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ROUGH-AND-TUMBLE LAPTOPS

DOES YOUR LAPTOP LEAD A HARDER LIFE THAN MOST? If you want a notebook you can really bang around, you might consider the rugged ToughBook 71 from Panasonic (800 662-3537). Its all-magnesium case and hefty carrying handle look strong enough to jump on, though I didn't actually try it. The keyboard is protected by a spill-resistant membrane between the keys and the electronic innards, and the 4-gigabyte hard drive is mounted in a special gel for shock protection. The ToughBook comes with a 266 MHz Pentium II processor and 32 megabytes of RAM. A multimedia bay can hold either a floppy drive or a CD-ROM.

The sturdy design has a price. At $3,499, the ToughBook 71 is relatively expensive, and it is fairly heavy at 6.4 pounds. The active-matrix display is just 12.1 inches, while most notebooks in this price class come with a 13.3-inch or 14.1-inch screen. BUt the smaller display leaves room for a wide protective bezel around the edges of the screen.

Like its predecessor, the CF-25, the ToughBook 71 is likely to prove popular with law-enforcement agencies and the military. If your needs are less demanding but you would like some extra damage resistance in a laptop, you could consider the ToughBook 35 or 45, which feature magnesium lids and shock-mounted disk drives.




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PHOTO: Panasonic ToughBook 71 Laptop Computer

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Updated Sept. 17, 1998 by bwwebmaster
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