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A Review of the Panasonic Toughbook S9 Laptop Computer

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A Review of the Panasonic Toughbook S9 Laptop Computer
Panasonic

The Bottom Line

The Panasonic Toughbook S9 laptop computer is a solid little performer. While not as slim as an Apple MacBook Air, it's probably a heck of a lot stronger. The Panasonic Toughbook S9 is a good choice for business travelers that are hard on their electronics. It is designed to take a range of punishment, from spills to drops to pressure and keep working. It also has optional integrated wireless broadband for on-the-go connectivity. If you're looking for the cheapest, smallest laptop, this isn't it. But if you want a rugged, well-designed lightweight laptop with a reliable warranty, the Panasonic Toughbook S9 is it.

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Pros

  • Lightweight and relatively small
  • Tough. Made to withstand drops, spills and accidents
  • Good sized keyboard
  • DVD drive built-in
  • Three-year warranty

Cons

  • Plastic-y feel on case, but it seems like the design, and it is remarkably resilient

Description

  • 12.1" screen with integrated DVD drive
  • Intel Core i5-520M vPro processor
  • Up to 11 hours battery
  • Weighs only 3.0 pounds
  • Design to survive a 30" drop from a desk while operating
  • Spill-resistant keyboard design protects against up to 6 ounces of liquid
  • Can withstand up to 200 pounds of pressure
  • Integrated Wi-FI a/b/g/n, Bluetooth
  • Optional Gobi2000 mobile broadband for use with cell phone carriers,320 GB shock-mounted flex-connect hard drive
  • Microsoft Window s7, HDMI and VGA video outputs, 11.1" by 8.3 by .9-1.5", List price $2,499

Guide Review - A Review of the Panasonic Toughbook S9 Laptop Computer

The Panasonic Toughbook S9 laptop computer is a solid little performer. While not as slim as an Apple MacBook Air, it's probably a heck of a lot stronger. The Panasonic Toughbook S9 is a rugged, lightweight laptop designed to withstand a range of abuse that a typical (if not clumsy) business traveler might inflict on it during a trip.

Spilled some coffee on it? Don’t worry. Dropped during carry-on luggage check? Don't worry. Let a baggage handler squished it under 200 pounds of suitcases? Don't worry.

From drops to spills to pressure, the Panasonic Toughbook S9 is designed to handle it. The laptop is built around a magnesium alloy case and chassis, with shock-mounted flex-connect hard drives that help absorb bumps and drops. Panasonic claims the computer can be dropped from over two feet while operating (I only tried about 18 inches—it made me too nervous!). I didn't try soaking the keyboard with 6 ounces of water, but I believe the laptop could handle it. All-in-all, it's an impressively tough little machine in a reasonably lightweight and compact size.

The keyboard has a nice solid feel. It's slim (as you would expect), but is wide and has a relatively normal feel. Keys are arranged well, with separate arrow keys on the right, and a dedicated home/end key. The space bar was a little narrow for my taste, but still very useable. The trackpad is a little weird. It's round (usually they're square or rectangular). It had a nice response, but the mouse keys felt a bit mushy to me. Again, not bad and very useable. Other controls are arranged in a logical order.

In my tests, battery life was excellent. In fact, I didn’t have enough time to wear the battery completely down, which is an excellent sign. It also held its charge very well. After using it for hours, I put it away for over a week, and still had more than six hours remaining. Not bad at all.

Performance was good. Although I wasn't running anything other than standard office applications, the computer responded quickly and never seemed to bog down. Better than all the netbooks I've tested, and better than many low-end laptops. As usual, additional memory can certainly help speed things up.

The integrated Wi-Fi worked well, and connected easily to my networks, both in the office and on the road. I also tried out the integrated broadband service and found it worked well.

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Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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