Panasonic ToughPad FZ-G1

Tablets for government: Panasonic ToughPad FZ-G1

The tablet has become an integral part of the mobile plans of many agencies, complementing and, in  some cases, even replacing laptop and desktop PCs. Different models of tablets have different strength and weaknesses, and which one is right for your agencies depends on your own needs. This week, we take a close look at five popular tablets and what they offer agencies.

What we considered

Battery life

How long will it last when unplugged from a power source? Are optional spare batteries easily removable and replaceable?

Processing power

Does it have a powerful processor and enough memory to open large documents, use high-performance apps or run multiple programs at the same time?

Security features

What kind of authentication is available? Are there FIPS-certified encrypted drive spaces or secure containers for BYOD users?

Ruggedness

If it’s designed to be rugged, how rugged is it? Can it pass MIL-STD 810G tests for temperature, shock, liquid and particle intrusion?

Panasonic’s ToughPad FZ-G1 is a Windows 8 Pro tablet rugged enough to be used in practically any environment. But when multiple options are in use, its power consumption might be an issue. Depending on the configuration, prices can range from $2,100 to $3,500.

What works for government agencies

In a rugged setting, the FZ-G1 offers powerful performance typical of Toughbook line. It has an Intel i5vPro processor, 4G of RAM and runs 64-bit Windows 8 Pro, with a downgrade option for Windows 7.

In addition to the expected USB 3.0 port and headphone jack, the FZ-G1 also has an HDMI port. This makes it very useful for briefings and presentations not only on the front lines, but also back at headquarters.

The 10.1-inch 10-point multitouch display is a good middle ground between smaller lighter tablets and larger attempts at desktop replacement. When ruggedness is a primary concern, a display can only be so big before it starts to fail testing. The FZ-G1 has corner guards made of elastomer that end up functioning as a bezel behind which the display is actually recessed, helping protect it from harm.

Panasonic wouldn’t have named the FZ-G1 a “ToughPad” unless it was durable. It passed MIL-STD 810G tests for altitude, extreme temperatures, rain, humidity, sand/dust, vibration and shock. After passing these tests, it was given an Ingress Protection rating of IP65, which means it can withstand everything short of full immersion.

In particular, the FZ-G1 passed shock tests when dropped from not only the standard height of four feet, but also five and six feet. What’s more, even though the MIL-STD allows the substitution of up to five units for each drop test, the FZ-G1 passed all of the drop tests with the same unit. This level of ruggedness would make the ToughPad ideal for military use or any other work in severe conditions.

The ToughPad supports Trusted Platform Model 1.2, includes Computrace theft protection and, for those agencies requiring two-factor authentication, Panasonic offers an optional smart-card reader.

What might not work for government agencies

The magnesium alloy case that allows the FZ-G1 to pass all of those rugged tests with flying colors also makes it weigh 2.5 pounds. As rugged tablets go, that’s pretty light, but it can still make it hard to hold for long periods.

Of course, users won’t be holding it for very long if it runs out of juice. The lithium-ion battery can last up to eight hours under optimal circumstances. But active users of the wireless or optional 4G LTE connection and the optional dedicated GPS while running several apps will drain the power in a few hours. For jobs with regular access to power or docking stations, this won’t be an issue, but for more remote jobs some active power management might be necessary to get the FZ-G1 to last long enough.

And for jobs where ruggedness is paramount, the ToughPad is worth its weight.

MORE: 5 tablets for government

About the Author

Greg Crowe is a former GCN staff writer who covered mobile technology.

Reader Comments

Fri, Jul 12, 2013 C. Dehnert

It should be noted that, unlike many other tablets, the Toughpad FZ-G1 has a user-replaceable battery. Adding a fresh battery can be done in seconds, minimizing any workflow interruptions. [Comment offered by individual that provides PR support to Panasonic]

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