Dell has launched its Latitude Rugged Extreme 7424 and Rugged 5424 and 5420 range of notebooks, which have proven their toughness in jungle warfare scenarios and in the laboratory.
As well as improved ruggedness and the ability to survive hot, cold, wet and dusty environments, the new range delivers brighter and sharper full high-definition displays and feature hot-swappable dual-batteries with a combined charge that can last more than 14 hours.
Dell vice president and general manager for Rugged Tom Tobul opened the October launch event in London, saying: “Think about the environment in which these devices need to operate in terms of drops and shocks, changes of temperature, and being able to use the touchscreen with gloved hands. To be able to comprehend these user scenarios out in the field, we spend a lot of time talking to users of our devices and improving them, generation over generation, to make sure that they continue to support changes in the way that they work.
“One of the ones that you’ll see in the latest products is a change in the brightness, so you’ll get as much as 1,000 nits [candela per square metre] of brightness out of the screen, so that when you’re outside on a sunny day you can still see the data that’s on the screen. Access to data in the field is vital, so having wireless WAN capability over cellular or 4G is increasingly important.”
Tobul continued: “Battery operation needs to support all-day computing – it would be bad out in the field if the system wouldn’t boot up, you couldn’t get access to the data, find the map, or find where your colleagues are. We spend a lot of time with our users in understanding how they’re using our devices, the changes that they need us to make on the next generations, and continue to refine those products.”
Tobul explained that Dell has continued to remove weight from its devices between generations without losing ruggedness. The Latitude 5420 rugged laptop is up to 22% lighter and thinner and weighs just 2.22kg.
“The commercial scale and the global availability that we bring across why Dell is important in this space,” added Tobul. “We have a rugged-specific engineering team, a rugged-specific lab ramping it up from an engineering perspective, and we are continuing to focus on innovating in this space, such as enabling five- or ten-fingered touch on the screen with a gloved hand.”
Jungle warfare expert and technical director of survival equipment company Crib Gogh Steve Heaword tested Dell’s rugged range in extreme environments during disaster relief missions and jungle warfare exercises.
“The key to a successful operation is equipment and the quality of training of the troops,” he said.
“The Dell Rugged range has been tested in a number of operational capabilities; one of those was Jelebu in Malaysia which is probably one of the most hostile places on the planet. A soldier is the most important resource in any army. However, the kit and equipment they carry is an important part of the equation as well.
“We depend on high-quality technology solutions to support problems faced by our soldiers in everyday events and complex environments,” Heaword continued. “Our kit needs to be mobile, resilient and available, and above all rugged. Dell rugged devices provide us with a mobile, resilient information platform that allows passage of information rapidly across the battlespace.”
Heaword highlighted two scenarios in which Dell’s range demonstrated their durability. During one jungle exercise, he had to drop a rucksack containing a Dell Rugged tablet and a semi-rugged laptop in a mangrove swamp for 30 minutes to escape dangerous krait snakes. After retrieving the rucksack and drying out the devices, they powered up and worked as expected.
In another, troops set up a remote command and control centre which they moved regularly to track enemy movements. The Dell rugged laptops were charged off-grid under a canopy in often rainy weather using solar mats capturing low-level sunlight, infra-red and ultraviolet wavelengths, but still managed to keep running for 18 weeks.
The range comes with the latest generation of Intel quad-core processors, AMD graphics chips, next-gen Cat16 4G/LTE communication and have a new active cooling solution. The 7424 and 5424 offer an optional Blu-Ray burner for maximum data storage density.