oil, gas, telecom, and utilities. The incredible resilience of the Toughbook also helped to minimise repair bills and ensure less downtime from broken technology.

Our memories of early Panasonic Toughbooks relate to their use by one of our customers, British Gas. They however, started their widespread issue of them with the CF-27 in 1999. This model revolutionised the series by introducing a touch screen. At the time, they were remarkable pieces of technology to have access to out in the field, ensuring that employees had important data at their fingertips, wherever they were.

So, where has Panasonic Toughbook got to today? Still very much a brand, the latest rugged model is the CF-31. No, we don’t understand the number sequencing either. Coupled with its reputation to be all but indestructible (the claim of “bullet-proof” has also been tested by the determined, we’ve not tried that one either!), the specification has clearly developed significantly. You can specify an Intel Core i3, i5 or i7 processor, typically giving in the region of 2.6GHz. There’s 8GB of RAM and Windows 10 Pro available. Battery life is an incredible 18 hours and there’s an Intel HD 5500 graphics card. It even has a camera!

You might be interested to know that we have a few more IT skeletons in the cupboard. It’s quite amusing to see just how much things have developed since the back end of the last century and we look forward to showcasing a few more delights over the course of time.