Dell gets tough with new laptops

PC maker says its new military-grade notebook is made for mobile warriors who work in tough environments.

PC maker Dell on Monday unveiled a rugged notebook computer designed to protect against accidental bumps, moisture, and other elements that mobile workers may encounter in the field.

Rugged portable computers are niche products that are made to stand up to extreme temperatures, dust, water and shock from being dropped. They are often used in military environments, construction sites, as well as by first responders, such as police and emergency organizations.

Ng Tian Beng, Dell Singapore's country manager, said in a press statement: "We have heard from customers loud and clear that a tougher, highly protective notebook with a screen that is easy to see outdoors is necessary in many lines of work."

According to Dell, its new mobile machine--the Latitude ATG D620--meets military standards for protection against vibrations, humidity and altitude.

Some of the notebook's strength comes from a durable chassis, which is coated with magnesium paint. In addition, the Latitude ATG D620 is equipped with a shock-mounted hard drive, spill-resistant keyboard as well as port covers to keep out dust.

Weighing in at 2.8kg, the notebook also features a 14.1-inch non-reflective WXGA display with a brightness rating of 500nits, which Dell claims is 1.5 times brighter than mainstream corporate notebooks and better for viewing in sunlight.

Elsewhere, the Latitude ATG D620 adopts standard notebook hardware specifications.

The model's standard configuration includes a T7600 Intel Core 2 Duo processor, 512MB of DDR2 RAM (expandable to 4GB), Intel GMA 950 graphics chip and an 80GB hard drive. Pricing starts at S$3,730 (US$2,422), Dell's press release states.

Dell is not the only computer maker to venture into the ruggedized PC segment.

The company faces competition from several other companies, including Panasonic, which has been selling a beefed-up notebook line--dubbed the Toughbook--for years.

Another rival in the niche segment is fellow US PC maker Hewlett Packard which started peddling its own line of ruggedized mobile computers back in 2004.

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