Panasonic Debuts ToughPad for U.S. M&E Market
COW Library : Windows Hardware & Software : Debra Kaufman : Panasonic Debuts ToughPad for U.S. M&E Market
Panasonic just unveiled the Toughpad 4K tablet, a "business-rugged" 20-inch tablet with a 4K-resolution display. Powered by an Intel Core i5-3437U vPro processor, Toughpad runs on the Windows 8.1 Pro operating system and features a 3840x2560 pixel display, a 20-inch IPS Alpha LCD screen featuring 230 pixels per inch, a 15:10 aspect ratio and wide viewing angles. In addition to the media & entertainment market, Toughpad is aimed at other professions requiring high-resolution imagery and collaboration, including architecture, design, photography, museums and the medical field.
Bergeron notes that earlier Panasonic tablets were all Windows-based; as Google and Windows operating systems evolved specific to tablets, Panasonic took advantage of this, as well as other new technologies. "We found we were able to produce a reasonably small 4K LCD display," he recounts. "We showed the first one at CES and a lot of people thought we could make a really spectacular tablet with that. It was a challenge; they threw down the gauntlet."
Then there's the ruggedness factor. "When most people think of tablets, they think they can be easily broken," says Bergeron. "Nobody has put out a fully ruggedized tablet that could survive a 4 foot drop or could be used in a driving rain storm."
That doesn't mean you can drop the Toughpad 4K off a cliff. "At the Toughpad factory, they decided to make one that was business-rugged, which is not military ruggedization but is much stronger than people expect to see from a tablet," he says. With a magnesium alloy chassis in a reinforced glass fiber case, Toughpad can handle a 30-inch drop to its back while operating, and 12-inch drops to 26 angles when non-operational. At the same time, the Toughpad is slim and lightweight, weighing 5.27 pounds and measuring 0.49-inch thick.
Another feature of particular interest to the M&E market is the NVIDIA GeForce 745M GPU. "Now you have the power of that GPU available to you," Bergeron says. "What we've been finding is that applications that use the GPU, like Assimilate Scratch, runs better on the Toughpad than it does on our larger computers. And the fact that it runs at all on a tablet is remarkable." Panasonic is also in conversations with Adobe to utilize the GPU of Toughpad for Adobe Creative Suite and Creative Cloud, and with post facility Light Iron, which is heavily involved in on-site dailies and 4K production. "Light Iron offers TODAILIES, which are dailies produced on the fly during production viewable over WiFi with iPads," he says. "Everyone would like to see that on a bigger, better screen, so we're hoping there can be a 4K version of TODAILIES utilizing the tablet."
Also differentiating itself from an iPad, the Toughpad 4K offers more robust media IO options. "The Toughpad does have a full-sized SD slot and full-sized USB slot so it'll be easy to get media in and out, and with large files, that's important," Bergeron says. "The Micro P2 cards have the same form factor as SD, so we may get some synergies with the Micro P2 and the AVC Ultra as well. We look forward to testing them."
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M&E creatives who might want to use a tablet as a drawing pad are also in luck. In addition to its 10-point multi-touch input, the Toughpad 4K comes with an optional Panasonic Electronic Touch Pen, which offers a pen-and-paper-like feel for freehand sketching, annotation or handwriting. The pen uses infrared signals to distinctly read each pixel on the screen and communicates with the tablet via Bluetooth; it can be held from various angles and can interpret more than 2,000 levels of pressure.
The Toughpad also offers a 1280 x 720 pixel built-in front camera and two hours battery life per MobileMark 2007 testing. Combined with the optional Panasonic desktop cradle, which offers USB 3.0 x3, Ethernet and HDMI-output connectivity, the tablet can be used as a desktop PC and tablet.
Bergeron wants media & entertainment professionals to know that the Toughpad is more rugged than the iPad but that, more importantly, the display is "the highest resolution display available from anyone on any device... not withstanding giant LED boards." In fact, the panel comes from the same factory where Panasonic manufactures its new BT-4LH310, a 31-inch 4096 x 2160 resolution LCD monitor for 4K/2K monitoring. That 4K 10-bit IPS panel displays native 4K resolution and reproduction of up to 1.07 billion colors.
"The Toughpad's color reproduction should be significantly better than what you get on a consumer device like an iPad," says Bergeron. "A lot of people have been using iPads to make color decisions because of the convenience. We're hoping we can give them another alternative. Because if your content is 4K, you want to show it in 4K, and we're still in a world where it's still difficult to find something that can display 4K."
At a list price of just under $6,000, the Toughpad 4K may be priced well enough to be a tool for a wide range of M&E positions, from a marketing/sales executive who can show a company reel in 4K to in-the-field production people. Studios and film production companies might want to lend them to directors on location, because the Toughpad 4K display is worlds better -- and more accurate -- than anything they're going to see on the hotel TV set. In an environment in which the 4K pipeline is still in its infancy, the Toughpad 4K makes one important part of the 4K infrastructure a reality.
At IFA 2013, Panasonic showed its Toughpad UT-MB5. The 20-Inch-Tablet comes with Ultra HD (4K), that is 3.840 x 2.560 Pixels. This device aims at Professionals in Engineering and Design. Specs: Core i5-3437U vPro-Prozessor (1,9 GHz) and GeForce GT 745M. YouTube video by Notebookcheck.