Toughpad FZ-M1: One tough tablet

Toughpad FZ-M1: One tough tablet

The last time we tested one of Panasonic's military-grade Toughbooks was quite a while back - and boy, did our review unit take a beating that time, since we were encouraged to (and actually did) splash water on it, drop it from three to five feet, stand on it, and even put it in the oven.

That Toughbook came out of it with only a dented latch, which was easily replaced.

This time around, Panasonic passed us their latest rugged product, a seven-inch tablet known as the Toughpad FZ-M1.

While most companies will give you a seveninch Android device running on some quad-core ARM processor, the FZ-M1 is a more ­powerful machine than that - in fact, it runs a full version of Windows 8.1 Professional and is powered by a fourth-generation Intel Core i5-4302Y CPU at 1.6GHz.

This means that the FZ-M1 is essentially a full-blown touchscreen Windows 8.1 PC, except in a tablet-sized body.

Read on as we put the device through its paces.

Durability by design

One of the interesting features of the FZ-M1 is not only that Panasonic managed to shoe-horn an Intel Core i5 processor into the device, but that the thing operates completely using passive cooling techniques - the fanless design was essential to keep the FZ-M1 water resistant, since any air ducts would also open the device up to water.

The one downside is that when the FZ-M1's CPU is working hard, the back does get a little hot - though not uncomfortably so.

I guess if you live in a country with cold winter months, the FZ-M1 can act as a handy little hand warmer as you're using it.

However, under a light load, the FZ-M1 runs pretty cool so there shouldn't be a problem.

Talking about design, the FZ-M1 has a body built to last - it's mostly made of magnesium alloy with a rubber frame around the entire thing to help absorb some impact and keep water and dust out.

The device conforms to IP65 standards, which means that it's totally dustproof and reasonably splashproof - it can take low-pressure water jets directed at the device, but you can't dunk it completely in water.

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