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Dell Latitude 14 Rugged

Dell's full-size, semi-rugged notebook computer
(by Conrad H. Blickenstorfer)

Dell originally introduced their Latitude 14 Rugged September 2014 as a semi-rugged notebook computer and successor to the company's Latitude 6430 ATG. In Fall of 2016, Dell quietly introduced a significant technology update to their full-size semi-rugged laptop, and simply lists it as the new Latitude 14 Rugged.

Since Dell is primarily known for its vast lineup of consumer, business and enterprise desktops and laptops, let's first mention where the Latitude 14 Rugged fits in. For many years Dell offered "ATG" ("All Terrain Grade") semi-rugged and "XFR" (Xtreme Fully Rugged") rugged notebooks. The XFR models were originally made for Dell by Augmentix, which later became part of Dell.

In early 2014, Dell replaced the XFR with the Latitude 12 Rugged Extreme convertible and the Latitude 14 Rugged Extreme laptop. Likewise, the Latitude 14 Rugged replaces the ATG. Ever since, Dell has been offering semi-rugged "Latitude Rugged" and fully-rugged "Latitude Rugged Extreme" models.

One point Dell emphasizes is that whereas the their older semi-rugged models were built "up" from standard Latitude laptops, the new 14 Rugged was designed "down" from the super-tough Rugged Extreme line.

An informally given analogy by a Dell rep was that the new 14 Rugged is like a SUV built on a truck platform whereas the older ATGs were like SUVs built on car platforms. That becomes instantly obvious when first seeing the all-black Rugged 14 with its hefty carry handle and vault-like heft and build.

The Latitude 14 Rugged is a Dell laptop through and through, but one that's substantially tougher and more durable than a standard Latitude. It measures 13.7 x 9.6 inches, is 1.73 inches thick, and starts at a not inconsiderable 6.3 pounds. That's a good bit more than a civilian Latitude. Also of note are the very sturdy and well integrated carry handle, the hefty corner protection, and the beefy I/O port covers and plugs.

Display and interface

The Latitude 14 Rugged has an 14-inch display. Standard resolution is 1366 x 768 pixel, the same as the 12 and 14 Rugged Extreme models. 14-inch displays offer a good chunk of screen real estate, but without being too big and bulky.

A higher resolution 1920 x 1080 full HD option is available for applications that benefit from it, such as mapping and GIS. Dell also offers an optional discrete AMD Radeon R7 M360 graphics card for applications where more speed and power is needed than the integrated Intel HD Graphics 520 can provide. The full HD display is very bright (1000 nits) and suitable for outdoor use, and there's also a glove-capable touchscreen option available for it.

Note that Dell is one of the pioneers in modern-era outdoor-viewable displays, and the Rugged 14 benefits from that expertise. Dell's screen technology reduces internal reflectivity and display glare for good viewing performance outdoors and in the sun.

Extensive connectivity

Like the competition in this class, the Latitude 14 Rugged offers excellent connectivity and expandability. There are three USB 3.0 ports, a USB 2.0 port, a native RS232 serial port, a gigabit RJ45 LAN jack, audio in/out, VGA and HDMI video, and a docking connector (that's optional since not everyone needs it), all with protective covers. There is a memory card reader and an Expresscard/54 or PC Card slot as well. Customers can also get optional second serial and LAN ports, or a Fischer-type USB port.

Below is a close-up of the backside of the 14 Rugged with the protective door open. There are I/O compartments on the left and right side as well, and each has a protective cover. These covers are not meant to be waterproof, but they securely snap into place, and can easily be replaced should they ever break or wear out.

State-of-the-art wireless communication is crucial in a mobile computing device, be that in the office or out there on the road or in the field. Dell covers that with a Dell Wireless 1802 802.11AGN module that also includes Bluetooth 4.0. Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8260 802.11ac with Bluetooth 4.2 is an option. Additional options include mobile broadband via a Dell Wireless 5808E Gobi 5000 4G LTE module, and a dedicated u-blox NEO-M8 GPS module.

Semi-rugged design

How tough and rugged is Dell's Latitude 14 Rugged? It gets a bit confusing here because while the machine is called the Latitude 14 Rugged, it is really a semi-rugged machine. That puts it between Dell's standard business laptops and the super-tough Latitude 14 Rugged Extreme.

As is, the 14 Rugged's three feet drop spec means a fall from a desk won't faze it whereas such a mishap can kill a lesser laptop. And while semi-ruggeds generally aren't sealed, the 14 Rugged does carry an IP52 rating, where the "5" means the device is protected against dust, and the "2" that it's also protected against direct sprays of water at up to 15 degree angles from vertical. So the Dell 14 Rugged can handle not only the accidental spill but also a good bit of rain.

An important requirement of semi-ruggeds is that they continue to perform at a high level when it's very hot or very cold. The 14 Rugged's operating temperature range is -20° to 140° Fahrenheit. That's very impressive for a machine classified as semi-rugged, and Dell reps say the machine can maintain full performance over the entire range.

Performance: Intel "Skylake" 6th gen Core processors

The "New" Latitude 14 Rugged skipped a processor generation compared to the original models and comes with a choice of three different Intel "Skylake" 6th generation Core processors. All three of the available CPUs are ultra-low voltage versions with TDPs of just 15 watts and integrated HD Graphics 520.

Available 14 Rugged CPUs Intel Core i7 Intel Core i5 Intel Core i3
Model 6600U 6300U 6100U
Cores/Threads 2/4 2/4 2/4
Base Clock Speed 2.60 GHz 2.40 GHz 2.30 GHz
Turbo Speed 3.40 GHz 3.00 GHz No turbo
Thermal Design Power (TDP) 15 watts 15 watts 15 watts
Smart Cache 4MB 3MB 3MB
Integrated graphics HD Graphics 520 HD Graphics 520 HD Graphics 520
Graphics base speed 300 MHz 300 MHz
Graphics max speed 1.05 GHz 1.00 GHz 1.00 GHz
Intel vPro Yes Yes No

To see full spec table for these three CPUs, see here.

The device supports up to 16GB of DDR4 memory in two slots. Mass storage is via mSATA solid state disks up to 1TB. An SED version (Self-Encrypting Drive) is optionally available. The 14 Rugged comes standard with a 65 watt-hour Li-Ion battery, and there's an optional 97 watt-hour battery good for up to 13 hours.

Keyboard: Full scale and RGB backlight

The full-size keyboard of the Latitude 14 Rugged has a crisp and clean layout with well designed labels. A special RGB backlight allows users to set the keyboard backlight to any color they wish. That can come in very handy.

Security

For security, the Dell Latitude 14 Rugged has FIPS 140-2 TPM 2.0 functionality to store secured information. Smart Card readers (both insert and contactless) and optional fingerprint reader provide additional access security. There's a cable lock slot, some of the available processors support vPro, a set of Intel security and remote management technologies that offer multiple lines of built-in defenses, and there are also Dell's advanced security and data protection and encryption tools.

What Dell brings to the table

The big difference between Dell and its competition in the rugged space is that Dell is also a world-leading provider of commercial PCs, which gives them an edge in large scale production experience and also with enterprises that like to one-stop shop.

In addition, there's Dell's Global Command Center that stays on top of well over 100 million supported systems, 17 million annual dispatches and 500+ same day parts centers in over 160 countries, providing 24/7 support in 50+ languages.

The Latitude 14 Rugged is fully compatible with any Rugged Extreme docks and mounting solutions, and customers have a vast array of options available to configure the machine exactly to their requirements.

Between that, Dell's consistent commitment to the rugged space, and the machine's impressive design, up-to-date technology and specs, this new semi-rugged notebook is certain to be a strong competitor.

Specs Dell New Latitude 14 Rugged
Status Added 06/2017
Type Semi-rugged notebook
Processor (Intel) Core i3-6100U, 3MB Cache
Core i5-6300U, 3MB Cache
Core i7-6600U, 4MB Cache
CPU Speed i3-6100U, 2.3GHz
i5-6300U, 2.4GHz/3.0GHz
i7-6600U, 2.6GHz/3.4GHz
CPU Thermal Design Power All 15 watts
Standard/Max RAM Up to 32GB DDR4 2133MHz in 2 DIMM slots
OS Windows 10 Pro (64-bit)
Windows 7 Pro (64-bit)
Linux Ubuntu 14.04 LTS
Graphics i3-6100U: Intel 520
i5-6300U: Intel 520
i7-6600U: Intel 520
Opt. AMD Radeon R7 M360
Disk/drive 500GB 5400rpm HD; optional 500GB 7200rpm HD, 128GB, 256GB, 512GB or 1TB mSATA Solid State, 256GB or 512GB SED SSD
Media bay Yes, optional DVD+/-RW
Card slots 1 ExpressCard 54 or PC Card, memory card reader, 2 internal M.2 slots
Display type Outdoor-readable, LED backlight, protective front glass
Display size/res 14.0-inch/1366 x 768 pixel 16:9; optional 14.0/1920 x 1080 16:9 1000 nit Direct-View outdoor-readable display
Digitizer/pens Optional glove-capable touchscreen (only with 1920 x 1080 screen)
Keyboard/scale 100%-scale 82-key RGB backlit, opt. rubberized RGB backlit kbd.
Housing Impact-resistant polymers and magnesium alloy
Operating Temp -20° to 140°F (-29° to 60°C)
Sealing IP52
Shock 3-foot drops
Humidity MIL-STD 810G
Solar Radiation unknown
Vibration MIL-STD 810G
Altitude MIL-STD 810G
Certifications TBA
Size (WxHxD) 13.7 x 9.6 x 1.73 inches (347 x 243 x 44 mm)
Weight Starting at 6.3 lbs. (2.86 kg) with 6-cell battery
Power 6-cell 65Wh Li-Ion or 9-cell 97Wh ("up to 14 hrs"), optional 6-cell 58Wh or 9-cell 87Wh long-life cycle Li-Ion
Cameras Optional: FHD video front webcam with privacy shutter
Interface 3 x USB 3.0, 1 x USB 2.0, 1 x RS232 (native), 1 x gigabit RJ-45 LAN, 1 x VGA, 1 x HDMI, audio in/out, pogo-pin dock; optional second native RS-232 and second RJ-45 LAN Ethernet network or Fischer USB
Wireless Dell Wireless 1802 802.11AGN + BT 4.0, optional Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8260 802.11ac with Bluetooth 4.2; opt. Dell Wireless 5808E Gobi 5000 4G LTE/A-GPS, optional dedicated u-blox NEO-M8 GPS
List price As of 06/27/2017: Starting at US$1,299
Web dell.com
14 Rugged page dell.com/rugged
Brochure Dell New Latitude 14 Rugged
Warranty Return to depot
Dell Latitude 14 Rugged