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Dell Goes Off Beaten Path With Latitude 12 Rugged Tablet

By - Source: Toms IT Pro
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In a competitive landscape that has been obsessed with thinner, sleeker and prettier, there has emerged a need for computing devices that can be taken "out there" where things can sometimes happen. Things like spills, and bumps, and drops, and dirt, and dust, and maybe some water, are the price you pay for taking your devices outside of the cubicle. Dell responded to this need with its Rugged portfolio, a series of laptop computers designed less with sexy in mind, and more with durability as the primary concern.

The new Latitude 12 Rugged Tablet is the first tablet to earn the Rugged designation. Dell said the new tablet is designed with "extreme conditions" in mind. The company's marketing said it's even suitable for an off-shore oil rig or limestone quarry. For most people, what "rugged" means is that it will work outside, while they are doing something that isn't standard computer work. What we are talking about is a device that can get dirty, dropped, or wet without being destroyed.

Dell codified this by noting that the Latitude 12 Rugged Tablet is MIL-STD-810G and IP-810G certified. (The short version is that it will survive 26 drops from 48 inches.) Though rated against rain and humidity, it is not designed to be submerged in water.

"Whether it's a first responder to an emergency or an avid outdoorsman scaling an untouched summit for the first time, Dell's Latitude 12 Rugged Tablet is built to deliver the performance they need, wherever they need it, without worrying about what their environment throws at them," said Drew Moore, executive director and general manager, Rugged Mobility Products at Dell.

Many of the so-called extreme conditions occur outside, maybe in bad weather. The Latitude 12 Rugged has an 11.6-inch (1366 x 768) Direct-View HD display visible in direct sunlight. The screen is multi-touch sensitive and glove-enabled, meaning you can use it even when wearing leather gloves. It also works when wet, so you don't have to dry it and pull off your gloves while shielding the screen to use the tablet.

The tablet has "Fourth Generation QuadCool fan-based thermal management" and fifth-gen Intel Core M processors, up to 8 GB LPDDR3-1600 MHz RAM, and up to 512 GB of SSD storage (128 GB and 256 GB configurations also available). Supported operating systems include Windows 8.1 Pro, Windows 10 Pro, Windows 10, and Windows 7 Professional. Dell claimed up to 12 hours of battery life; however, that takes two batteries, and it only comes with one standard.

For connectivity, it supports 802.11 ac Wi-Fi, optional 4G LTE and dedicated GPS. On the ports side, there is a USB 3.0, micro serial port, micro HDMI, and a microSD card reader, plus a stereo audio combo jack.

When you go rugged, you stop being the smallest and the lightest, and indeed, the Latitude 12 Rugged Tablet weighs 3.57 pounds (with one battery), and is 12.3 x 8.0 x 0.96 inches.

For use when you do get back inside, the Latitude 12 Rugged Tablet has a pogo-pin docking interface so you can connect to a desktop dock, or vehicle dock, and a full-size keyboard. There is also an optional full-size keyboard cover with backlighting and an IP-65 rating if typing on the go is a requirement.

The company said the Dell Latitude 12 Rugged Table will be available in the U.S. by the end of July but did not disclose pricing.

Update, 7/22/15, 12:55pm: Dell confirmed that pricing will start at $1,600. That's quite a premium for ruggedness, but there you have it.