Located in the city of Kobe and at an half hour’s drive from the Shin-Kobe Shikansen train station, Panasonic’s Toughbook factory isn’t anywhere near the walking beef steaks, so unfortunately, we didn't quite get the chance to snap a picture of the famous cows. Located right smack in an industrial district surrounded by other factories, the Toughbook factory seems pretty unassuming and normal, and not the high tech gizmo wonder that we were expecting.
In fact, our first impression turned out to be pretty much correct, as the interior harkens back to something from the 80s. But don’t let the slightly drab facade fool you. Behind the walls lie machines that are capable of churning out notebooks featuring the latest technology. Before we could enter the factory however, we had to swap out our shoes for electrostatic slippers, to prevent any accidental electrical discharge, which in a worst case scenario, may destroy valuable electronic circuits strewn all over the factory (and leave us with a debt we could probably never pay off in our lifetimes).
Just prior to the tour, we got a look at some of the Toughbook models produced in the factory. There are technically four types of rugged notebooks that Panasonic makes, the first being the fully rugged notebooks, the semi-rugged (but still really tough), the business rugged models (like the Toughbook CF-S9 that we just reviewed) and the ultra mobile rugged types that feature a tablet design.