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Dell’s Latitude Rugged notebooks get slimmer and more powerful

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Construction workers, firefighters, or soldiers need laptops just like the rest of us, but more often than not, the primary spec they look at is durability.

Good news for them, then: Dell is refreshing its Latitude Rugged laptop line today with a focus on better portability and more power. The new 5420, 5424, and 7424 notebooks have eighth-generation Intel processors and durable builds.

The 5424 keeps the design ethos of the brand but drops legacy peripheral support for a thinner design.

The 5424 keeps the design ethos of the brand but drops legacy peripheral support for a thinner design.

To get the weight down, the entry-level 5420 ditches the optical drive (still a demand on many rugged notebooks), a PCMIA card reader (used for legacy diagnostic peripherals like firewire), and the option for multiple hard drives. However, the overall weight is just 4.9 pounds.

The base model has a 14-inch 1,920 x 1,080 anti-glare display, an eighth-generation Intel Core i5 processor, and a 128GB SSD. Upgrade options include a touchscreen and a Core i7 quad-core processor with AMD Radeon graphics.

Dell’s 5424 and 7424 are more powerful, with a boost from sixth-generation generation to eighth-generation Intel processors. That power comes at a price: $1,499 starting for the 5424 and $3,399 for the 7424. Not only are those prices more than the entry-level model, they’re $200 and $100 up from the previous generation). Out of the box, they each have a 14-inch full HD anti-glare display, but you can opt for a touchscreen for a premium. Both support up to three hard drives inside.

The 7424  can handle some pretty frigid temperatures.

The 7424  can handle some pretty frigid temperatures.

You have two options for graphics across the line: built-in graphics on the Intel chip, or standalone AMD Radeon graphics. The standalone model will let you perform more visually challenging tasks for a cost.

The range of processors allows for cross-compatibility with Windows 7 and Windows 10. With the ability to have multiple hard drives on the 5424 and 7424, you’ll also to be able to switch between operating systems easily. 

Hot-swappable batteries across the lineup

With dual batteries, running out of power is less of a concern.

With dual batteries, running out of power is less of a concern.

You now have two battery slots on the bottom, allowing you to hot-swap them. If one nears 0%, you can pop one in the other slot to keep going. However, removing both will leave no power to run the laptop. All three have two battery slots, but only the 5424 and 7424 include two batteries in the box.

All of the models meet the MIL-STD-810G durability specification, meaning they’re resistant to drops (up to 3 feet) and temperature extremes (between -20°F and 140°F degrees Fahrenheit). Panasonic’s Toughbook 31 meets the same MIL-STD-810G rating. The 7424 is the most rugged of the bunch since it can handle drops of up to 6 feet and a -20°F to 145°F temperature range.

The entire line is compatible with AT&T’s FirstNet network, a nationwide cellular network designed for first responders, via a micro SIM card slot.

Obviously, with any line of rugged notebooks, you’re paying a premium. Starting prices are higher than previous years, but you need to factor in the improved processors. The updated line is available now from Dell starting at $1,399 for 5420, $1,499 for 5424, and $3,499 for 7424.

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