New Dell Latitude 7220 Rugged Extreme: New Features Enhance Durability
Andrew Wheeler posted on November 04, 2019 |
Dive into Dell's process for creating tablet features that stand up to harsh conditions

(Image courtesy of Dell.)

(Image courtesy of Dell.)

FirstNet is the public safety communications platform in use by America's first responders, public safety and service utility organizations. These workers using FirstNet benefit from a special class of computing hardware called rugged computers. To ruggedize a product means to make it much less vulnerable to adverse events that occur in harsher-than-normal environmental circumstances. Militaries also use rugged devices to protect them from damage. Pretty much any product can be ruggedized, including servers, laptops, phones and tablets.

Using FirstNet on computing devices like tablets protects the information gathered on the portable devices in tough situations. They cost more than a normal version of a tablet, but the idea is to offset the cost an organization would incur due to damage and replacement. For example, Dell recently announced the Latitude 7220 Rugged Extreme tablet, and it has some interesting features that give FirstNet users, or engineers in the field, a reliable tool that can take a beating.

The Latitude 7220 has an enhanced 1000 nits FHD (Full High Definition) display (a nit is a measurement of brightness equivalent to one candela per square meter. Most iPhones have a peak brightness of 500 nits). The display has anti-glare coatings to provide clarity in direct sunlight. Many first responders and other FirstNet users wear gloves, so the Latitude 7220 has features that allow for glove responsiveness, including multi-touch movements. Dell claims its chassis is more durable than the previous version, the Latitude 7212 Rugged Extreme. But the cost in weight is offset by the increased durability.

FirstNet was built in a partnership between AI&T and the First Responder Network Authority to help first responders stay on top of a variety of critical emergency responses. It gives them access to medical records and allows them to video conference with others in the network if the situation calls for it. 

The hardware of the Latitude 7220 is customizable depending on the user's needs. This includes options such as having the most recent 8th Generation Core Processors and the ever-so-reliable PCIe solid state drives. 

There are some pretty rigorous tests that a computing device goes through in order to be certifiably rugged. The Latitude 7220 Rugged Extreme tablet passed MIL-STD-810G/H testing. It is also IP-65 rated meaning that damaging things like water ingress, dirt, dust and other particulate matter won't affect the tablet's performance. It also has Class 1 and Div. 2 certifications, functions in -20 to 145°F (-29 to 63°C), and was drop tested from 4ft. 

Users can also customize the tablet with an optional dual-hot swappable battery, so the device remains functional during critical moments where the battery needs to be replaced during an emergency.

Connectivity would be a challenge to ruggedize, since it really depends on a lot of factors during a variety of real-time use cases. The tablet connects through 802.11ax Wi-Fi and the usual global 4G LTE broadband. It also has assignable RF pass-through options for WWAN, WLAN and GPS. This gives users a slightly better chance of staying connected no matter where they are, but no connectivity is impervious to dead zones in remote areas.

Bottom Line

The Latitude 7220 Rugged Extreme is a special tablet for first responders or engineers who can't worry about being delicate with their tools. However, it seems expensive for a single tablet. It just hit the market on the 29th of October and retails for $1800.

For more information on Dell's Rugged testing process, click here.

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