The Dell Latitude ATG D620 (£1558 inc. VAT) is ideal for those working in fairly hardous environments. This machine takes a standard D620 chassis but adds strength to key areas.
The hinges and the back of the screen have been given an extra thick layer of magnesium-alloy that makes the panel feel far tougher. It isn't as robust as the fully-ruggedised machines from Panasonic, which will comfortably take the weight of a man standing on them, but this panel can take a serious beating and still the screen won't be affected.
Naturally, the knock-on effect of extra cladding comes in some extra weight, but at 3kg, the overall weight isn't too much of a disadvantage. We used it out and about for a few days and found it performed exceptionally well.
To deal with a variety of lighting conditions, Dell has raised the brightness from a standard 200 to 500NITS, making this an extremely bright panel. If you still find yourself in the dark, twin spot lights have been built into the screen surround, so you can type in any lighting conditions. This has an effect on battery life, but there is an ambient light sensor built in, so when you're not in dark locations, the panel will dim slightly.
The bottom half of the D620 hasn't been treated to quite the same level of protection. While the keyboard has a spill-resistant layer, you'll find it isn't a sealed unit, so users won't be able to use the laptop in damp or wet conditions.
To meet the military standard for dust protection, you'll find that most of the ports have a rubber seal. This works well on the back, as it is an all-in-one cover that is firmly attached to the base of the system.
Less appealing is the small rubber bung used to fill the two USB 2.0 ports on the right-hand side. This pops out and isn't attached, so can easily be lost. It isn't a closed unit either, as it has a fan inside, so while Dell is keen to talk up the semi-rugged aspect of the system, it's not as versatile as we'd have hoped.
The hard drive in our test sample came with a shock-absorbent sleeve. A standard 4200rpm hard disk encased in rubber, it will readily take knocks and drops. You can specify a faster drive, but they currently don't support the shock absorber, so you'll have to trade speed for protection.
The Dell Latitude ATG D620 is clearly a niche product and while it doesn't strive to be anything other than a tougher Latitude, it sits neatly in the range. If you need something a little more robust, this laptop does a great job of fitting in with your current setup.