Panasonic has unveiled the latest addition to its line of rugged notebook computers: the Toughbook 53. The machine sports second-generation Intel Core i3 and i5 processors, 3G and 4G LTE mobile broadband connectivity options, a 14-inch display, 2 to 8GB of RAM, USB 3.0, and a design that's 15% lighter and 5% thinner than its predecessor. That's not to say it qualifies as a thin and light by any means. The Toughbook 53 is as bulky as ever built with a magnesium-alloy case that can withstand drops up to 30 inches, as well as vibration, humidity and dust.
The system meets MIL-STD-810G certifications for ruggedness, its keyboard is spill resistant and there's even a hard drive heater available for working in extremely cold conditions. Security features include a fingerprint reader, a Smartcard reader, TPM, AMT, vPro, a Kensington lock slot and Panasonic security utilities.
In terms of connectivity you can expect two USB 2.0 ports and one USB 3.0 port, an SDXC card slot, HDMI and VGA video output, built-in gigabit Ethernet, Bluetooth, 802.11n Wi-Fi, as well as optional FireWire, a second LAN card and optional Gobi 2000 mobile broadband for connecting to Sprint or Verizon 3G mobile broadband networks. An option for connecting to 4G LTE networks will also be made available in the summer.
Panasonic says the Toughbook 53 is capable of running for up to 10 hours with a long-life battery back or 6 hours with the Lightweight battery pack. A model based on the Intel Core i5 processor will launch in June with prices starting at $1,899. The touchscreen version of the same model should come in July with an estimated street price of $2,449, while a more affordable Core i3 model will land in August starting at $1,599.