Need a heavy duty computer? Check out the Latitude 14 Rugged

Business class notebooks like Dell’s Latitude, HP’s EliteBook, and Lenovo’s ThinkPad are built to be more durable than average, but they’re not true “rugged” notebooks. They remain very vulnerable to drops, dust, and water. Users who need real durability have to turn to something more serious – like the new Dell Latitude 14 Rugged.

The Rugged’s protection comes from its Latitude Rugged Extreme chassis, which provides full protection against drops up to three feet as well as an IP-52 certification against contaminants. While not entirely sealed, the Rugged can protect itself from dripping water, and dust-filled environments. This is a big leap up from a standard notebook, which can easily be destroyed by spilling a dab of water near a fan vent or on the keyboard.

Dell has built this notebook to endure more than just physical threats, however. It can be used with the company’s Data Protection services, and can store encryption keys in a secure environment.

Buyers can outfit the Latitude 14 Rugged with a variety of 4th-generation Intel Core i3, i5 and i7 processors. Up to 16GB of RAM can be added, and a range hard drives, including SSDs up to 512GB, and a 1TB hybrid drive are available. Nvidia’s GT 720M GPU is an option, though it can only drive a 1366 x 768 “outdoor-readable” touchscreen. Sorry, no 1080p here.

The basic hardware choices are supplemented by a huge list of wireless connectivity that includes 802.11n and 802.11ac Wi-Fi, several mobile broadband options, and dedicated GPS as well. The physical connectivity roster includes two USB 3.0, two USB 2.0, two RS-232 serial ports, two Ethernet jacks, a combo audio jack, VGA, HDMI, and a memory card reader. Users can further expand the system using its ExpressCard, PCMCIA, and M.2 slots. An optical drive is available as an option too.

That’s not all, either. Buyers can also pick from four battery options with 58, 65, 87, or 97 watt-hours of capacity. The 58 and 87 watt-hour models are “long life cycle” batteries designed to handle multiple charge/discharge cycles per day.

Another unusual feature is the notebook’s customizable RGB back-lit keyboard, which can be had in either a standard or rubberized flavor. This is the first rugged notebook we know of that includes a color customizable back-light.

The amount of hardware Dell has packed into this 14-inch notebook is impressive, but it leads to some considerable bulk that you’ll have to lug around. The Latitude 14 Rugged will weigh 6.6 pounds with its standard 65 watt-hour battery. It also measures over 44 millimeters thick. That’s roughly twice the size and weight of the Dell Latitude 14 3000, a mainstream business notebook Dell also revealed today.

Pricing and availability is not yet available. Dell warned us that all information is still preliminary and may be subject to change. This article will be updated if we receive more specific information.