The Dell Latitude E6420 XFR is referred to as a 'fully ruggedised' laptop, aimed at those who don't just travel around a lot but actually work in the great outdoors or industrial environments.

Not to put too fine a point on it, the Dell Latitude E6420 XFR is built to be tough enough to withstand just about any accidental – and quite a few deliberate – acts of destruction that might occur. 

it's certified to milspec MIL-STD-810G, which includes testing with six-foot drops, blowing rain, dust and sand and is proven resistant to vibration, humidity, solar radiation and explosive atmospheres.

On the outside it looks more like a toolbox than a laptop, complete with a carrying handle. A sturdy clip keeps it all shut tight. But once opened some familiar components are revealed in the shape of a widescreen LCD, keyboard and touchpad.

For security purposes there is a fingerprint as well as a smartcard reader, to ensure that only the intended user can access the Dell Latitude E6420 XFR. 

The display, as well as having a pleasing matt finish which will prove usable in all conditions, was also a touchscreen on our sample. This is an extra option – you can select a regular display too.

You can operate the LCD touchscreen with your fingers or with a provided stylus, which is attached to the laptop by a plastic wire (that looks as if it might get snagged on a passing branch quite easily). 

We weren't impressed with the calibration of this Dell Latitude E6420 XFR's screen, which seemed to be registering touches more than an inch away from where we were actually making contact with the screen. 

The keyboard, while great for typing on, looks as if it could be an area of vulnerability - it just doesn't seem as sturdy as the rest of the unit.

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All of the ports and workings of the Dell are protected by an outer shell, requiring you to open catches to access things like the USB ports, SD card slot, DVD±RW drive and even the battery.

There are so many little nooks and crannies that you could quite easily not find out where a particular port is until you look carefully for it.

Component-wise, there's a powerful 2.7GHz Intel Core i7 dual-core processor that helped the Dell Latitude E6420 XFR to a score of 143 in our WorldBench 6 benchmarking suite, a very impressive score.

While the 128GB SSD doesn't have masses of storage space, it did help the Dell Latitude E6420 XFR to perform very well.

The nVidia NVS 4200M graphics card with 512MB memory is a good performer too; average frame rates of 46fps in the FEAR tests at Maximum detail suggests it will easily deal with graphics-intensive applications.

With its 60Wh lithium battery securely locked inside, the Dell Latitude E6420 XFR lasted 5.5 hrs in the MobileMark 2007 Productivity test.

Dell Latitude E6420 XFR: Specs

  • 2.7GHz Intel Core i7-2620M dual-core
  • 14in matt LED-backlit touchscreen
  • 1366 x 768
  • Windows 7 Professional 64-bit
  • 4GB DDR3-1333MHz
  • 128GB SSD SATA 3 Gbps
  • nVidia NVS 4200M with 512MB RAM
  • HDMI, VGA
  • headphone jack
  • 2 x USB 2.0
  • 1 x eSATA
  • DVD±RW
  • 802.11a/b/g/n
  • Bluetooth 3.0
  • gigabit ethernet
  • SD card reader
  • ruggedised design, stylus, webcam, fingerprint reader, smartcard reader
  • ExpressCard 54
  • 60Wh lithium-ion removable
  • 330 minutes MobileMark 2007 Productivity
  • 143 points WorldBench 6
  • 389 x 308 x 67mm
  • 4kg
  • 2.7GHz Intel Core i7-2620M dual-core
  • 14in matt LED-backlit touchscreen
  • 1366 x 768
  • Windows 7 Professional 64-bit
  • 4GB DDR3-1333MHz
  • 128GB SSD SATA 3 Gbps
  • nVidia NVS 4200M with 512MB RAM
  • HDMI, VGA
  • headphone jack
  • 2 x USB 2.0
  • 1 x eSATA
  • DVD±RW
  • 802.11a/b/g/n
  • Bluetooth 3.0
  • gigabit ethernet
  • SD card reader
  • ruggedised design, stylus, webcam, fingerprint reader, smartcard reader
  • ExpressCard 54
  • 60Wh lithium-ion removable
  • 330 minutes MobileMark 2007 Productivity
  • 143 points WorldBench 6
  • 389 x 308 x 67mm
  • 4kg

OUR VERDICT

The Dell Latitude E6420 XFR is a tank of a laptop, well suited to the outdoors. If you require a really rugged system then this is it – but you better have deep pockets. Performance is very good too, although we were a little disappointed by the touchscreen’s precision. The price tag is eye-watering, so this laptop should only be considered if you really do need the kind of system that'll survive being thrown off a cliff or run over by a tank.

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