Laptops built for rough and tumble use are fairly niche and not ideal for everyday use. Their rugged build hinders portability and, unless you are a hiker or adventure sportsman, you will get better value for money elsewhere. Nonetheless, if you are the sort who spends most of your time outdoors and are looking for a laptop that will not be damaged with a fall, then there is a whole category of hard use fdevices you should consider.
Today we have with us the Dell Latitude ATG which looks like it's built more for combat than computing. Will this be your next adventure sport gadget?
Build/design and ports
The build of the Dell Latitude ATG is fantastic. It's strong, rugged and made out of some very hard plastic with a black rubberized finish around its border. The top of the lid is brushed aluminum grey with black rubberized bordering and the device is so strong that we actually stood on it for a bit and it didn't even flinch under our weight.
Keep the device closed and it looks just like a briefcase thanks to its handle and square design. Since the device is heavy, this isn't a flimsy briefcase either. It is strong enough to be swung at someone and cause some damage.
Adding to the overall look and outdoor utility is the fact that all the ports on this laptop have a rubberized cover. These covers help prevent the device from exposure to dust and dirt in an outdoor open environment. The device even has a DVD drive. This adds a little to its weight and size but it's a fair trade-off considering now you don't need to carry that external CD drive.
One of the biggest drawbacks of the device is that the ports are all over the place. The SD card reader rests on the front panel. Its position is a little inconvenient as it is very close to the briefcase style handle. To the right of the device you have two USB 2.0 ports along with an e-SATA cum USB 2.0 port. The right also has the CD drive along with a Wi-Fi on/off toggle. The left of the device houses a VGA out, one USB 2.0 port and the headphones jack. To the left rear of the device we have an Ethernet port along with the DC in. To the right rear of the device we have the HDMI out.
The overall placement of the ports is convenient but fell scattered. The design of the device isn't eye candy and resembles the bombing PC found in the Call of Duty video games, which isn't necessarily a bad thing.
Keyboard and track pad
Open up the device and you are greeted with a compact and well laid out keyboard. It isn't chicklet style but is surprisingly comfortable to type on. The keys are springy and feel well-built. We bashed our fingers real hard on this rugged machine only to find out fingers hurt but keyboard stays intact. Laughs apart, the keyboard is seriously one of the best in the business.
Controlling the mouse however is a mixed experience. You have the pointing stick (why do they still make that? It's horrible!), which isn't the best way to control the mouse. The pointing stick rests between the G, H and B button whereas the left and right click rests under the spacebar. The other is a standard track-pad with a dedicated left and right click. The track pad isn't as large as the one you'd find on a MacBook but it's enough to get the job done. Made out of plastic, the trackpad is fairly smooth and comfortable to use. The same cannot be said about the pointing stick, which we just hate.
Display and audio
The device has a 14-inch display with a resolution of 1366x768 and is a touchscreen. The screen has a rugged black border surrounding it. The best part about the screen is that its brightness and contrast is quite high making it ideal for use in an outdoor situation. The colours look rich and vibrant and the screen is susceptible to very little glare.
The audio on the device is what you can expect from an average laptop. The speakers are loud, lack bass and have a high midrange. The speakers are located on the front panel of the device. Its placement is pretty ideal if the device is used on as the sound bounces off the table enhancing the volume a bit.
You could listen to music and enjoy a 720p HD movie on this device with absolute ease. Just remember to turn down the brightness a bit when you are indoors or you're in for one hell of a headache.
Apart from being able to survive an accident, a drop and some insane amount of torture, this device also needs to be capable of doing mundane tasks like email, MS office and browsing the Internet along with the occasional gaming needs of the user.
In terms of the hardware under the hood, the device shows off some impressive specs. It has a 2.7GHz Intel core i7 processor, 4GB of RAM running a 64-bit Windows 7 OS and a 320GB HDD. It also has dual graphics i.e., Intel integrated and an Nvidia NVS 4200M graphics card. The 3D mark score was a bit disappointing at 2441 which means that you can't expect it to run all the latest games smoothly. If gaming is your focus we suggest you look at a much more delicate Alienware laptop.
On the PC mark score, the device scored 5462. That's an above average score and you can do all your everyday tasks along with a bit of heavy software use with ease.
The battery life of the device is a bit of a disappointment. Especially since the device is built to be used outdoors. Run the device to its fullest potential and it will last you a little over an hour and a half. Used sparingly however and the device may just carry on a bit more.
The power under the hood along with a great keyboard, fantastic display and rugged build make this device ideal for your camping trips. Just be prepared to endure the extra weight and space of the device. For around Rs. 1,00,000 this is targeted at the adventure sport hungry businessmen who needs access to a notebook all the time. The rest of us can do with a Mac or a high end Windows based gaming notebook for the same price.
Great display for outdoor use
Pointing stick is bad
Ease of setup: 4
Wow Factor: 3