Panasonic Toughbook CF-W2 eLite Ultraportable Notebook Review pics, specs

Panasonic Toughbook CF-W2 eLite Ultraportable Notebook Review pics, specs

Overview The Panasonic Toughbook W2isn’t terribly new, but they have recently added a flash of color to the lineup with the new eLite series. The lids now come in scratch resistant black, red, silver and white, but you wouldn’t know it from Panasonic’s website which doesn’t promote these new flavors in the least. The W2 is still strong though, the full magnesium alloy case makes the W2 the most durable ultra portable on the market. Toss in the shock mounted hard drive and a weight of only 2.8 pounds, the W2 is quite popular amongst business travelers all over the world.

The model I tested includes the following specs:

  • Intel Pentium M ULV 713 Processor (1.1 MHz)
  • 40GB 4200 RPM HDD
  • 256MB RAM (Expandable to 768MB)
  • 12.1″ 1024×768 XGA anti-glare TFT LCD
  • Intel 855GM integrated video controller
  • PCMCIA card slot
  • Secure Digital card slot
  • Integrated CD-RW/DVD-ROM drive
  • 85-key keyboard with dedicated Windows key
  • Round touchpad with vertical scrolling support
  • Two USB 2.0 jacks, monitor (15-pin) out, stereo for headphones/speakers, microphone input, 10/100 Ethernet (RJ-45), 56k modem (RJ-11)
  • Intel Pro Wireless 2200BG
  • Lithium battery pack (6600 mAh)
  • 3-year limited warranty
  • Dimensions: 1.2/1.6″ h x 10.6″ w x 8.3″ d
  • Weight: 2.8 pounds

Form & Design: From a design perspective, Panasonic is pretty far ahead of the pack. As mentioned, the lids in the new eLite series come in several colors, something only rivaled by Sony’s special edition notebooks. The magnesium alloy cases are often seen in lids to protect the LCD panel, but not as commonly found in the entire body like the W2. Throw in a shock mounted hard drive, rarely seen outside of IBM and a unique touchpad and optical drive integration and you have a uniquely designed notebook that is more about function that show, but does both well.

The front of the W2 has a power slider in the lower left corner, good to ensure powering on is intentional. There are a series of several LED lights that indicate battery, optical drive access, HDD acces, etcetera. The switch in the middle is the hinge release that is very strong and secure. I tried prying on the sides of the display to get the hinge to pop open to no avail.

On the left side of the W2 is the power plug, video out, dual USB ports, microphone input, headset out and DVD tray release.

The right side features a Secure Digital card slot, PCMCIA slot with retractable door, and Ehternet and modem ports covered with rubber doors.

The lid of the W2 is magnesium alloy and now comes in four colors, including black seen here.

The bottom of the W2. The extra RAM slot is under the panel on the right side.

The W2 has the most unique optical drive integration on the market. The lid pops out of the wrist rest when the switch on the left side of the unit is triggered. Of course the drive isn’t replaceable, but an optical drive in a unit of this size is quite an accomplishment.ScreenThe W2 offers a standard ratio 12.1″ display with 1024×768 pixels. It’s not using an enhanced display, which is now common in ultra portables; rather Panasonic has opted to go with an anti-glare model that performs reasonably well outside. It offers 20 brightness levels, which is a little too much control for me. The difference between two levels isn’t that great, so it will generally take several notches to make the desired backlight difference.

The screen is evenly lit and my test unit had no deal pixels or other defects. The W2 has a wide viewing angle, which is nice if you need to huddle around the notebook with a few associates to review a presentation or other information. It also supports external monitors with resolutions up to 1600×1200.I’ve grown used to the enhanced display in my day-to-day Fujitsu P7000and find it hard to go back to a standard screen. I expect more fun out of my computer though, watching movies and even light game playing. The W2 can still do those things; it’s just a bit more serious in nature. The display is great for standard productivity tasks, but if you want something that is going to be more entertainment oriented, the W2 is probably not a good match.

Processor and Performance

The W2 comes with Intel’s ULV (ultra low voltage) Pentium Mobile 1.1 GHz processor. Panasonic should be refreshing the W2 soon with the 1.2 MHz CPU from Intel. The performance gain won’t be huge, but those who need the latest and greatest should take note. I’ve been using ULV PM notebooks for almost two years now and aside from gaming, haven’t found anything that they can’t handle. The same holds true with the W2 for the most part. The system handles office and productivity tasks well, but is hampered by the included RAM. The W2 only comes with 256MB, with one open slot for expansion. The Panasonic product materials say the memory can be expanded up to 768MB. I’m not entirely sure if this is true though. They might have published that spec before 1GB cards were available. In any event, buyers will want to throw in another 256MB to get better performance from XP and their other applications. Performance Benchmarks

Benchmarks from PCMark04 Free version

Panasonic W2 (1.1 MHz 256MB RAM)

Fujitsu P7010 (1.1 MHz 512 MB RAM)

Fujitsu P7010 (1.2 MHz 512 MB RAM)

File Compression

2.0 MB/s

2.0 MB/s

2.37 MB/s

File Encryption

16.35 MB/s

16.13 MB/s

17.5 MB/s

File Decompression

14.42 MB/s

14.31 MB/s

15.41 MB/s

Image Processing

6.46 MPixels/s

6.42 MPixels/s

6.88 MPixels/s

Virus Scanning

1310.48 MB/s

1363.87 MB/s

1374.93 MB/s

Grammar Check

1.66 KB/s

1.62 KB/s

1.82 KB/s

File Decryption

32.7 MB/s

32.36 MB/s

34.19 MB/s

Audio Conversion

1508.28 KB/s

1488.89 KB/s

1587.01 KB/s

Web Page Rendering

2.98 Pages/s

3.03 Pages/s

3.56 Pages/s

DivX Video Compression

29.9 FPS

30.32 FPS

32.87 FPS

Physics Calculation

41.55 FPS

57.18 FPS

57.71 FPS

Graphics Memory

241.39 FPS

237.44 FPS

243.43 FPS

Super Pi

Panasonic W2 (1.1 MHz 256MB RAM)

Fujitsu P7010 (1.1 MHz 512 MB RAM)

Fujitsu P7010 (1.2 MHz 512 MB RAM)

2 million places

2m 54s

3m 05s

2m 48s

Keyboard and Touchpad

The W2 features an 85-key keyboard that makes few compromises for an ultra portable. That’s three more keys than most in the class, the difference being the dedicated page up, page down and home keys. The dedicated keys for page up and down are great, making web browsing and scrolling through Word documents much easier.

The keys are very well supported, there is absolutely no flex in the keyboard at all. They require little pressure to depress and feel good when typing. My only gripe is that the keys are more rectangular than normal keys meaning a lot of misses until your fingers get trained. The keyboard is 10.5″ wide, half an inch wider than Fujitsu and Sony’s offerings.

The touchpad is one of the design marvels of the W2. Panasonic replaced the standard rectangle touch pad with a round one. It offers smaller area than most other touch pads at only 1 3/4″ in diameter. It responds well though and the large mouse buttons are easy to click. The touchpad also offers vertical scrolling.Input/Output Ports and Card Slots

  • Two USB 2.0
  • Monitor (15-pin)
  • Stereo for headphones/speakers
  • Microphone input
  • 10/100 Ethernet (RJ-45)
  • 56k modem (RJ-11)
  • Secure Digital

Panasonic has included a nice array of ports and expansion options with the W2. All of the ports and slots are on the sides of the machine, nothing on the front or back. Most of the ports are exposed, with the Ethernet and modem ports having rubber doors. The PCMCIA slot is protected with a door that slides back when a card is inserted. This is much better than the dummy card that is found in the Fujitsu P7000. The inclusion of the Secure Digital card is a nice addition. Sony only offers a Memory Stick slot while the P7000 supports Secure Digital, CompactFlash and Memory Stick.Wireless

The W2 comes with the Intel 2200 802.11b+g wireless card. There is no infrared port and Bluetooth is not embedded. Neither of the latter two points is critical though, the lack of Bluetooth and IR is standard in notebooks of this size. The wireless card performs well, on par with other notebooks in our office.BatteryBattery is always a critical part of the buying decision when it comes to ultra portable notebooks. The W2 comes with a 6600 mAh main battery, with no slot for a second battery. They also don’t offer a higher capacity battery, but the good news is, the battery performs very well as it is. Using Battery Eater Pro, the W2 lasted 264 minutes with the idle test and 148 minutes under the classic test, a measure of minimum battery life.Operating System and SoftwareThis is a business machine and Panasonic treats it as such, shipping the W2 with Windows XP Professional. It doesn’t come with media though, just a restore disk, which is standard in the industry. Thankfully Panasonic doesn’t load the W2 with a bunch of garbage software. In fact it comes with several useful applications, like a spyware removal program and application to handle ZIP files out of the box. Kudos to Panasonic for respecting the consumer on this front.Speakers

There are some things in ultra portable notebooks that we should just be happy if they’re there. Speakers are one of those items. The quality is simply terrible in most cases and this is no different. Music plays tinny and baseless and games aren’t as deep. Of course the stereo headphone jack resolves this problem, outputting respectable sound levels. The Sony T series and Fujitsu P offer a little more depth, but any performance gain is hardly measurable. To sum up, the W2 has a speaker, just be happy with that and use external methods if you want better sound.


The Panasonic W2 is a very well made machine that will stand up to the rigors of business travel or a somewhat clumsy owner. The eLite lids add a bit of flair in an otherwise conservative notebook. Though lacking the more entertainment oriented features of its competition, the W2 performs competently and reliably and should be strongly considered by buyers looking in the ultra portable category.Pros:

  • Shock mounted drive, mag alloy case
  • Extremely light
  • Lengthy battery life
  • Integrated optical drive
  • Large display in small package


  • At the high end of the price scale for this category
  • Not offered in widescreen or with enhanced display

Bottom Line:

If small, light and durable are the main buying criteria, nothing is going to beat the W2. Panasonic has a great machine on their hands; we look forward to future models in this mold.





Leave a Reply