It has been barely a couple of weeks since Windows 8 was launched; however, we already have quite a few convertible Windows 8 laptops that can double up as tablets. Panasonic has just thrown its hat into the fray with the Toughbook CF-C2. However, unlike other OEMs, Panasonic isn’t really gunning for the consumer market.
The Toughbook CF-C2 is a niche product that is designed as a work device. Panasonic describes its convertible notebook as ideal for professionals like field and service engineers, and healthcare workers. It believes that the CF-C2 can easily deal with the knocks and scrapes of a busy mobile workers day, and can withstand drops of up to 76cm (6angles). It comes with a water resistant keyboard and touchpad and strengthened glass on the LCD. The 12.5” HD IPS display is advertised to have excellent outdoor visibility and wide viewing angles. The display is capable of recognizing up to 5 simultaneous touches. The Toughbook is powered by Intel Core i5-3427U vPro, and ships with 4 GB RAM (extendable to 8 GB). For imaging needs, you have high definition (720p) front camera, with an optional HD rear cam. Business’ can optionally add modem, VGA port, and serial port to increase compatibility with legacy devices. Connectivity options include Bluetooth 4.0, Wireless LAN a/b/g/n and optional Sierra MC8305 3G module.
The Panasonic Toughbook CF-C2 Is obviously not for everyone. However, business users seeking a flexible and powerful rugged laptop for outdoor use can purchase the CF-C2 starting January 2013. The base model will cost Rs. 1 lakh without taxes in India.
While at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, I was able to get some video of the Lenovo IdeaPad YOGA. The YOGA is a convertible Ultrabook which has four modes of operation:
- Regular laptop mode: In its simplest form, the YOGA is a nice Ultrabook. It conforms to the Ultrabook specifications with the thickness (16.9mm), weight (3.1lbs) and startup/resume times (not specified since it is not final yet).
- Tablet/slate mode: With its patented dual hinge, the YOGA can flip back completely and become a tablet/slate. Now, don’t get me wrong, it is not going to compare to a regular slate in terms of weight or thickness. Instead, think of it as a way to use your laptop more comfortably for say browsing the web or consuming other content.
- Stand mode: The hinges are strong and the body is sturdy, and as a result you can flip back the screen and leave the computer on a table instead of carrying a dock around with you. The IPS panel (1600×900 resolution) does provide great viewing angles which helps this mode’s usage.
- Tent mode: This mode, I am not too sure about, but for sake of completeness, let me describe it. You can fold the laptop so it becomes an inverted “V” and then use it as a photo frame.
I like it a lot because it is thin, it is light and it is not just another laptop. The skeptics may say that we have seen these before and they didn’t work then, so there is no reason they should work now – tablet users want a tablet, and PC users want a PC. Well, I was one of them! The difference between then and now is that this laptop is built for Windows 8. Lenovo didn’t even pretend that it is a Windows 7 PC upgradeable to Windows 8. Windows 8 is a touch-first operating system compared to Windows XP or even Windows 7 which is what powers the “legacy” convertibles.
The operating system being touch-first is one big difference, but also, the form factor. The convertibles of old were thick and bulky, almost like a tablet stacked on top of a regular laptop. The YOGA is sleek, and at 3lbs, it is lighter than most PCs in the market today. The person who was providing me the demo said that they are going to be able to shave another 100 grams before the machine becomes final!
There are many other Ultrabooks worth drooling over, at CES, but this is my best because finally there is a design which is different from the MacBook Air, and not just for the sake of being different (I am looking at you, HP with the Gorilla Glass-covered Ultrabook).
See below for a quick eyes-on, with a demonstration of all four modes in action.