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Dell Latitude 14 Rugged Extreme: a hardhat laptop for rough work environments

Elias Plastiras | April 9, 2014
After two years of research and development, Dell has come out with a fully rugged Latitude notebook that's designed for use in field work where normal laptops might not be able to survive.

After two years of research and development, Dell has come out with a fully rugged Latitude notebook that's designed for use in field work where normal laptops might not be able to survive.

The Latitude 14 Rugged Extreme represents a new product direction for Dell. While it has had semi-rugged products for a while, such as its ATG range of Latitude laptops, this is the first time that the company has offered a product that can take a barrage of punishment and yet continue to function.

The Latitude Rugged Extreme is a 14in laptop that's built using a combination of impact-resistant polymers and magnesium alloy. It's a product that carries an IP65 rating for water and dust ingress, and it has gone through MIL-STD-810G testing for shocks and temperature variations.

Basically, it's a unit that's waterproof (though not fully submersible), dustproof, shockproof, and capable of withstanding hot and cold climates. It can be used outside on rainy days, in environments where dust and dirt can't be avoided, and in places where knocks might be common (mounted in a vehicle, for example). Furthermore, the construction materials that have been used allow it to be used in some environments where hazardous materials are present.

Its specifications as a laptop are typical: you get your choice of a fourth generation Intel Core i3, Core i5 or Core i7 CPU, up to 16GB of RAM, optional Nvidia GeForce graphics, and up to 512GB of solid state storage. It's what's present around the edges of the laptop that creates a point of differentiation.

The usual flaps and seals are there to make sure all the ports and slots are covered secured when they are not in use (usual as far as rugged products are concerned, that is), and these ports and slots include those that are modern (USB 3.0, USB 2.0, SD, and HDMI), in addition to some throwback technology.

You get a VGA port for connecting to projectors and older monitors and TVs, but that's not even the oldest port on offer. In fact, the Latitude features two serial ports that are native. These are said to still be in high demand in certain fields where diagnostics from machines need to be downloaded, or transfers from meters and other devices need to be made. Two Ethernet ports are also present, which allows for more secure networking.

As a rugged product, the Latitude Rugged Extreme is a bulky product, and it needs to be in order to incorporate all of the protections for its internal components. The outside shell acts as a fortress for those components, complete with a carry handle, and there is a rhyme and reason to the way it has been shaped. For example, Dell had feedback from customers who wanted a product that could stand up on its own like a briefcase, so it incorporated flat sides which give the laptop that capability.

 

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