CES 2016: Panasonic introduces semi-rugged Windows 8.1 tablet, the Toughpad FZ-Q1

Mark Coppock

CES 2016 has been a hotbed of new Windows 10 hardware announcements. Whether it’s 2-in-1 machines, straight tablets, huge Windows 10 Mobile phablets, or accessories, Las Vegas has been hopping with Windows 10 news. Panasonic, however, decided to buck the trend, announcing the Toughpad FZ-Q1, an enterprise-grade ruggedized tablet running Windows 8.1.

Toughpad FZ-Q1 Base

The Toughpad FZ-Q1 is intended to flesh out the Toughpad line with a machine that’s durable but lower-spec’d than the typical high-end ToughPad. No reason is provided for Windows 8.1 and not Windows 10, but one can assume it’s for training and compatibility purposes–note that the machine can be downgraded to Windows 7 Professional for those organizations that are way behind the upgrade curve.

“When fully rugged notebooks were introduced, we slowly saw the demand grow for similar solutions that were less robust,” said Jan Ruderman, Vice President, Business Mobility Group, Panasonic System Communications Company of North America. “The tablet market is following this path, but at an accelerated pace. Many applications don’t require a fully rugged device, and as a result, businesses felt compelled to purchase consumer-grade solutions. Unfortunately, those tablets don’t provide the reliability, usability and security businesses require and consumer device manufacturers typically don’t have the sales and services infrastructure needed to support enterprise customers. The Toughpad FZ-Q1 meets the needs of businesses, in less demanding user environments, that want to experience the mobility and productivity benefits of a ruggedized tablet.”

The machine is offered with a Core i5 at the high end, and a Celeron N2807 as a low-end option. Durability is defined as designed for “light duty field work,” with a magnesium alloy chassis and shock-absorbing case. Dirt and dust resistance and a fanless design will help the FZ-Q1 function in messier environments.

Specs are moderate, with significant differences between the low-end and high-end models:

Touchpad FZ-Q1 Specs
Touchpad FZ-Q1 tablet specs.

Pricing is estimated at $999 for the Standard model, and $1,699 for the Performance model, and so at the lower end of what’s typically expected of rugged tablets. Shipping is expected in March.