Panasonic “Design is Really Tough” Book

Panasonic makes some coolstuff.

And sometimes they don’t.

I ran across a banner ad on Hack a Day that caught my eye. Why? Because it showed an otherwise unremarkable laptop with a round trackpad.


Round trackpad?

It is a Panasonic Toughbook. That particular page has its own bit of design humor. Roll the pointer over the laptop picture and it moves around. Sorta neat. Now, roll slowly to the right to try and click the virtual showroom. I can almost hear the text scream “No! Please! Don’t click me!” as it turns red and shuffles right out from under my mouse pointer.

So, chase down that text and click on it. Then click through to the photo gallery.

Yup. A circular trackpad. Because, you know, you never really need to track diagonally or, like, do some kinda scrolly-wheel simulation along the edges. Overrated, that.

Better yet, the optical drive is accessed through a lid like thing to the right of the trackpad. Well, almost to the right. The lid lifts a chunk of the funky surround around the pad. But, wait! The lid only exposes about 60% of the media. For protection, the whole area is surrounded by little pointy bits to give you some nice tactile feedback as you grind that disc into place. Because, of course, when I’m shoving a hunk o’ Pixar goodness into my laptop at 30,000 feet to keep my kid quiet on that cross country flight, I really want to slide that disc right across plastic pointy bits so my son can enjoy a scratcheriffic custom remix of Monsters, Inc.

For added convenience, the audio jacks are placed just to the left and right of the latch along the front of the computer. Nothing like typing and padding with a nice cushion of coiled up headphone cables to cradling your wrists. If this laptop is anything like just about every other piece of electronic equipment ever made (including some early models of iPods), the audio jack will probably break pretty fast from all the wrist slams thus eliminating the need to have cables in your way.

Battery life and weight is pretty sweet, though. I definitely have batt life envy about now.

And the laptop marketing chick is hot. The Tough Dude looks sorta fireman-esque, and my wife tells me that’s hot. So, bonus points for marketing, but they could have scored more if it had been a fire axe instead of a big wrench.

3 Responses to “Panasonic “Design is Really Tough” Book”

  1. John C. Randolph says:

    Rumor has it that these panasonic laptops are somewhat more shock-resistant than the average, but they still run Windows, so what’s the point?


  2. bbum says:

    Yeah. I’d like to see that pop-top style CD/DVD drive deal with any kind of abuse. Especially given that it extends to the corner. One good drop on the corner and I would lay money on that thing not closing or opening correctly ever again.

    I recently dropped my powerbook (actually, it jumped off the back of my bike at about 15mph). On the optical drive corner (front right). There is this big hunk o’aluminum bent and sticking out from the front of the machine directly above the optical drive slot. Yet, the machine still completely works. And I have this neat metally twangy thing to play with in meetings.

  3. psu says:

    The best thing about Japanese laptops is that they care about *small*. I dream of having a 2lb travel laptop that I use mostly to put pictures into. But I’ve never been able to find one that wasn’t a Japanese import or something, much less anything that will run macos

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