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Review: Panasonic Toughbook G2

The Panasonic Toughbook G2 is a mobile, ultra-durable, and modular device that is designed for professionals who work in the field. The designers and engineers at Panasonic set out to deliver a device with both world-class durability and the capacity to adapt to a variety of use-cases. So, were they able to deliver on the rugged-yet-fluid concept? And did they have to sacrifice anything in the process? Let’s find out.

I used the device in the field over the course of several months to test its ability to hold a charge, respond on the fly, stand up to the wear and tear of forest work, and more.

Specifications

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The G2 is a 2-in-1 design that replaces the G1 model, which had very strong a 7-year run. Release updates to the internals will probably be annual to semi-annual but the design and product name will remain the same.

So, the internal specs on the G2 are likely to change, but things like the screen size, expansion areas, and other aspects of the form may not. That said, we’ll start with the launch internals and go around the whole device.

  • OS: Windows 10 Pro or Windows 11
  • Processor: Intel® Core™ i5 or i7
  • RAM: 16 GB or 32 GB
  • Storage: 1 TB SSD OPAL or 512 GB SSD OPAL
  • Weight: 4.9 lbs. (2.9 lbs. without keyboard)
  • Ports: LAN, USB 3.0 A and 3.0 C with power delivery, and several optional ports, like dual SIM.
  • 2 MP 1080p front webcam with facial recognition
  • 8 MP back camera
  • 4G or 5G option

With the keyboard that came with the test unit, there is one additional USB-C and one USB-A port.

Screen

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The G2’s 10-inch touchscreen was engineered for outdoor use in all conditions. That means rain, bright sunlight, and freezing temperatures (when you’ll be wearing gloves). The brightness on this thing is truly impressive, and I could easily see my screen in bright sunlight with no straining or squinting. There is also a night mode for use in dim settings.

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I didn’t have any cold weather while testing the device, but I did confirm that it works fairly well while wearing screen-friendly gloves. But if you have thick wool mittens, there is a stylus as well.
While working in light or steady rain the touchscreen continues to perform as if it were dry.

Input registers nearly perfectly, meaning you can work in conditions that would previously have made any data capture extremely frustrating and time-consuming. If the rain really picks up, the screen does occasionally struggle to capture input totally accurately. So, if you’re in a hurricane you might not be able to type perfect notes.

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Case

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Around the screen, there are a few physical buttons. Three of these are programmable function buttons. Also included are:

  • Windows button
  • Volume up and down
  • Power
  • Screen rotation button

Keyboard

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The demo package came with a keyboard attachment, and Panasonic says the G2 is backward compatible with several older keyboards.

The keyboard is a little tight at first, and squeezing the tablet into the keyboard took some muscle. But, once it was in and locked in place, there was no way it was going anywhere.

The secure, locked-in connection between keyboard and device is critical for longevity. Many 2-in-1 devices have a simple plastic snap connection between the keyboard and computer, but these can wear out over time as the device wiggles around. That’s not happening with this keyboard. It is definitely built to last. The keys can be illuminated if you’re in a low-light setting.

Battery

I noticed the battery on the G2 was lasting days at a time during testing and did some research. Apparently, Panasonic specializes in batteries, and it shows. This device can easily stand 10 hours of heavy use, and it has a removable battery so you can carry an extra. So, if you’re doing a long shift of outdoor data collection without a way to charge your devices, this is one of the very few Windows devices that can keep up.

Expansion Areas

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These are what make the Toughbook G2 unique and are the biggest evolution from the G1. These expansion areas support removable, modular attachments that allow for specialized data collection and extend the device’s capabilities. Some examples of attachments that can be used in an expansion area are:

  • Barcode readers
  • Thermal cameras
  • Additional ports
  • SmartCard reader
  • Quick-release SSD (great for info-security/privacy)

These expansion areas allow the device to be customized for different use-cases or for a customer’s specific needs. Attachments in the expansion areas can be locked in the same way the keyboard is, so there is a secure connection.

Network

The Toughbook G2 comes with optional 4G LTE and 5G. The 5G model works on both Sub-6GHz and mmWave networks. Also, in the realm of wireless, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are standard on all G2 models. An internal GPS is optional as well.

Security

The G2 takes advantage of biometric technology with both retinal scanning and facial recognition with Windows Hello and a secure BIOS. One of the most common use-cases for an expansion area is the quick-release SSD for information security, allowing users to keep their data secure on their person, even when they leave the G2 behind.

Performance

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The Panasonic team was extremely confident in this device’s ability to take a beating. So, they asked me to truly put it through its paces: drops, spills, heat, lugging it on trails. And it held up.

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I drop-tested the Panasonic Toughbook G2 multiple times.

It took some intense drops that would have left other tablets shattered and in pieces. Of course, these falls left a few surface-level marks, but the device still performed flawlessly.

I also poured water on it – it held up. It was easy to dry off and continue to use.

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That said, the G2 comes with some trade-offs. A 10-inch screen leaves something to be desired in terms of real estate. And it’s not going to be running any resource-intensive software. This is very much a field data collection device.

The speakers might not impress any audiophiles, but they are crisp and clear and loud, with or without the keyboard in place. You could easily hear if you’re on a remote Zoom meeting.

Same idea with the graphics – everything looks nice, but you probably won’t want to run any games on this device.

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The Take-Away: The G2 Is Tough & Built to Last

Overall, I’m very impressed by the Panasonic G2. It is a decently powerful little 2-in-1 that can be trusted to not just survive, but continue to function in the worst conditions. Add to that the 5G capability, the battery life, and the ability to swap out sensors and storage, and you have possibly the most versatile rugged device on the market.

But this device has got it where it counts. It survived a 3-foot fall onto concrete and several falls from shoulder height onto the grass. The keyboard stayed attached, even when the device took some surface damage. There were no problems functioning when wet, either.

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Jeff Hill

Jeff is a staff writer at Durability Matters.

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