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Review Dell Latitude E6400 XFR

Bulletproof.

The Dell Latitude E6400 XFR is the extra robust version of the E6400 business notebook and direct competition to the Panasonic Toughbook CF-19. The XFR can score points through the compatibility of the E6400 and the stable construction. How the "field notebook" turned out in the review, find out in the following report.

Dell Latitude E6400 XFR in review
Dell Latitude E6400 XFR in review

We were able to take a closer look at the robust Dell Latitude E6400 XFR outdoor notebook at the Dell Technology Camp. The XFR version of the E6400 distinguishes itself through the compatibility to the E6400 series (e.g. the image compatibility important for the company). In addition it is currently the only notebook specified according to IP65 with a strong CPU and dedicated graphics chip. This enables a splash-proof ventilator with a heat pipe construction - named Quad Cool.

The Quad-Cool fan simply cools a heat pipe which leads into the closed system.
The Quad-Cool fan simply cools a heat pipe which leads into the closed system.

Case & Design

The case is clearly thicker than on the normal E6400 and manufactured from PR481. This special material is described by Dell as "ballistic armour" and should feature better characteristics than a magnesium alloy. Regarding the feel of the notebook, the surface strikes out with a mixture of metal and plastic. Additionally the rubber borders protect the massive case from damage from accidental drops.

When you touch the massive case of the ruggedized notebook, you'll get a very robust impression. Only the areas of the protective openings aren't fixed so cleanly, otherwise there is, however, no cause for complaint. Particularly the massive display hinges and the catch immediately stood out.

Regarding design the E6400 XFR is evocative of a tank rather than a notebook. However you should say in its defence that it is more of a fancy speedy light wheeled tank than a heavy armoured track vehicle ;).

Unfortunately the weight of the outdoor laptop is also comparable to a small tank. At almost 4 kg with the small battery, the integrated carrying handle is very helpful.

The corners protected by rubber contain nuts on the front side, in which you can fix a strap.
The corners protected by rubber contain nuts on the front side, in which you can fix a strap.

Connectivity

The connectivity of the XFR is geared towards the normal E6400 and forces the user to make no kind of compromises. As highlights you can find a Displayport, eSATA, UMTS, RFID reader, fingerprint reader and a SD card reader. For desktop use the E6400 XFR offers a docking station connection. With a small adaptor (which due to the depth of the case must be used) all normal docking stations of the Latitude E series can be used.

The connections are protected against water and dust by coverings.
The connections are protected against water and dust by coverings.

Input devices

The keyboard of the Latitude can be ordered in two different versions. A "normal" keyboard with backlit keys and a keyboard for use in extreme conditions which is made from rubber are offered. In our test device there was the "normal" keyboard which minimally bowed from use. The individual keys were normal size and offered a soft attack. Overall fluent 10-finger typing was immediately possible.

As mouse replacement the E6400 XFR offers a touchpad and a trackpoint. In the test the trackpoint was somewhat oversensitive and thus somewhat unpleasant in use. Here Dell should take a closer look at the Lenovo Thinkpads. A further disadvantage of the trackpoint is the lack of dedicated keys. Here the keys of the touchpad must be used.

The touchpad of the robust laptop turned out to be very small, however it offers good gliding qualities. In the installed Windows 7 preview the cursor was very slow (despite maximum speed setting). The rubberised touchpad keys offered soft feedback and responded well all-round.

Keyboard, trackpoint and touchpad on the XFR
Keyboard, trackpoint and touchpad on the XFR

Display

The matte and bright display, designed for outdoor use, is somewhat grainy.
The matte and bright display, designed for outdoor use, is somewhat grainy.

The outdoor-suited 14.1" display merely offers a WXGA resolution (1280x800 pixels) and thus not particularly much space on the panel. During outdoor use a higher resolution would however potentially make less sense. The rather "coarse-grained" presentation of the display was rather striking. In order to optimise the presentation during exposure to the sun's rays, Dell has apparently had to worsen the presentation indoors.

The maximum brightness of the display is convincing and is also adequate for outdoor use. The display is also optionally available as a touch-screen version.

Performance

Thanks to the high-performance equipment, the Dell Latitude E6400 XFR can also execute demanding applications without problems. The Quad Cool solution allows use of a strong CPU (e.g. in our sample a Core 2 Duo P9600) and also a dedicated business graphics card, the Quadro NVS 160M, can be used. In our benchmark tests the built-in hardware reached the expected good results and also with the battery in use the full CPU performance is available.

The Quadro NVS 160M is an entry level graphics card from Nvidia and optimised for stability. Compared to similarly available integrated graphics cards from Intel (GMA 4500MHD), the performance is clearly higher. For demanding 3D applications or games it does not, however, suffice.

3D Mark
3DMark 06
 1280x800
1841 points
Help
Cinebench R10 Rendering Single 32Bit
2971
Cinebench R10 Rendering Multiple CPUs 32Bit
5507
Cinebench R10 Shading 32Bit
2663
Help
Cinebench R10 Rend. Multi (32bit) in comparison
Lenovo IdeaPad S12 (min)
 N270, GeForce 9400M (G) / ION (LE)
482
   ...
Lenovo IdeaPad Z585
 A10-4600M, Radeon HD 7660G + HD 7670M Dual Graphics
5495
Lenovo B570e-N2F23GE
 B960, HD Graphics (Sandy Bridge)
5500
Dell Latitude E6400 XFR
 P9600, Quadro NVS 160M
5507
MSI S30-i3U465 Slim
 3217U, HD Graphics 4000
5512
Acer Aspire 8942G-334G64Mn
 330M, Mobility Radeon HD 5650
5512
   ...
Eurocom Panther 5D (max)
 E5-2697 v2, Quadro K5100M
34776

Emissions

The development of temperature on the surfaces was positive in the test. Also according to our small benchmark run-through the palm rests remained cool.

The volume of the built-in fan could not be tested in detail due to the ambient noise. However the in-built fan remains unobtrusive at normal and low load. Only at full load the fan speeds up and can also become thoroughly loud.

The stereo loudspeakers built-in alongside the keyboard are somewhat limited in their presentation of sound due to the splash-proof protection. For speech and system noises they are, however, adequate.

The Quad-Cool fan pulls the air from the underside.
The Quad-Cool fan pulls the air from the underside.

Battery Life

The E6400 XFR is normally supplied with a 6-cell battery. Optionally you can also buckle on a 12-cell battery in addition, which should triple the running time. The integrated battery should bring a running time of around 3 hours. Here the strong CPU and dedicated graphics card reduce the running time (the competition mostly uses ULV processors). For mobile users without power socket options the (heavy) additional battery should be taken into account.

Verdict

The Dell Latitude XFR E6400 is a robust business notebook for outdoor use. It glistens through the high-performance hardware equipment, compatibility to the normal Latitude E series with adherence to IP65 standards (e.g. protected against splashes).

However, the battery life suffers somewhat with the integrated 6-cell battery due to the strong processor and dedicated graphics solution. The optional 12-cell battery to attach should be contemplated by mobile users in all cases.

The bright 14" display is completely suited to outdoor use, however you have to live with a somewhat coarse presentation.

At over 4000 Euro our test model is everything but a bargain buy, however you have to allow for such magnitudes for a high-performance and robust ruggedized notebook, unfortunately.

Dell Latitude E6400

Specifications

Dell Latitude E6400 XFR

:: Processor
:: Mainboard
Intel PM45
:: Memory
4096 MB, DDR2-800 6-6-6-18
:: Graphics adapter
NVIDIA Quadro NVS 160M - 256 MB, Core: 580 MHz, Memory: 400 MHz, 186.21
:: Display
14.1 inch 16:10, 1280x800 pixel, wide-aspect transmissive DirectVue, glossy: no
:: Harddisk
Samsung RBX Series 6, 64 GB
:: Soundcard
IDT 92HD71B7 @ Intel 82801IB ICH9 - High Definition Audio Controller
:: Connections
1 Express Card 54mm, 3 USB 2.0, 1 Firewire, 1 VGA, 1 DisplayPort, HDA CX11270 56K Modem, 1 Kensington Lock, 1 eSata, 1 Docking Station Port, Audio Connections: Headphones, Microphone, Card Reader: SD Card Reader, RFID, fingerprint, TPM Chip
:: Networking
Intel(R) 82567LM Gigabit Network Connection (10/100/1000MBit), Intel Wireless WiFi Link 5100 AGN (a b g n ), Dell Wireless 370 Bluetooth
:: Optical drive
HL-DT-ST CDRWDVD MU10N
:: Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 56 x 353 x 293
:: Weight
3.87 kg
:: Battery
Lithium-Ion, 6-cell or 12-cell battery
:: Price
4160 Euro
:: Operating System
Microsoft Windows Vista Business 32 Bit
:: Additional features
12 Months Warranty

 

[+] compare

Pro

+Very robust construction
+IP65 certification
+Matte display screen suitable for outdoor use
 

Cons

-High purchasing price
-High weight
-Grainy image presentation

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Archive of our own reviews > Dell Latitude E6400 XFR Ruggedized Notebook In Review
Author: Klaus Hinum, 2009-08- 2 (Update: 2013-06- 6)