Dell's Latitude ATG (All Terrain Grade) D630 is full of surprises, including a solid-state hard drive, but for $3,211 we expected a few extras, like mobile broadband or a DVD burner, for example. More importantly, we expected a semi-rugged notebook that could handle a few ounces of water.
The 6.3-pound gun-metal-gray ATG D630 comes with rubber bumpers but is generally appealing enough to take out in public. Beneath the sturdy magnesium-alloy lid is a bright 14.1-inch widescreen display with a 1280 x 800-pixel resolution and a sensor that adjusts the screen's brightness depending on lighting conditions. Two red task lights in the display's upper bezel provide sufficient illumination to see the keyboard in the dark without annoying those around you.
Comfortable Keyboard and Touchpad
The full-sized keyboard was roomy and comfortable, with large auxiliary keys. We wish the keys had a little more spring, but they're plenty good for most users. We love that Dell includes a trackpoint cursor controller and a touchpad, which you can disable when you're not using it. A biometric fingerprint reader is also part of the package, and the system has a nice assortment of connectivity ports, including four USB ports, a FireWire port, SmartCard and PC Card slots, and modem and Ethernet ports.
Reinforced lid hinges, rubber port covers, and a shock-mounted hard drive help protect the ATG D630 from drops and debris, while a water-resistant keyboard deck is supposed to protect against spillage. The ATG D630 meets the MIL-STD-810F specs for vibration, humidity, and altitude, and Dell claims the system can handle multiple angle drops from a height of 29 inches (a typical desktop height). The company also claims that the keyboard can take up to three ounces of liquid spilled over three different places.
Dell Latitude ATG D630 Durability
While the ATG D630 made it through our drop tests without a hitch, it didn't fare so well when it came to our spill tests. As soon as the first ounce of water touched the keyboard, the screen went black. It bounced back quickly, but after we poured the remaining two ounces of water, the system shut down completely. Even after wiping the keyboard down and letting it drain for four hours, the ATG D630 continued to shut itself down and wouldn't start Windows until three days later.
Respectable Processor Speed and Graphics Performance
Our configuration came with a 32GB solid-state hard drive, not the most spacious, but it speeds up the boot sequence. Additionally, the lack of moving parts means it's much less susceptible than a traditional hard drive to failure due to sudden shock. With its 2.2-GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7500 processor and 2GB of memory, the ATG D630 turned in a respectable score of 4,231 on our PCMark05 tests--the best of the group--but its integrated Intel GMA X3100 graphics card managed a score of only 1,761 on our 3DMark03 tests, the lowest of all the semi-ruggeds we tested. Battery life results were much better; the system lasted a strong 4 hours and 2 minutes with Wi-Fi enabled, which led the pack by a good margin.
The ATG D630 can be configured with various wireless components, such as an 802.11a/g/n wireless adapter, which was included in our test system and turned in solid throughput scores of 18.3 and 15.1 (15 feet and 50 feet from our access point, respectively), as well as Bluetooth, GPS, and EV-DO.
Dell's Damage Service Plan
For $149, you can upgrade Dell's standard support package for a more comprehensive three-year CompleteCare Accidental Damage Service plan, which protects against drops and spills, which is odd, given that a semi-rugged notebook is designed to endure such mishaps. Still, considering how it performed on our tests, this may not be such a bad idea.
Dell Latitude ATG D630: Tough Enough?
There's no doubt that the ATG D630 is tough enough to handle the occasional drop, and it certainly has the muscle to handle whatever business apps you throw at it, but if you're prone to keyboard spills, this notebook may not be the best choice.