Panasonic Toughbook FZ 55 Laptop Review

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9

Value for Money Score

9.0/10

Reliability Score

9.0/10

Performance Score

9.1/10

Specifications and Features Score

9.0/10

Design Score

9.1/10

Pros

  • Touchscreen
  • Backlit keyboard
  • Rugged yet lightweight
  • Good battery life
  • Loud dual speakers

Cons

  • No separate 10-key numeric keypad
  • Small touchpad
  • Meagre bass reproduction
  • Average color coverage
  • Pricey

Verdict

The Panasonic Toughbook FZ 55 is a semi-rugged laptop that can endure demanding environments, though not the harshest. It comes with a highly customizable design and several unique selling points, which are very welcome. However, this is not an inexpensive laptop but then it can go where others fear to tread.

Panasonic Toughbook FZ 55 Laptop & Variants Price

Introduction

Panasonic Toughbook FZ-55

The Panasonic Toughbook FZ 55 is the latest version that comes with a touch screen.

This makes navigating this light and semi rugged laptop quite easy. It also comes with a retracting handle making it easier to carry anywhere you feel like.

If you do not need it, you can easily remove it by undoing a few screws on its underside. This is one of the most reliable semi-rugged business laptops for mobile professionals.

It is light in weight, has a slim profile and assures an excellent and reliable performance. The modular design offers supreme versatility and customization options.

Adding to the reliability and ease in use is the standard backlit keyboard and a touchpad, which, unfortunately, is surprisingly small and has some issues with the clicks.

The battery life is pretty high in one, along with an option to carry another, thereby eliminating the chances of rendering the system unusable due to the battery running out of juice.

The inclusion of the fingerprint reader in the system makes it all the more secure to use outdoors allowing a safer and faster login.

It also allows you to configure some interfaces easily. The 4th USB, the 2nd LAN, the discrete graphics, all adds to its reliability, ease in use, and performance level.

Do not worry about the durability of the machine as it comes with military standard and IP certification for 3-feet drop, vibration, shock, dust, sand, altitude, humidity, freeze or thaw, and high or low temperature tests.

The inclusion of the caged storage drive and heater, user removable expansion packs, storage drive and quick-release battery in the durable magnesium alloy case makes it more reliable for long-time use.

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Buy for: Good keyboard, good quality and bright display, strong hinge, fast connectivity, fingerprint reader, good wi-fi recovering efficiency.

Beware of: Visible PWM frequency, mediocre performance of processor, grainy display, touchpad missing touch.

Design and Build

Right from the 14-inch display to the ports, everything included in the design and engineering of this computer is meant to last for long.

The display of the system comes with touch support delivering images at full HD resolution. It is viewable under sunlight for its 1000-nit strong brightness, but the images seem to be a bit grainy.

The 10-point touch sensitive screen responds to even the slightest of movements in the grid. It also supports glove mode.

There is a dedicated stylus pen holder integrated in the system design to ensure you do not lose it when not in use.

The keyboard comes with backlights and the keys have better tactility and travel distance to offer a better typing experience.

This customizable keyboard comes with more than 80 keys of which four keys are user-definable, it also comes with four adjustable levels of color and five specific backlit icons for Caps lock, Num Lock, Scroll Lock, SD card, and Storage Drive.

The electrostatic touchpad supports multi touch but needs some improvements to do away with the issues with its clicks and missing touches.

The best part about the modular design of the Toughbook is that it allows adding expansion packs, or xPAKS as Panasonic calls them, by the users as and when required on the fly in three distinct locations.

On the left side it is the DVD drive, the Blue Ray Disc, the graphics card, the contact Smart Card, and the 2nd SSD.

On the right side, it is the fingerprint scanner, 2nd battery, and the contact or contactless Smart Card.

Finally, at the back, it is the VGA/Serial/LAN, VGA/Serial/USB 3.1, and VGA/Serial/Fischer USB.

The overall chassis of the laptop is built from magnesium metal which is light in weight, easily available, conducts well, prevents electromagnetic waves, and is recyclable easily.

Performance

The performance of the latest 8th generation Intel Core i7 8665U is fairly high.

The base clock frequency of operation of this processor is at 1.9 GHz which can go as high as 4.8 GHz with the Turbo Boost technology to make out the most of the 8 MB cache of this vPro processor.

The dedicated AMD Radeon graphics card allows performing complex and graphics intensive computing tasks on this computer very easily.

It produces images fast with more precision and color reproduction, enhancing the overall performance of the device.

The Windows 10 Pro operating system makes the navigation and handling of your computational tasks much easier with its useful features and the 64-bit architecture.

Since you are already familiar with its features, you will not have much difficulty in the operation.

RAM & Storage

The memory of this device is user-upgradeable and has two slots.

If you want more than the original 16 GB of RAM, you can extend it up to 64 GB. This DDR4 memory comes with 2133 MT/s frequency that allows better multitasking.

The main SSD storage of the laptop is quite adequate and it allows storing a lot of files in the 512 GB space. This allows faster boot up of the system and apps as well.

Ports & Connectivity

There are a few integrated and optional ports that will allow you to connect several different external devices to this machine.

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These include two USB Type A 3.1 Gen 1 ports along with a third optional USB-A6 Type A port, one standard USB Type C 3.1 Gen 1 port with an option of Power Delivery Type C, one HDMI 2.0 port, one RJ 45 or Gigabit Ethernet port with an option for a 2nd LAN port, one micro SDXC card slot, and one 3.5 mm audio in-out combo jack.

Other options include 5-pin Core series Rugged Fischer USB, 15-pin VGA D-sub and 9-pin Serial True D-sub connectors. You may also include a 4FF nano-SIM.

All these ports are protected by a special cover that is not waterproof but snaps into place and can be replaced if it breaks.

You will get both wi-fi networking that supports Intel Wireless-AC 9560 or 802.11a/b/g/n/ac-standard to allow data transfer at a speed up to 1.7 Gbps and AES encryption up to 256-bit, as well as Bluetooth v5.0 Class 1 connectivity.

Battery Life

The lithium-ion battery of the system comes with an exceptional life.

With its typical 6500 mAh capacity, you can get a steady power supply for as long as 19 hours with one battery, and double that with a second.

The system comes with a Smart Battery technology that allows hot swap between the two batteries. Each of these batteries come with a charging time of 3 hours.

Additional Features

The system comes with an optional VGA apart from the serial ports which allows you to connect the system to a larger display as and when required.

There is also a DVD drive included in the system design, a feature which allows you to store and transfer files easily and quickly.

As for the audio, there are dual speakers integrated in the system that produces sound at more than 60 decibels using its Intel High-Definition Audio compliance feature.

The laptop is also equipped with a 1080p webcam with four mics and a privacy cover. It comes with infrared and Windows Hello support to add to the security.

The option to install a Blue Ray Disk by the user is also highly appreciable which will enhance your user experience.

It comes with common software packages and Panasonic Utilities including Dashboard and Recovery Partition.

It also includes driver packages such as CAB files and other Enterprise ready single-click driver bundles.

This specific model comes with a Panasonic warranty of three years on its parts and labor.

Specs:

  • Brand: Panasonic
  • Screen: 14 inches
  • Display: Full HD (1920 x 1080)
  • Storage: 512 GB
  • RAM: 16 GB
  • Storage Type: SSD
  • RAM Type: DDR4 SDRAM
  • Processor: 8th generation Intel Core i7 8665U
  • Graphics: AMD Radeon Pro WX 4150
  • Processor Speed: 1.90 GHz
  • Processor Brand: Intel
  • Product Dimensions: 10.7 x 13.6 x 1.3 inches
  • Operating System: Windows 10 Pro

What Do Users Think about Panasonic Toughbook FZ 55?

FZ-55 is a device that is almost perfect for business and personal use, suggested a few users.

It is especially good for those people who need to use a laptop in extremely demanding conditions outdoors.

Though a bit heavy for a 14-inch laptop, which is due to the rugged design, this device would have been more suitable for business usage if some minor edits were done by the maker, they felt.

Though a less rugged design and more responsive touchpad would have been more appreciated, other users had all good things to say about this device.

The battery life is exceptional, they felt, providing up to three to four times more life than others on an average even when used in relatively high nits with its dual batteries.

It gave them the full confidence to deal with their business computation needs, without having to worry about charging the system.

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Most of the users fell for its truly rugged design that eliminated the chances of any flex no matter how hard they clicked upon the keyboard.

The system as well as its input devices are very sturdy.

Barring a few issues, the backlit keyboard especially has long keystrokes and good feedback to offer an optimal typing experience. It is just like the traditional ThinkPad, they said.

The dual speakers are loud and are of good quality, ventilated other users.

They said that the sound output is not only decent for a rugged laptop but is as good as any other standard laptops in terms of performance.

Moreover, the bright display held firmly by a sturdy hinge is good enough to use the system outdoors and see the images clearly.

However, the somewhat grainy images and the visible PWM frequency causes some strain to the eyes when viewed for long hours.

The fast WWAN is what impressed some of the other users. Check out Toughbook FZ 55 Manual.

They said that with T-Mobile, data can be transferred at a speed of 40 to 50 Mbps on an average and at a high speed of up to 140 Mbps, which is almost three times as other computers.

It also has a very good and high wi-fi retrieval efficiency, which adds to its reliability, thanks to its more MIMO antenna, which makes it faster than any smartphone and most of the other laptops.

The touchscreen is good both in quality and responsiveness said some specific users, but the color coverage and accuracy are quite average.

The images look a bit white-washed, especially the brighter areas. Also, they said, the performance of the processor is nothing exceptional but mediocre.

However, this system is customizable and good to use for people who want to do some serious work outdoors under demanding settings.

There were a few users who specifically disliked the touchpad but liked everything else of this laptop.

They said it had a very narrow vertical scale and much wider horizontal size.

It is easy to miss it and therefore the desired output and efficiency are barely achieved.

They suggested that Panasonic should take up this issue seriously and rectify it either by changing the design of the touchpad entirely or repositioning it more to the left to enhance comfort and precision of typing.

Other Expert Views

This is perhaps the lightest and thinnest of laptops that belongs to the rugged and semi-rugged class, says Expert Reviews. The design, touch screen, inclusion of ports and expansion possibilities are unique, but for the small touchpad.

Better than the previous generations, investing on this laptop will save both time and resources, opined PCMag. The battery life is exceptional, but the screen quality could have been much better.

The latest Intel 8th generation processor, the graphics, and battery life gives this device a specific edge over its competitors and an unrivaled flexibility, said Laptop Mag. With extensive connectivity, it is more productive, if price is not a concern.

About Dominic Cooper

Dominic CooperDominic Cooper, a TTU graduate is a computer hardware expert. His only passion is to find out the nitty gritty of all computers. He loves to cook when he is not busy with writing, computer testing and research. He is not very fond of social media. Follow Him at Linkedin