Gear We Love

Gear We Love: Panasonic Toughbook

Throughout this field season, working in the Outamba section of Outamba Kilimi National Park, Sierra Leone, I used a Toughbook CF-33: A waterproof, shockproof, field work proof laptop/tablet.

The Toughbook excelled all expectations; extreme temperatures and 100% humidity were no feat for the laptop/tablet. The Toughbook experienced it all this field season… as it changed into the rainy season the Toughbook got wet, covered in dust, dropped in the dirt and played with by hundreds of people. The Toughbook met every challenge with no question of its resilience or capabilities. A versatile machine, it is possible to use the tablet element without the base keyboard even attached. The touch screen is very responsive even with wet or dirty fingers. It has an anti-reflective high brightness outdoor display and a long-standing battery life whether connected to the dock or not. The handle is connected to the base of the Toughbook, it is comfortable and makes it easy to carry without necessarily having to put the machine in a bag.

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The house we lived in in Sierra Leone ran off solar power that on cloudy days was low, or non-existent – the Toughbook contains twin swappable batteries meaning the Toughbook can last around 20 hours. This was perfect for the four of us – we could all charge our GPS units, sound recording units, sat phones, cameras and phones off one full charge of the Toughbook. The many ports helped facilitate this. 

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Headquarters, where we lived, was across the river from the national park which meant daily trips were taken in a dug-out, unbalanced canoe. While the other researchers fought over dry bags and worried for the safety of their laptops (and data) I was able to confidently take the Toughbook wherever I was comfortable taking myself; through swamps, across rivers, into villages, schools and forests.

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Part of my data collection meant sitting outside for hours on end in one spot observing curious wild monkeys and other wildlife. Regardless of the weather conditions this was possible with the Toughbook in tow. During previous research like this, as rains start, laptops go into dry bags and data collection is done with waterproof paper and pencils. This field season, using the Toughbook I only had to enter the data once: straight into Excel. 

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My fears of breaking a donated machine quickly subsided when I saw just how tough the Toughbook really was. I recommend this type of Panasonic machine to anyone working outside.

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Thank you to Panasonic for providing the Pan Verus Project with the perfect field equipment.

By Chloë Chesney

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