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Dell toughens up notebook line

First ruggedized notebook from Dell that meets all U.S. military standards

Dell on Tuesday is expected to launch its first ruggedized notebook that meets all U.S. Department of Defense standards for durability and operation in extreme conditions.With a hardened cover, the Latitude XFR D630 notebook is shock-resistant and resists moisture, high altitude and high temperatures, said Brett McAnally, director of product marketing at Dell. The notebook has been tested to conform with standards established by the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) for laptops to operate in extreme environments, McAnally said.

It can run in environments from -20 degrees (-9 degrees Celsius) to 140 degrees fahrenheit (60 degrees Celsius). It also runs at altitudes as high as 15,000 feet. The laptop is sealed to resist moisture and dust.

The XFR D630 is available with a variety of dual-core Intel Core 2 Duo processors as fast as 2.4GHz with 4MB of cache. It includes integrated graphics processing, wired and wireless networking, a shock-resistant 80GB hard drive and a 14.1-inch LCD (liquid crystal display) screen with a hardened cover. It can be equipped with as much as 4GB of RAM and runs Windows XP Professional or Windows Vista.

The laptop weighs about 8.98 pounds (4 kilograms) and measures 2.6 by 13.9 by 10.2 inches (6.6 by 35.3 by 25.9 centimeters). It is priced at US$3,899 and will be available in the U.S. starting Tuesday. International availability has not yet been determined, a Dell spokesman said. “As we broaden customer engagement around the product, we’ll evaluate expansion,” he said.

The laptop is a more rugged version of Dell’s Latitude D630 laptop, which complies with some of the DOD’s rugged laptop requirements, but not all. The earlier laptop will remain on sale. The XFR D630 is targeted at an audience including the military, public-safety first responders and enterprises such as oil and gas exploration companies.

It gives Dell a chance to compete against companies such as Panasonic, which is known as the rugged laptop leader with its Toughbook series, Kay said.