As a freelance writer, one of my main concerns about taking my laptop out and about is damage to the device. Granted, I only work in the home, my car, the beach or in cafes but there is always the risk of scrapes, knocks, spills and environmental damage. That is where a device like the Dell Latitude 14 Rugged Extreme – 7414 would come in handy. It’s designed for even more challenging conditions than those I face with my laptop. I was given the chance to try a sample and here are my thoughts.
The Dell Latitude 14 Rugged Extreme 7414 has a rigid magnesium alloy backbone and built-in shock absorbent materials. It’s so tough that it meets military standard requirements. The entry points are all sealed by compression gaskets and are built to withstand sand, dust, and liquid. It’s tested to extreme temperatures and has fourth-generation QuadCool Thermal Management.
My first impression of the laptop was that it was super heavy. Being built to withstand such difficult environmental conditions means that this is crafted from tough materials and it’s not a lightweight device that you can simply throw into your bag before you leave the house. It’s a really sturdy piece of equipment. I was intrigued by the sealed entry points and of course, had to examine each and every one of them. Three of them were pretty easy to open and close and the rest were quite stiff and difficult. This is where all the USB and Ethernet ports are so these are entry points you would use on a daily basis and hopefully the compression gaskets would loosen up over time.
It was easy to switch on a just a quick depress of the power button was enough to get it going. The next thing that struck me was the screen’s image quality. It was excellent, even working in bright light outdoors. That’s an issue I have with my usual laptop and I found that this device was much easier to use in bright light.
What I really liked about this device is that the backlit keyboard can be switched on and off. A problem I found with another laptop I tried recently was that the backlit keyboard just wouldn’t go off and was distracting. Being designed with the military in mind, this allows you to switch it off quite easily by depressing Fn and F10 to switch the lights to their lowest brightness setting, then repeating this combination cycles through the settings until they are brightest or off completely. You can also change the colours and choose from white, red, green and blue. The keyboard itself doesn’t click a lot when typing. It is fairly quiet but I found the spacing of the keys a little difficult to navigate at first but that isn’t unusual when switching from one keyboard to the next. I did find that the right hand shift key needed a little extra stretching to reach. It’s a minor issue but if you’re a touch typist with short fingers it’s something to keep in mind.
The biggest issue I had was with using the touchpad which lacked sensitivity. It was difficult to operate and I found myself getting frustrated with the way I had to keep pressing and sliding my finger numerous times just to get a connection. The pointer didn’t seem to be moving at all at times. This could really be improved. What I did find really easy to use was the touchscreen function. It works much better than using the touchpad. To test the promises that were made about using this in cold conditions, I stuck my stylus in the freezer for an hour. It still worked on the screen! I also rubbed my fingertips on an ice cube so they were both cold and dam and again, it worked. It looks the touchscreen really is weather resistant.
I used this laptop for a periods of around 4 or 5 hours. I didn’t find any overheating problems in that time. The battery lasted about as long as expected. On the second day it was ready to be charged. This falls in line with the promises made that the battery can last up to ten hours. I would feel confident that if I took this laptop out for the day without a charger, it wouldn’t let me down.
Since I am a freelance writer and don’t work in environmentally challenging conditions, it’s difficult for me to say this is suitable for building sites or the military etc. However, I can see that this is without a doubt the sturdiest computer I have ever used and the way it is presented, with a tough outer casing and encased ports gives me confidence in its ability to withstand challenging conditions. The only real issue I had was the frustrating touchpad and this can be easily solved by using the touchscreen or a mouse instead.
Overall, it would be a good investment for businesses who need a tough laptop that won’t fall apart at the slightest knock. The Dell Latitude 14 Rugged Extreme 7414 is available to buy from Amazon for £2,710.80 at the time this review was published and you can read more about it on the Dell website.