Let’s start 2015 with a post about a product that might not get beaten by the end of 2015. It’s a product that weighs less than the first touchscreen Windows UMPCs of 2006 and yet includes a Core CPU, full keyboard, 10-inch Full-HD touchscreen and 10+hr battery life. It’s the Panasonic RZ4 convertible and it’s the best engineered sub 1KG ultra-mobile PC out there. It’s expensive and difficult to get hold of but there’s technology in this product that you won’t find anywhere else in the market.
I’ve had some hands-on with a similar Panasonic designbut the new RZ series takes it a step further than the AX2 of 2013. This convertible PC weighs just 1.64 pounds (745g) which is the same weight as the first 3G iPad. That’s the only comparison possible between the two devices because this Full-HD tablet is also a laptop that runs Windows 8 on a Core M CPU with a 128GB SSD.
The cost is high for this ruggedized convertible with a hot-swap battery but it could replace a desktop PC if you’re not into high-end video editing or gaming and the premium versions come with 512GB SSD and a 3-year warranty. We’re looking at imports at Dynamism.com and the cost starts at $1749 for a 128GB with 2 year warranty (RZ4A/128.) The premium model (Rz4A/512 with 8GB RAM, 512GB SSD faster Core M 5Y70, Windows 8.1 Pro and a 3-year warranty with accidental damage cover costs a heart-stopping $3799.90. Good engineering costs a lot of money, especially when it’s built to order.
“Despite its light weight and 0.77” (19.5mm) thickness, the RZ is designed to pass a 2.5-foot drop test and 220-pound pressure test. It’s ultra-durable, as well ultra-thin-and-light.”
We’ve asked Dynamism to give us details on whether this is fanless and the exact battery capacity in Wh and we’ll update when we get that information.
Update: There’s a fan. Battery capacity is 36Wh. We have a video hands-on by Mobilegeeks below.
The 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.
The guys over at Gottabemobile.com have found a video showcasing some of the intended applications of the new Panasonic CF-U1. The video is surprisingly high quality when it comes to scene and prop setups, but the acting is, dare I say, pathetic. Still, the video gives a pretty good idea of how the U1 is designed to be used; shown in the video is a wide range of industry applications. It’s a shame that Panasonic hasn’t spent time making a consumer oriented UMPC; the U1 is packed full of features but it has a premium price and is definitely on the bulky side. The video didn’t show any good keyboard use so we’ll have to wait and see how well that turns out. Something interesting to note in the video is the 4-bay battery charger, and confirmation that the batteries in the U1’s dual-battery bay are hot-swapable, meaning you will be able to swap out batteries without ever turning off the unit.
Edit: My apologies, video has been updated to the English version.
I dropped a quick line about the upcoming Panasonic Toughbook UMPC the other day, and now that more details are available it looks as though the device is actually shaping up to be a very well rounded piece of hardware. Before I start listing specs, lets keep in mind that this is a rugged ultra mobile PC that Panasonic says surpasses military specifications for hardware of this class, meaning that it can withstand a decent amount of punishment in the areas of shock, temperature, moisture, and others. Now to the good stuff.
The device is called the Toughbook U1, and is running a 1.33GHz Atom CPU. The only storage options are SSD flavored with your choice of 16GB or 32GB. The SSD only option makes sense enough; no moving parts in your storage medium means less components that could potentially break. The unit can also be equipped with 3G, either EV-DO or HSDPA. GPS is an option and of course there is the obligatory Wi-Fi and Bluetooth as well. Now for some of the more interesting features. Apparently the U1 is fan-less and will rely entirely on passive cooling to vent heat. Having an SSD surely cuts down on thermal output so this may be another reason that there is no HDD option. The efficient Atom CPU also contributes (or depending on how you look at it, doesn’t contribute) to the levels of heat that enable the U1 to forgo the fan all together. Probably the most interesting feature of the U1 is its dual batteries. Two battery slots which each hold a 2-cell battery enable the device to stay running while you swap out the battery that isn’t being utilized. This mean you could keep the machine running while swapping in as many batteries as you have. Panasonic says 3-4 hours of use for each battery which makes for a very nice 6-8 hours of use across both batteries. Expect to pay a premium price of around $2500 USD for this rugged UMPC.
It looks like Panasonic will be releasing that rugged Atom-based ultra mobile PC in the near future. Engadget is reporting that the unit will have a 5.6″ touch-screen, QWERTY thumb keyboard split with a numerical number pad, and unfortunately will be running Vista. I hope they managed to reinforce the touch screen, otherwise it will easily be the most vulnerable part of the UMPC. The device, which was previewed at CeBIT and IDF this year, is said to be getting pricing information and detailed specs on Wednesday of this week. We’ll keep you updated as more info becomes available.