Dell has kitted out its latest all terrain business laptop with Ivy Bridge chips and plenty of hard-wearing features, but it doesn't offer the level of customisation we're used to.
Dell’s Latitude laptops are well-respected business machines, and the ATG-branded editions ratchet these hard-wearing corporate workhorses up a notch. The three initials stand for All Terrain Grade, which means Dell has made plenty of changes to ensure this particular Latitude can withstand the toughest of working conditions.
Hard as nails
Many of Dell's enhancements are obvious. The exterior is different from the average Latitude, for instance: the lid is constructed from anodised aluminium, and it's bordered by textured strips of magnesium alloy.
The hinges that connect the halves of the laptop are made from thick steel, and the corners on the bottom boast yet more metal, with more magnesium alloy used here, and the base is powder-coated - a process which, Dell claims, makes the machine more hard-wearing.
The rugged device comes with a 15in screen and has superb build quality
Build quality, as expected, is without reproach. There's no give in the Dell's thick screen, and the wristrest is similarly strong. The powder-coated base, meanwhile, is also rock-solid, and overall we'd say it's even tougher than the Precision M6700 workstation. It's also possible to get a briefcase-style handle, so you can carry the device around without a case.
The trackpad is responsive and its accompanying buttons just as comfortable. They're partnered by a mid-keyboard trackpad. Dell has not taken any risk with a keyboard, opting for a sensible layout and responsive keys solid typing action.
Many of Dell's other design touches are less obvious but just as pleasing. The ports - which include several USB sockets, HDMI and D-SUB outputs, Ethernet and eSATA - are hidden behind rubber flaps to prevent them being clogged by dust and dirt, and the keyboard is spill-resistant. A spring-loaded catch on the base can be used to remove the optical drive and, on the other side of the machine, the hard disk is held in with a pair of screws and secured in a shock-absorbing rubber caddy.
The screen is the one disappointment here. The resolution of 1,366 x 768 is poor on a 15in machine, even one that's designed to be rugged, and this resolution is matched by middling quality.
The average Delta E of 6.8, for instance, means the ATG is capable of merely middling colour accuracy – the Apple MacBook Pro averaged 1.4 – and, while the Dell’s brightness level of 674cd/m2 is much better than the Apple’s 333cd/m2, the Latitude didn’t match its extreme brightness with good contrast: the ATG’s 618:1 pales in comparison to the Apple’s 1,023:1, and it means darker colours simply aren’t as deep or distinctive.
OS: Windows 7 Professional 32-bit
PROCESSOR: XX Intel Core i5-3320M
RAM: 4GB DDR3
STORAGE: 128GB SSD
SCREEN: 14in 1,366 x 768
CONNECTIVITY: 802.11n WiFi, Gigabit Ethernet, Bluetooth 4.0
PORTS: 3 x USB 3,eSATA, HDMI, D-SUB, smart card reader, ExpressCard slot, SD card slot
OPTICAL DRIVE: DVD writer
DIMENSIONS: 360 x 247 x 34mm (WxDxH)
WARRANTY: 3yr RTB warranty