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Dell Unveils Ruggedized Convertible Latitude PC

The Latitude 12 Rugged Extreme system can be used as either a traditional laptop or, when the screen is flipped, a tablet.

Dell last year introduced its XPS 12 convertible device, which can be used as a traditional laptop or—when its "ferris wheel" screen is flipped—as a tablet. Now the systems maker is putting that same capability into one of its newest ruggedized notebooks.

Dell officials April 2 unveiled the Latitude 12 Rugged Extreme convertible notebook and Latitude Extreme notebook. The systems are designed to handle challenges presented in such areas as the military, public safety and manufacturing, including dust, heat, moisture, drops, extreme temperatures and vibration.

"With new ground-up design and industry-first innovations, the Latitude 12 and 14 Rugged Extreme mark the beginning of a renewed and expanded commitment by Dell to the rugged space," Kirk Schell, a former Naval officer and current vice president of commercial PCs for Dell's Client Solutions Group, said in a statement.

Panasonic, General Dynamics and other vendors also offer a range of systems designed for harsh environments.

The Latitude 12 Rugged Extreme can be used in a traditional notebook style. However, like the XPS 12, its screen can be flipped 180 degrees on a hinge, and the device can then be used as a tablet.

Both systems are built with impact resistant ultra-polymers and magnesium alloy, and they feature sealed doors and compression gaskets to protect data. Dell's QuadCool thermal management technology is designed to let the systems continue running at high temperatures.

In addition, the systems feature a display that reduces glare in harsh sunlight and sealed backlit keyboards, and the Latitude 12 Rugged Extreme also offers resistive multitouch technology that enables it to recognize intuitive gestures from users wearing thick gloves, and an 8-megapixel bottom camera with flash.

The systems offer battery life of 8.5 (for the Latitude 12) to 14 hours (for the Latitude 14), are powered by Intel Core chips, and bring up to 16GB of memory and up to 512GB of solid-state storage (SSD).

The Latitude 12 Rugged Extreme convertible will be available May 6 starting at $3,649, while the Latitude 14 Rugged Extreme will hit the market in mid-May starting at $3,499.