Today we’re reviewing Dell’s Latitude 14 Rugged edition. It’s much like the laptop that you saw Mark Watney using in space in The Martian. While this tough book wouldn’t survive exposure to the vacuum of space, it will put up with a lot of abuse. But we’ll get to that. First, the user experience.

Here we’ve got a laptop with a 14-inch touch screen that meets military specification requirements. It’s super bulky, but that’s sort of the point. You can use this thing with confidence on a construction site, in a police cruiser, or perhaps in space. Its covered in rubber edges that prevent it from slipping off sheer surfaces. Every possible opening where liquid could seep in is closed off with a rubber flap as well.

It’s not just built for punishment, it’s also built to perform. The hard drive is solid state, the CPU a fourth generation Intel Core processor. It has options for a discrete graphics card and up to 16 GB of memory. It will run up to 14 hours on a full battery charge. This model came running Windows 7, but we opted to upgrade it to Windows 10 to start taking advantage of the touch screen.

It also comes with a stylus. That’d be handy for completing forms on site and even collecting signatures. But where are we supposed to store this thing? We found it falls out of the holder very easily. That’s annoying, especially in a low gravity environment.

This laptop is also tough from a security point of view. Authorized access can be ensured using a smart card reader, with a contactless option. Or there’s a fingerprint reader. You can also store credentials on an integrated Trusted Platform Module. Dell also includes a host of software that will help you with endpoint security.

Dell sells a dock to pair with the Latitude, and we really recommend it. There’s so many stupid flaps on this thing. You’ll get sick of opening them every time you sit down and want to plug in a few accessories.

Finally, remember that this thing is heavy. It comes with a built-in handle for a reason. If you want to use this laptop a lot, you might want to start doing some bicep curls. And it’s not cheap, you are paying for the durability here. The Dell Latitude Rugged Extreme 14 starts at $3,499 US.

We put this laptop through a series of punishing tests – honestly some were beyond what military specifications are even supposed to protect against – and it held up pretty well. Watch the video above to see this laptop get dropped, dusted, and soaked.

Though we will note that we’re having some trouble with the one moving part on the laptop – the optical drive. Sometimes burning a disc just fails. Also, the keyboard has randomly stopped working for periods of time. Good thing the touch screen offers a virtual keyboard.

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  • Okay, as CIO, I’m prejudiced, but you did a great job Brian. You and your team kept me laughing and educated me. And I’ll be scrutinizing purchase orders to make sure that we aren’t spending too much on repairs for Richard’s laptop. He looked like he enjoyed abusing that rugged laptop a little too much. And by the way, your data bill just arrived – you really have to do something about these roaming charges!