Panasonic has launched a revamped Toughbook tablet that brings the device's internals up to speed with its rugged exterior. Although last year's Toughbook H1 was durable enough to withstand the elements, shoppers were often deterred by the machine's anemic Intel Atom processor. Recognizing that inadequacy, Panasonic went back to the drawing board and decided to scrap the Atom for Intel's speedier ULV Core series processor.

Housed in a magnesium alloy chassis, the new Toughbook H2 is robust enough to meet the military's MIL-STD-810G standards for shock, dust, water, cold, and heat resistance. Underneath that hardened shell, you'll find a 1.7GHz Core i5-2557M vPro processor, 4-8GB of RAM, a 320GB 7200RPM shock-mounted HDD or 128GB SSD, and a 10.1-inch sunlight-viewable dual-touch display that can generate up to 6000 nit of transflective brightness.

The system is also outfitted with twin hot-swappable batteries that drive the weight up to 3.5lbs and provide up to 6.5 hours of battery life, a 2MP autofocus camera with an LED flash, along with a fingerprint reader as well as contactless and insertable SmartCard readers. Connectivity includes Ethernet, 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth v2.1 + EDR, 3G mobile broadband, GPS, a USB port, a serial port, as well as RFID and barcode readers.

Folks who plan to use more than one USB device can drop the Ethernet jack in favor of a second USB port. The base device supports CDMA networks (Sprint and Verizon), but HSPA networks (AT&T and T-Mobile) will be supported later this year. Likewise, an optional 4G chip will be offered sometime in the third or fourth quarter. The Toughbook H2 will become available worldwide this month with an estimated US street price of $3,449.