Friday, March 5, 2010

Motion C5 vs. Panasonic H1

If you're looking for a Mobile Clinical Assistant (MCA), you're probably looking at either the Motion Computing C5 or the Panasonic Toughbook H1. There are other options, but the C5 and H1 are the most popular devices (and if you look at the market segment, you'll see that the C5 is currently dominating the MCA market).

So, what makes them similar? What makes them different? In order to qualify as an MCA, Intel has outlined the specifications that must be met. So, all MCAs will have very similar key capabilities.

Let me highlight 2 differences (although this will change by the latter part of this year):
  • The Panasonic Toughbook H1 is thicker, it has a "grip" option on the back that allows you to hold it more securely, and it offers a dual-battery design that lets you swap batteries without powering down the device. However, it lacks Gorilla Glass and its Atom processor is slow compared to the Motion C5 Core 2 Duo processor. The Atom processor and the dual battery design allows this machine to be used all day (which is more important if you're outdoors, but in a hospital setting you almost always have access to charging stations). Panasonic has a long history of building rugged Toughbook computers.
  • The Motion C5 is thinner and is currently designed with a single battery (but I was told this will be changing). It comes with Gorilla Glass and a faster Core 2 Duo processor. The faster processor could lead to shorter battery life, but in a hospital setting you generally have easy access to charging stations. Motion Computing specializes only in slate computers and they've been in this business for many years.
  • Both are Wacom Penabled. Neither offer a capacitive multi-touch screen option at this time.
Both of these slate tablets are expensive and they're designed for niche markets. I doubt that other major hardware manufacturers will be making similar MCAs anytime soon since these types of devices are highly specialized and expensive.


  1. Dr. Kim,
    Good article. The C5 and H1 are both great products and point out the future of mobility in healthcare.

    I'm clearly biased towards Panasonic...but you left out several important factual differentiators b/w the H1 & C5.

    - H1 DOES have a touchscreen (& active digitizer). C5 is only a digitizer.

    - Based on feedback from caregivers, the design of the H1 is much more ergonomic than the C5--especially the location of the optional 2D barcode scanner.

    - Not only does the H1 offer twice the battery life--but its batteries are hot-swappable. Even with easy access to charging stations, the battery on the C5 will run low at some point. When it does, the user has to stop what they're doing to either plug it in or power off to find a new battery. Not so with the H1--where users don't have to alter their workflow to fit the limitations of the device.

    - The H1 has an integrated hand-strap to make the device easy to hold while in use. It also sets the device up at a readable angle when placed on a flat surface (like a table or desk). No integrated hand-strap on the C5.

    - The H1 is fan-less and completely sealed--thus offers a much greater level of sanitization than with the C5 (IP65 vs IP54).

    - Gorilla Glass is an improvement on the original C5, but the H1 is still a much more durable product.

    - Like all Panasonic Toughbooks, the H1 comes standard with a 3-year warranty. The C1 only offers only a standard a 1-year warranty (unless you pay extra).

    - Most importantly, all Panasonic Toughbooks are made in Panasonic factories by Panasonic employees. We do not outsource our manufacturing. This is why Toughbooks have always maintained levels of product reliability that no other company in the industry can come close to.

    Once again, I openly admit that I'm biased. However, based on what customers and industry partners tell us every day, feature-for-feature the H1 stands alone...

  2. Thanks for those points Greg. Those are certainly important considerations for any clinician or hospital considering an MCA.

  3. More than anything, Joseph, there's never going to be a one-size-fits-all. The MCA is a great platform, but it not always going to be the right fit in every situation--depending on the type of user, the type of facility, the primary application used, etc.

    I think it's important to try out demo devices in the real world setting to determine what works best with the user's actual workflow.

  4. I find the handle on the h1 very annoying actualy. It only really works for users with a certain sized hand (not typical nurse sized in my experience) and only in landcape mode. So I dismiss greg's claims of ergonomics completely as panasonic devotion.

    I have both devices here Btw as well as pretty much every tablet and UMPC on the market. Out of all of them I pick up a C5 as my main tablet (and to write this long winded comment).

    There are some other critcal points:

    1, Whilst motion battery is a single, it is easily warm swapped in standby (ie. You don't have to shut down at all, this swap takes about
    15 seconds and does not interrupt workflow at least like an atom processor does).

    2. Batteries on the motion charge in 90 mins. 5 hours per battery on the h1.

    3, Motion's view anywhere hydis display is vastly superior to panasonic. Viewing angle (180 degrees vs 90ish - critical for tablets), outdoor viewability and power consumption of the display at full brightness are way ahead on motion. Try running the H1 at full screen brightness and you'll be lucky to get much more runtime than the C5 from the H1's 2 batteries!

    4, Windows 7 runs beautifully fast on the c5. It is not supported (or at least recommended) on the h1 with only 1 gb ram. What you do find if you run win 7 on an atom is that regular tablet tasks like handwriting recognition are painfully slow (again I have several UMPCs running win7-viliv s5 and X70 for example).

    Now before you dismiss handwriting recognition, with some basic training our users are achieving input at up to 40 wpm (caveat: on a core 2 machine, not on an Atom which is too slow and frustrating). So for many users that is as fast or faster than typing.

    This new generation c5 makes it very difficult to see any reason to choose the h1 at all, and I beleive that motion have more up thier sleeve very soon.

  5. Dr. Kim, thanks for creating this discussion forum. It is a very worthwhile topic. The Mobile Clinical Assistant (MCA) platform, as propelled by Intel's Digital Health Group, has the potential to dramatically reshape how we think about mobile computing at the point of care, and these two products are the front-runners in the contest to provide the best product in the MCA category. It is a great idea to have a discussion on their respective merits--of which there are many.
    I would like to make a couple comments, but first, out of respect for your readers, I'd like to indicate my bias on this matter. I am a partner in a company that sells hardware solutions to the healthcare industry. We focus on best in class solutions for a given subject area. In the mobile device category, we stick pretty much to Panasonic. If we found a product line that was better than Panasonic's Toughbook line, we'd start selling them. We are biased, but it is a bias towards quality for our customer, not a particular manufacturer per se.
    I just don’t want it to seem as if I were pretending to be “neutral.” It’s easy enough to see through that type of insincerity anyway.
    That said, I do believe considerable kudos should go to Motion for their "first to market" effort on the MCA platform and they certainly have has some success as a result. Motion has created a lot of exposure for the MCA platform and created a lot of buzz. They have produced a good product, in my mind at least, the second best MCA product out there. This is no small feat. Panasonic, always the conservative company, came in later and may have missed some initial exposure as a result. However, in my opinion, it is Panasonic that delivered on the promise that MCA offers.
    For detailed side by side comparisons, the interested reader can easily go to our website to see our video comparisons of these two products: Please note, we claim to be experts on mobile computing solutions for healthcare--this doesn’t make us good with video; these are definitely low production quality, so my apologies in advance. (There is a funny version of these comparisons on YouTube as well, just search in YouTube on "H1" or "C5" plus the words "Hammer Time.")
    Here are two differentiators which are not specifically addressed in the video comparisons:
    1. Depth of product line: as mentioned above, there is no "one size fits all." Panasonic has the largest depth and breadth of product available. They are not a "Johnny One Note" and can provide the same great value, dependability, three year warranty, service, etc for a variety of different products that fit, and fit well, into the healthcare world’s many applications. Plus they also make great document/card scanners, Plasma displays and a whole host of other healthcare specific products.
    2. Quality. There are few true manufacturers today. Companies like Dell, Motion (really a Dell spin off that focuses on slates), Acer, Toshiba, etc all pay an outsourced company to assemble parts which are in turn made by someone else. This is a great strategy for producing something cheap. The alternate strategy, as exemplified by Panasonic, is quality differentiation. I can attest to this first hand as I’ve had the privilege of touring the Panasonic factories in Japan. I’ve met the Panasonic engineers and technicians that design, build and assemble the products from the motherboard level on up. From what I have seen, there is nothing out there that compares in quality.
    But please, please no one should take my (or anyone else's) word for it. The decision as to what to put in a hospital is too important. Try them both out, put them side by side. There are lots of ways to do this, but we have our "Touch and Try" program where we'll send out a Toughbook for testing. I'm not sure where you would get the C5, but something tells me "brettg" could help… ;-)

  6. @bpresler - Brettg is an independent reseller of both Panasonic and Motion Tablet PCs in Australia. I just sold a bunch of Toughbook CF-19s to a large federal govt department here in Australia. I also sell plenty of Motion tablets where they are appropriate for the job. In fact, as a reseller of all types of Tablet PCs, I offer far more depth than Panasonic does with its four Tablet PC models... We can actually buy from any manufacturer that has the right tool for the job! How about that eh?

    In the US, you should do yourself a favour and contact Motion Computing directly or one of its resellers to see the C5.

    I visit hospitals all over Australia with current Model C5 and H1 Tablet PCs for clinicians to evaluate.

    Your ridiculously biased hammer time video compared an old series first generation C5 to a current Panasonic H1. This is like comparing a MacBook Pro to an Apple II.

    Interestingly, I know from experience (having seen many broken Toughbook screens) that the H1 screen would have broken in exactly the same way if you hammered a H1 with a C5, and I think most intelligent people would see the same.

    The current C5 combines Corning's Gorilla Glass with the BOE Hydis AFFS+ display. It is the toughest glass on the market combined with the best display on the market, and both of these are exclusive to Motion.

    The Corning screen is seriously tougher than the Panasonic H1 screen and your hammer time video simply wouldn't work anymore. Search for Gorilla Glass and you'll see what I mean!

    So no, the Motion product is not just "cheap", but is vastly superior technology... put simply that means no waiting, no slow computers that you just can't see in bright light or at odd angles. The C5 can comfortably run windows 7 and really take advantage of the Tablet PC input advances, but I cannot in good conscience recommend the same for my H1 clients. It is simply not powerful enough.

    You've really offered nothing to even slightly differentiate the H1 product... Your quality line is a great motto, but what does it actually mean? It's made in Japan? So is Fujitsu...

    I have many clients in healthcare here in Australia and as I said above, I cannot see a single advantage that the H1 offers - apart from a great brand name.

    It's just not enough for me unfortunately. The Japanese are going to have to pull up their socks and get innovative again, because the H1 looks to me like design by committee.

    From my perspective as a tablet pc specialist, the H1 was a very dissapointing release. And by the way it is being dumped into the market here at severly discounted prices, I think that dissapointing is what it has proved to be...

  7. Discussion about durability & Gorilla glass is all nonsense, especially in a hospital where everything is handeled with kid gloves, its not a building site after all. We use the C5, and its way too heavy, and akward to hold.Having to use the pen/wand is a chore, I mean look at our iPhones, just use a finger touch. With Windows 7, they frequently crash, and there are all sorts of issuess about synchronisation which means you should only do ceertain things when docked in the station. Really a chore. Should have propper real time wireless updating, with base for charging only. When one compares the C5 with an iPad, its quite a dinosaur