Need a tough tablet? Try Panasonic's Toughpad FZ-B2

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Need a tough tablet? Try Panasonic's Toughpad FZ-B2

Toughened tablets and notebooks aren't for everyone. They're expensive, but the potential savings don't just come from the reduced need for repair or replacement following rough handling, there's also the benefit of reduced downtime and spending less time and money on the logistics of moving replacements to and from the worksite.

Panasonic's new 7in Toughpad FZ-B2 runs the older (but more understood) Android 4.4 and has a relatively generous 2GB of RAM and 32GB of storage. Prices start at $1599.

The FZ-B2 is drop tested to 150cm - a considerable improvement on the 76cm for the Toughbook CF-AX2 convertible ultrabook - and the IP65 ingress protection rating means rain, puddles and dust shouldn't be an obstacle to continuing work.

The operating temperature range goes from -10 to +50°C. For comparison, the iPad Air 2 is limited to 0 to +45°C.

That 1280 by 800 pixel, 7in screen is said to be designed for indoor and outdoor use, with high contrast and brightness plus an anti-reflection layer. The ambient light sensor that allows the screen brightness to adapt to the conditions also helps the battery life: Panasonic claims up to seven hours from a 2.5 hour charge.

802.11ac (ie, fast) Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 are standard, along with a full-sized USB 3.0 port and a microSD slot.

There's the usual two-camera arrangement, with 2MP up front and 5MP at the rear, as well as a wide variety of options including 2D barcode reader, smartcard reader, 4G, vehicle pass through antenna and hot-swappable battery, plus accessories such as a desktop cradle, vehicle dock, multi battery charger, rotating hand strap, carry case and capacitive touchscreen pen.

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