A Review of the CF-VEBU06 Port Replicator for Panasonic CF-74 Toughbook Computers

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I expected more…

I work in the IT department for a pretty large city government, and we have over 200 Panasonic brand Toughbook computers, with half being the ruggedized CF-30 model and the rest being the semi-rugged CF-74. We use these computers mainly in police cars so that they can access a wireless network that we’ve put up all over the city.

We bought one of the Panasonic Mini Port Replicators (CF-VEBU06) to test with the CF-74 Toughbooks because we wanted to add an extra Ethernet port to the computers. It did not do what we wanted, so we probably won’t be using these. It still functions pretty well, though I think it is mostly just a glorified USB hub. It all depends on your needs.

Ethernet Extension (1 out of 5)

In order to access our wireless network, we have to put in some specific network settings. The problem this creates is that the police officers can’t take the Toughbook out of their patrol car and go plug in an Ethernet cable from inside one of the stations, because the network settings are different. We got this port replicator in the hopes that it would give us an extra set of network settings to work on the Ethernet port of the replicator, that way the officers could have the right wireless network settings for the Ethernet port on the back of the Toughbook and still use the PC with the replicator in a station. It didn’t work that way.

When you plug in this port replicator to the CF-74 model, it automatically sets itself up and there are no drivers to install. That’s a big plus. If you have an Ethernet cable plugged into the port on the back of the PC, it will automatically tell you it is unplugged just as soon as you connect this port replicator. I think Panasonic made this replicator so that its Ethernet port is mainly just an extension of the one built into the PC, like a pass-through, and not a totally separate unit. That’s why it uses the same settings for both connections.

Other Features (3 out of 5)

In addition to extending the Ethernet port, as opposed to giving you an extra one, this port replicator includes four USB ports, a VGA video output connection, and a power supply connection. The main use for this kind of replicator is that you set it up on your desk with all your connections plugged into the replicator instead of the PC. That way, when you get ready to take the PC with you, the only thing you have to unplug is the port replicator.

Most port replicators also include PS2 connections for a mouse or keyboard, but this one does not. You could always get a USB mouse or keyboard to use, but that would take up 2 of the 4 USB connections it gives you. At least it does include a VGA connector for hooking up an external monitor, which is always good to have when people don’t like the smaller laptop screens.

Overall Impression (2 out of 5)

I was pretty disappointed with this Panasonic Mini Port Replicator CF-VEBU06. It didn’t do what we wanted it to, plus it just didn’t have that many good features for what it costs (167.99 from Amazon). We could have done just as well to buy a cheap 4-port USB hub and then manually unplugged the power and Ethernet from the back of the Toughbook. For the price, I don’t think it provides enough value.