Panasonic debuts new FirstNet-ready Toughbook

Panasonic on Monday introduced its newest version of the semi-rugged Toughbook mobile computer, with optional 4G LTE connectivity and certified for AT&T’s FirstNet first responder communications platform.

The Toughbook 55 was built with a modular design to support diverse needs of public safety and government clients, according to Panasonic, and features more than 50 enhancements over its predecessor the Toughbook 54.

When it comes to first responder customers, Panasonic System Solutions Marketing Manager Cristina Yamane told FierceWireless that the number one device feature concern for public safety personnel is wireless connectivity.

This version of the Toughbook supports FirstNet Band 14 spectrum and is approved for use on FirstNet, AT&T’s dedicated first responder network. This is Panasonic’s third FirstNet-ready device and in addition, also supports Panasonic’s own P.180 wireless platform.  

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“For our public safety [customers] it’s very important to have Band 14, so we have the optional EM7511 module,” Yamane said.

AT&T last month said that Band 14 had been deployed in about 650 markets, with the FirstNet build out about 65% complete and on track to finish 70% by year-end. By mid-August, FirstNet surpassed 750,000 connections and nearly 9,000 public safety agencies were subscribed to the platform.

In terms of laptop devices, a second significant feature for emergency responders, according to Panasonic, is backward compatibility. Many Toughbook devices are installed in vehicles, like police cars, and embedded customers already have infrastructure in place, such as docking stations, that they can still use without needing to take a vehicle out of the field for installation.

Unsurprisingly, more than the average customer, battery life is key concern for public safety personnel. Some customers may have the same device used across multiple shifts, and the new Toughbook offers up to 20 hours of battery life standard and up to 40 hours with an optional second battery.

“Each year, we spend hundreds of hours with customers across industries so that we can anticipate the trajectory of their digital transformations and best support them throughout,” said Brian Rowley, Vice President of Marketing and Product Management, Panasonic System Solutions Company of North America, in a statement. “The Toughbook 55 is shaped by our customers’ voice and delivers the customization, modularity, extended battery life, and configurations they need today and tomorrow.”

Some additional features of Panasonic’s latest Toughbook device include:

  • Modular and customizable design with up to 12 expansion packs, including RFID readers, keyboards, smart card readers, and fingerprint readers, among others.
  • Up to 64 GB memory and 2 TB of storage
  • Tetra-array microphones for speech recognition accuracy  
  • USB Type-C port, HDMI 2.0 and Bluetooth 5.0