Dell Latitude ATG|
Dell gets into the rugged market
(by Conrad H. Blickenstorfer)
With Panasonic, General Dynamics/Itronix being increasingly successful with their durable, semi-rugged and rugged notebooks, Dell simply had to offer something in that range.
The Latitude ATG is the first such product. It is based on the standard Latitude D620. Dell calls it not only "rough-and-ready" like its other "RoadReady" notebooks, but also "All-Terrain Grade" (hence "ATG"). This refers to the magnesium alloy chassis and LCD back, the high durability paint, the shockmounted hard disk, port covers, the spill-resistant keyboard, and an outdoor-viewable LCD that is not only very bright (500 Nits), but also uses a DuPont optical bonding process for an additional anti-reflective cover glass.
Dell says the ATG is designed to withstand drops, shocks, vibration and spills and has been certified to meet MIL-STD 810F. Unfortunately, the specs do not include actual drop numbers, IP rating, operating temperature range, or vibration resistance, all data of importance to prospective buyers.
While we have to refrain from commenting on the actual ruggedness, it's clear that the Latitude ATG, likely built by Compal, is up to snuff in the technology department. It's a modern design built around Intel's Core 2 Duo processor, can handle up to 4GB of RAM and either an 80 or 120GB 4200 RPM hard disk. A media bay can accommodate either one of a variety of optical drives, including a DVD writer, or a good old-faashioned floppy drive. There are two battery choices -- a 6-cell 56 watt-hour unit or a 9-cell pack that provides 85 watt-hours. For a rggedized machine the ATG is remarkably light and compact. At 13.3 x 9.4 x 1.7 inches and weighing just over six pounds, you can take it anywhere.
The ATG also shines in the interface department. There are four USB ports, a legacy serial port, video, audio, modem and Gigabit LAN. There's also a fingerprint reader and a SmartCard reader. For expansion there is a PC Card slot and a Express Card slot with both 34 and 54mm connector support. On the wireless side, you get 802.11a/g/n as well as the usual variety of TelCo-supported mobile broadband options for Sprint, Verizon, or Telus.
The wide-format Samsung LCD measures 14.1 inches diagonally and uses the currently fashionable 1280 x 800 pixel ratio. At 500 Nits it is exceptionally bright.
Like all Dell notebooks, you can customize the ATG or order it in a "good," "better," or "best" configuration. It starts at US$2,499 and, according to Dell, is Vista-ready.