Panasonic Toughbook CF-W2

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The Panasonic CF-W2 was the first of Panasonic’s executive toughbooks introduced in 2004. The current version (CF-W8) is just fractionally larger and has the CD/DVD drive on the other side. These machines sell new at over £1,000 top spec.

I like this machine because: it small and very light (netbook format) and sips power which means that with new batteries you're looking at four to six hours run time. Its 'no-fans' design make it reliable and its toughbook heritage makes it very durable and yet it still looks like a professional notebook unlike Panasonic’s other rather industrial toughbooks.

You can pour water into the keyboard (with care); walk on it (with the cover closed) without damaging the screen and drop whilst running. However BEWARE as CF-W2 disk drives are old now and not as shock resistant as once they were. I changed mine for a brand new Toshiba 100 Gig PATA (CF-W2 isn’t SATA I’m afraid) but the swap requires cutting pins disk interface as the IDE interface isn’t 5V compatible. A very useful how to do it article <a href="">here</a>, not for the beginner.

Downside: Panasonic make 'industrial' reliability laptops, which means that even new models have fairly pedestrian processor performance. Also small size = small screen. Install XP on your purchased machine, nothing later. Some of the chips are Panasonic specific and so you'll have fun and games finding and installing the right drivers, they're all there on the Panasonic website but still requires a detective to get the right one and takes ages. If your machine was offered with “no sound” then chances are the driver has not been installed correctly or at all. No Linux drivers I'm afraid. Some trivial plastic parts like the hinge covers fall off easily and so are usually always missing with 2nd user sales. Don't worry though, you don't need them.

Things to watch for: Get the late model CF-W2F (mk6) as Panasonic, like other manufacturers, always move on to the next model once they've got the old model right. Loads of these for sale with US keyboards. If you can do without the pound key get one of these because the UK (and other country) models have an unusably small space-bar. Get one that hasn't been beat to hell because these models usually still work after a truck run them over but they look a mess. Usual things study keyboard wear in detailed pictures. Touch pad far too shiny also means a lot of wear.

Truly rugged laptop, but the devil is in the detail !

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