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By 9 November 2011 | Categories: news

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When we reviewed the Motorola XOOM a few months ago, it was the rugged durability of the tablet’s build quality that impressed us most. This week though, Panasonic has picked up the baton of creating a tablet that can survive environmental extremes, by announcing two new tablets that will fall under the hardy toughbook range.

The company explained that the 10.1” A1 Toughpad (not to be confused with HP’s discontinued Touchpad) will be released first early next year, with a 7” version to follow later next year. The A1 tablet will run on Android Honeycomb 3.2, boast a Marvell 1.2 GHz dual core processor, 1 GB of DDR 2 RAM and offer 16 GB of storage, which can be expanded up to 32 GB via a microSD card slot.

The tablet will further feature a capacitive multi-touch display with anti-reflective and anti-glare treatment with 500 nit of brightness, and ten hours battery life. Additionally, the device will accommodate a stylus and active digitizer for flexible data entry, along with a five megapixel back camera and two megapixel front one, while microUSB, microSDHC, and micro HDMI slots will be onboard.

Security first

As befitting a tablet targeted at business and the military, the Toughpad A1 will further incorporate security embedded at the hardware level and offer technologies including hardware and software encryption, enhanced VPN, dual factor authentication, trusted boot and device management.

Panasonic stressed that the new Toughpad family is designed to meet many of the same durability standards as Panasonic's Toughbook PC product line. Users can expect their tablet to be dust and water resistant, hold up under a broad range of temperatures and have a drop rating of 1.2 m.

Admittedly, the tablet is probably not going to be your average consumer’s first choice. However, for highly mobile outdoor workers in field like aviation, construction, field sales and the public sector, or if you’re Bear Grylls and want to play Angry Birds while stranded in the Amazon, then the Toughpad certainly looks like it will stand up to exposure to extreme environments.

The A1 is expected to be available early next year and have an RRP of $1299 (R10 100). Local pricing and availability has not been announced as yet.

Take a look at the video for a demonstration of the tablet being subjected to various forms of abuse.  

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