If you need a laptop that's able to stand up to more abuse than your average business machine, Dell's semi-rugged Latitude E6410 ATG may appeal. In its base configuration, this 14.1-inch laptop will cost you £1,250. Our configuration packed in a powerful Intel Core i7 processor and touchscreen technology, bringing the total cost to £1,790.
More beast than beauty
Built to the US military's MIL-STD-810G standard, the E6410 is pretty ugly, but that's usually the case when it comes to ruggedised machines. The whole chassis has been reinforced with metal and, as a result, it's quite chunky, measuring 40mm thick. The matte black lid has a textured surface that should help protect against scratches. Most of the ports are covered with flip-down rubber stoppers to help keep dust particles out.
Inside, the laptop looks very similar to other Latitude models, with a matte black finish and small grilles over the speakers that are placed either side of the keyboard. The keyboard uses traditional tapered keys and doesn't include a numerical keypad. But it's very comfortable to use, thanks to its rock-solid build quality and the significant amount of travel in the keys.
As with most of Dell's business machines, the E6410 has both a pointer and a trackpad. The pointer is pleasingly responsive. Although the trackpad is small, its smooth surface feels just right under your finger. But the trackpad buttons are set too far into the chassis for our liking -- your thumb tends to rub against the edge of the laptop when you press them.
It's not just the trackpad and pointer that can be used to control the laptop -- this model has a touchscreen display too. This uses resistive technology, but it's fairly sensitive to touch input, so it's good at registering lighter taps. It doesn't support multi-touch gestures, though, so you can't pinch your fingers together to zoom in on pictures, maps and Web pages.
The screen is LED-backlit, which makes it very bright, and the anti-glare coating helps to cut down on reflections. Its resolution of 1,280x800 pixels isn't exactly amazing, but, as this model is likely to spend a good deal of time outdoors, extra brightness is probably more important than a crisper resolution.
The laptop's connectivity is pretty good, including Wi-Fi and Bluetooth support. You also get four USB ports, both VGA and DisplayPort outputs, a Smart Card reader and a mini-FireWire socket. Storage needs are taken care of by a 250GB hard drive with a free-fall sensor, and there's also a DVD writer.