Panasonic debuts Toughpad FZ-A1 tablet

Panasonic has announced a new rugged 10.1in tablet, the Toughpad FZ-A1, packing Android 3.2 'Honeycomb' and expected to be priced at just under £90, reports The Inquirer.

With other tablets such as HP's TouchPad and RIM's PlayBook finding it difficult to break into a market still dominated by the Apple iPad 2, the Japanese company is pinning its hopes on the tablet's ruggedised construction - it's effectively a tablet version of Panasonic's Toughbook laptops - to help the product stand out when it's launched in early 2012.

The Toughpad FZ-A1 looks set to include a 1.2GHZ ARM-based Marvell CPU, combined with 1GB of RAM and a storage capacity of around 16GB; though it seems likely that Panasonic would make a few variants available with differing storage capacities.

The firm also says that a 7in version of the Toughpad is planned for later in the year.

MD at Panasonic, Hiroaki Sakamato, says of the device: "Now users in business and industry can also benefit from the ease of use and portability of tablet computing. Toughpad takes all the Toughbook experience of rugged computing we have gained since 1996 and focuses it into tablets designed for the workplace."

The Toughbook line of laptops on which this tablet is based are resistant to vibration, dropping, spills, rough handling and even extreme temperatures. They were first marketed to the military but found themselves a popular accessory in the public sector for those that happened to need a computer in remote of inhospitable locations.

Presumably if their tablet is similarly rough and ready, it would fill a certain niche that is not at all filled by the iPad and its contemporaries.