There are other niggles that point to less than perfect design and build quality, too. As shown in the video the adhesive around the touchpad had come unstuck on our sample, which though only cosmetic shows a lack of attention to detail. More concerning are the I/O protection doors and the carry handle.
Of course, as we’ve already outlined, those doors did a less than perfect job of keeping water out, but that’s not their only problem. With the exception of the battery compartment, none of the doors are double locked. Moreover, the slide-across locks make them far too prone to popping open if dropped or if lightly brushed by another object. As for the handle, its ordinary plastic hinges make it far too flexible and delicate for our liking, which seems a silly oversight given the rest of the machine’s sturdy materials.
Another potential weakness is battery life. By ordinary standards it’s not bad at all, particularly given the display is much brighter (500 nits) than ordinary laptop screens, but the three hours 37 minutes in the Productivity segment won’t shine a candle to the Panasonic ToughBook CF-30 or similar, low-voltage laptops that can produce upwards of six hours. This battery life can be extended by adding a rugged battery slice, but this will add weight and cost, so getting ‘all day’ use from the XFR won’t come cheap.
Naturally, on the flip side of this argument, the E6400 XFR kicks all-comers into touch where application performance is concerned. Indeed, thanks to the fast processor and SSD, the E6400 XFR is one of the fastest laptops we’ve had through our office, producing a score of over 5,000 in PCMark Vantage. Its discrete graphics gives it another edge, which might come in useful if you need to use graphical intensive applications.
This performance prowess is ultimately the saving grace of the E6400 XFR. It’s clearly not without its problems and isn’t the product that will kill the ToughBook CF-30, not by a long stretch, but if you do need a powerful laptop that can tough it out in potentially hazardous environments then it’s still a decent option. It remains to be seen if the market wants such an alternative, but the XFR delivers it nonetheless.
Overall, the E6400 XFR is a deliberately different proposition to competing rugged laptops. It’s not best suited to situations where you really need to keep the weight down and it doesn’t have the battery life or mission critical ruggedness for the most demanding environments, but it is very powerful, making it a useful alternative for anyone that doesn’t want to sacrifice on performance.