What’s a Toughbook and Who Needs One?

What is a Toughbook?

Toughbooks are a brand of extremely durable mobile computers (laptops) that are manufactured by Panasonic. Panasonic is a huge name in the electronics industry so I’m sure that you’ve heard of them. They make all kinds of things, from blenders to 3D plasma TVs to Toughbooks, and they’re great at what they do. When they decided to plunge into the rugged laptop market, they did the same as they do with everything else; they provided the best solution possible.

Most people have had their fair share of experience working with a laptop, and as most of you know, they aren’t the most durable pieces of equipment. The screens wobble around, keys pop off the keyboard, the case gets scratched, etc.. Since these problems are easily fixed/repaired, usually for a relatively small price, they are not the main concern. Since your laptop is most likely mobile and travels with you, it is often subjected to being dropped, having things spilled on them, and large amounts of dust are sucked into the computer through its fans.

These common issues might be easy to avoid if you’re able to control the environment that your laptop is subjected to, but what if that is out of your hands? That is the problem that is faced by many working professionals in the EMT, Police, and Fire departments, as well as many others, which I will most likely detail in my next post. I’m sure it is easy for you to imagine situations where the individuals using the laptop need that computer to get their job done but cannot guarantee that their equipment will be treated with the delicateness that you would use when handling your own laptop in your living room. These are the people that need something like a Panasonic Toughbook.

What makes a Toughbook Special?

Toughbooks are different because they aren’t built to look stylish and sleek like a laptop that you would want to purchase for personal use, they are built to withstand abuse. These laptops are not branded as a Toughbook unless they pass various tests and examinations that measure the amount of abuse that they are capable of withstanding. There are generally three difference families of Toughbooks, the Fully-Rugged, the Semi-Rugged, and the Business-Rugged, which vary in degrees of “tough” that they must be able to show in order to be a part of the family. The Fully-Rugged usually weigh more but are the most rugged of the bunch, followed by the semi-rugged, and then the business rugged. In the future, my posts will go into each family and the tests that are necessary for these laptops to meet the requirements of a Toughbook.

Who Needs Them?

Now that you are familiar with the “what” of Toughbooks, it is time to learn about the “who.” So you already know that Panasonic sells a very rugged line of laptops that they call “Toughbooks,” which are ready to take any kind of punishment you send their way. In most cases, these Toughbooks cost significantly more money for the same amount of computing power that you would get from your average laptop. Exactly who is it that is willing to spend the extra money to have a ruggedized laptop, and why?


When a communications network has problems, it is most likely going to have a detrimental effect on every part of their work flow. Making sure that they are reliant on computers that aren’t going to let them down ensures that they will be able to have their network back up and running no time. Because Toughbooks are so durable, they can be brought out into practically any type of climate without having to worry about being damaged.

Police Officers

I’m sure you’ve seen the laptops that police officers have mounted in their vehicles. These laptops are almost certainly Toughbooks. When police officers are patrolling around in their squad cars, they are doing more than looking for people who are speeding; they are typing license plate numbers into their Toughbooks in search of drivers with expired licenses, insurance and registration violations, and other outstanding criminal warrants. This system is much more practical than relying on two-way radio calls to busy dispatchers, it is an almost immediate wave of information. Additionally, this information presents the officer with a better understanding of what type of person he is dealing with when he has to make contact with a suspect, such as whether or not the suspect is believed to be armed or dangerous.


When emergency medical transport is required, the patient is most likely going to be in a situation where they need emergency medical attention. In an effort to make sure that the care they are provided with is as best as it possible could be, the EMT professional needs to have access to the patient’s medical history. The government is pushing for all medical records to be recorded electronically, and these EMTs need a way of quickly accessing this information while they’re in the field. Using a laptop that is equipped with wireless internet capabilities is one possible solution. Obviously, the environments that they are going to be in when they need this information will not always be satisfactory, which means that they are going to need a very durable laptop that won’t let them down. Since Panasonic’s Toughbooks are the leading rugged mobile computing solution, they are an obvious choice in an environment such as this.


You have been given a small sampling of a few of the different types of people who can benefit from using a Toughbook rather than your average laptop. These fields, however, are not the only areas where using a rugged laptop makes more sense. I’m sure that, after reading some of these examples, you can imagine some other situations that would be improved if a Toughbook were to be involved.