Panasonic CF-U1. Brief hands-on. 8hrs of Menlow-based Pro-Mobility.

Posted on 06 August 2008, Last updated on 11 November 2019 by

cfu1-lightsThe important element of this little report is that, for the first time, I’ve been able to play with a Menlow-based ultra mobile PC (Atom 1.33Ghz Z520, Poulsbo) running Windows XP although I have to say, the Panasonic CF-U1 is an awesome device that needs to be talked about first. Lets get my excitement about the CF-U1 out of the way…

  • Dual, hot-swappable 20Wh batteries. Now that’s a feature I want, with an external charger.
  • Dual high-brightness LEDs around the camera. For that night-time report or just to scare young boys!
  • Fingerprint reader for security and speed benefits.
  • Modules all over the place! This one had a laser barcode scanner and RFID reader.
  • Hand strap options.
  • Amazing Wifi and Bluetooth reception. I didn’t get a chance to test it out but apparently a lot of time was spent getting it right. The person showing me the U1 [Hi Jason. Thanks for breakfast!] had done some tests to confirm this.
  • Peace-of-mind ruggedness.
  • High efficiency build.

More after the images below…

Panasonic U1- (5) Panasonic U1- (6) Panasonic U1- (8) Panasonic U1- (2) Panasonic U1- (4)
Click for full sizes or see gallery

So lets talk about that ‘high efficiency build.’  I was playing around with the device, enjoying it and didn’t think once about the speed of response. The OS was totally transparent. It was running XP and it performed just as I’d expect a PC to perform. I’m not saying that XP was 100% the reason as this device is built with an SSD and I’m not saying that it’s a powerful PC but compared to the Vista-based SC3 that is built on the same Intel platform, the OS response was smooth and without issues. Once again, XP and SSD turn out to be a winning combination for pro-mo users.

Secondly, battery life. I dropped out one of the two batteries (while it was running, see images above) and checked the battery life. With Wifi on and unknown software build, it was instantly returning 3hrs with Wifi on. Screen brightness wasn’t as good as the SC3 but it was viewable in the bright sunny area that we were sitting in. Checking perfmon put a smile on my face. Between 4 and 5w of drain without any need to wait for the device to settle down. I assume that the modules were turned off at this point! With both batteries installed we were seeing 8hrs on the battery life meter.

This sort of quality doesn’t come cheap but at least we know it can be done. I’d love to see a consumer version of this as a 7″ mininote. If they can do 8hrs in 1KG with all that ruggedness, i’m sure they can reach 800gm but still keep 40wh of battery. But then again, maybe we don’t have to wait for Panasonic. Maybe the Clevo 1.6Ghz Menlow-based 40whr design will do exactly the same.

[Note: The keyboard design shown here is not as you’d find it on a standard version.]

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