There's something deceptively fierce-looking about the Panasonic Toughbook CF-F8 business-ruggedised laptop.

An Intel dual-core processor and 3GB RAM fire the ruggedised, 14in Panasonic Toughbook CF-F8 laptop to an impressive WorldBench 6 benchmark of 97. But you won't get to use such speed in Windows 7, as the Panasonic Toughbook CF-F8 comes only with Vista or XP. Our sample had Windows XP installed.

Multimedia playback will be no problem: the Panasonic Toughbook CF-F8 is no gaming rig, but achieves playable framerates - 19fps in FEAR at Medium, but 7fps at our standard Maximum settings.

It won't let you down on the move, either, cranking out an impressive six hours and 13 minutes of active battery life in our MobileMark 2007 Productivity test. Enough to do almost a full working day free from the tyranny of the socket, this is in fact even longer than Panasonic claims.

The 14in, 1280x800 anti-glare display is bright and clear, housed in a chassis mostly wrought from magnesim alloy. This embues it with good strength and impressive lightness. Pick up the Panasonic Toughbook CF-F8 and you'll find that at just 1.6kg, it's no millstone.

It's also, as the Panasonic Toughbook CF-F8 moniker suggests, a hardy soul. There are various levels of ‘ruggedization' to the Toughbook range - this one is at the lower end of indestructability, and refererred to as Business Ruggedized.

The lack of serious weight and a toughened shell mean that dropping the Panasonic Toughbook CF-F8 does little harm. We tried some reckless sweeping of this Toughbook from an office desk to the floor 0.7m below, with no discernible ill effects at all.

The Panasonic Toughbook CF-F8 case is said to be partly watertight too: spill coffee on your keyboard and it should wash away without damage.

You pay a price for solidity, however, not just in cold hard cash. The keyboard, though full-size, feels cramped - we found it a little tough to type accurately.

To squeeze in an optical drive, Panasonic added a top-loading DVD burner next to the tiny, circular trackpad. This takes up a hefty chunk of real estate, pushing back the keys. Throw in a tiny and irritatingly small right-side Shift key, and you've got sore wrists and alphabet soup.

The Panasonic Toughbook CF-F8 is blessed with a range of connectivity options - and cursed with a plethora of hardware switches. There's ethernet, three USB ports, an SD card reader and VGA.

You get Bluetooth and 802.11b/g/n wireless - although the latter requires both a hard- and software switch to be enabled. Why? There are separate front-facing switches to open and boot the Panasonic Toughbook CF-F8, and one to spring the dust-proof DVD drive hatch.

NEXT PAGE: The original PC World US review

Laptops reviews and buying advice