Matsushita Electric Industrial Co Ltd will add the "F8," a high-performance and portable notebook PC, to its "Let's note" series.

This time, a handle, like one for a briefcase, was attached to the body to improve the portability of the laptop, which, with a 14.1-inch LCD panel and a weight of about 1,630g (including a battery), otherwise does not seem to be very portable.

Matsushita considered that it is easier to carry the laptop by the handle than by holding it under the arm. This idea came from its customers, said Toshiyuki Takagi, director of the IT Products Division, Panasonic AVC Networks Company.

Matsushita has already commercialized notebook PCs with a handle for special purposes in tough use environments. But its customers, especially those in the US, have been requesting the same type of laptop PCs for consumer use.

However, if a notebook PC is carried by a handle, stress is concentrated on the surrounding areas of the handle.

"If the handle were broken (and the laptop dropped on user's foot, for example), it would lead to a problem of product safety," said Hisashi Taniguchi, chief engineer of the Hardware Designing Team, Technology Center, IT Products Division, Panasonic AVC Networks Company.

Furthermore, chassis for consumer-use notebook PCs are not as robust as those for special purposes, posing a technical difficulty, he said.

To solve this problem, the supporting structure of the handle and the back side of the chassis were jointed by multiple bolts to disperse the stress on the handle to the chassis. Compared with the products for special purposes, the joining area is broader, further dispersing the pressure. The handle and the supporting structure (including a movable structure) are die-cast with magnesium alloy.

In the phase of the development, there was an idea of making the handle user-detachable. However, the idea was dropped from the viewpoint of safety: If the supporting structure is simple enough for users to detach, stress will concentrate on it.

In the F8 series, magnesium alloy die-cast parts were also used for the top plate and the bottom part of the chassis to reduce the weight. The mass of the handle is about 50g, but the weight of the laptop increased by about 120g because of the measures taken to enhance the robustness of the edges and other parts of the body so that it can be safely carried by the handle.