There are reasons why Panasonic is the world's leader in the production and sale of ruggedized notebooks for law enforcement, the military, and business. One, Panasonic is a huge company with lots of resources for research and development. Two, the company has a strong reputation for quality and ergonomic design. And three, Panasonic just makes excellent products.

The recently released Panasonic Toughbook 52 is a prime example of what the company does best: Make solid updates of battle-proven laptops. As you might imagine, the Panasonic Toughbook 52 is an update of the Toughbook 51 widescreen semi-rugged mobile computer.

Panasonic enlisted the aid of its customers in developing the Toughbook 52. "Our customers play a significant role in the development of Toughbook products," says Rance Poehler, president of Panasonic Computer Solutions Co. "In this case, requests from a broad range of users, from the Department of Defense to some of the world's largest insurance companies, were heard loud and clear by Panasonic design engineers. The result is a semi-rugged notebook that has the power to run the most complex applications, yet is designed for double-duty as a mobile PC in support of all types of field operations."

The Toughbook 51 customers asked for improved security when they were surveyed by Panasonic. Consequently, the Toughbook 52 incorporates more security features than its predecessor, including the Trusted Platform Module security chip and the Computrace software agent in BIOS. In addition, customers can buy an optional fingerprint reader.

Other improvements built into the Toughbook 52 include a new carrying handle and optional embedded access to next-generation wireless data networks from major wireless carriers.

The Mil-Spec- certified Toughbook 52 also has improved durability features, including a magnesium alloy case, flexible internal connectors, and shock-mounted hard drives and LCDs.

Although the Toughbook 52 is classified as semi-rugged, it can take a beating. The computer is certified to MIL-STD-810F, which means it can withstand drops of up to 2.5 feet on all six sides. It also has a spill-resistant keyboard and the hard drive can withstand a three-foot fall.

The Toughbook 52 is more than just tough; it also offers a lot of bang for the buck. With a suggested street price of $2,499, the computer boasts an Intel Core 2 Duo 2-GHz processor with 1GB of RAM and 512MB of video RAM. Longterm memory is provided by a 120GB hard drive.

A less expensive but still powerful Toughbook 52 is also available. For a street price of $1,649, the Toughbook 52 comes with an Intel Core 2 Duo 1.8GHz CPU, 1GB of RAM, 128MB of video RAM, and an 80GB hard drive.

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