Panasonic Australia is currently trialling the sale of its Tough range of nominally business-to-business computer products through retailers, with 30 Harvey Norman stores in New South Wales and Western Australia selling a limited number of CF-53 notebooks for around $2,000.

This news was revealed at the launch yesterday of the new Panasonic Toughpad, the most rugged Android tablet to be launched on the Australian market.

Harvey Norman head office sources confirmed this trial was taking place.

Mark Deere-Jones, the director of Panasonic’s B2B Business Systems group said that should this trial prove successful, selected retail stores could be offered an expanded range of products.

That’s not to say retailers cannot sell the new Toughpad currently. Although not being actively marketed to its retail customers, Panasonic’s authorised distributor, Multimedia Technology (MMT) will sell Toughpads into retail on an ad hoc basis.

Starting from $1,499, the Toughpad has 16GB of storage, expandable by 32GB via MicroSD; 1GB of RAM and a 1.2GHz dual-core processor. The tablet runs Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) and is fully compatible with apps from Google Play, as well as specifically developed apps for the Toughpad.

The display is a 10.1-inch capacitive multi-touch screen (1,024 x 768) that has been optimised for use in bright daylight.

Designed for the health, military, resources and government industries, the Toughpad is part of an umbrella tablet strategy for Panasonic that is likely to grow in the coming months.

Deere-Jones said Panasonic was “absolutely” interested in smaller form factors, such as a ‘Toughpad mini’ style model, and that by April 2013, there would be a full Windows 8 version of the Toughpad available.

For the full product details on the Panasonic Toughpad, read the product bruchure here.