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Quaddra - Computer Active (Aug '02)

A new desktop replacement from Rock with a powerful Pentium 4 processor and plenty of features.

Beneath the dark silver case of the new Quaddra from Rock lies all the power you would expect in a desktop PC. The term ‘desktop replacement’ is regularly bandied around by manufacturers and reviewers in reference to notebooks but what exactly does a notebook PC need to entitle it to such a term?

If pretensions of desktop replacement are harboured, a good base specification is essential. The Rock Quaddra has a 2GHz Intel Pentium 4 processor so it has power to spare for all applications and programs you will through at it. It is not a mobile Pentium 4, however. That means that it has plenty of power but it does not use the special SpeedStep technology to prolong battery life when on the move. Although the battery lasted nearly two and a half hours it took hours to charge so it really isn’t the greatest mobile computer solution.

The main advantage of standard P4s over the mobile version is that it results in a cheaper notebook. At 3.2kg, carrying it around will lead to arm ache, which means the Quaddra is better suited to working on a desk near a power supply than on a train platform or airport departure lounge.

The 256Mb of DDR memory fitted in the Quaddra is a realistic minimum these days. Although Windows XP will run with 128Mb, it strangles performance a little. If you feel you would need more memory, you can specify it (at extra cost) when you buy.

With 2GHz processor, we’d be tempted to add memory to do any photo retouching or video work. The 30Gb hard disk should prove enough for the majority of users. One interesting, nifty feature of the hard disk is that it uses Fujitsu Siemen’s silent technology to keep your computing as quiet as possible.

With a good specification in place, the next hurdle for would-be desktop replacement computers is the number of features they have. Expanding and upgrading a notebook PC is far more expensive and tricky than doing up desktops so having plenty of features is vitally important.

Removable storage is catered for by a CD-RW/DVD-ROM combination drive. There is an optional, external floppy drive available for extra cost but there is little use for it when if you have a handful of CD-RWs at your disposal. The DVD-ROM part of the drive puts DVD software within reach as well as DVD movies.

Combined with the large 15in display, the whole viewing experience is pretty impressive. The display is sharp and although the SiS 650 integrated graphics chip is a modest performer, video playback is smooth and jitter free. The graphics chip is actually where the Quaddra is least convincing as a desktop replacement computer.

It does lack powerful graphics like many notebooks, which means games players would find it a weak machine. Sound performance is also fairly limited for games use although a S/PDIF digitial output means a home cinema speaker system can be hooked up for good-quality sound reproduction from DVD movie soundtracks.

Connectivity is superb, with all the ports you are ever likely to need on a desktop computer. Aside from the PS/2 and parallel ports, there are three USB ports for hooking up peripherals. An internal modem and network connection allow owners to hook up to the internet and to any other computer they might want to share files with. The single type II PC card slot is a welcome avenue for easy upgrades.

The connectivity is topped off with a Firewire port. This allows users to transfer digitial camcorder footage to the computer for cutting and splicing. The lack of any included video-editing software means you will have to shell out if you fancy doing any video editing.

In fact, aside from a copy of McAfee’s Anti-Virus Scan software, there is no software included with the Quaddra, which is rather disappointing. The inclusion of Windows XP Professional is also a touch mystifying, as this is more expensive than the Home version yet offers no advantage for home users.

If you want a flexible computer for home that can be stowed away and you don’t care much for gaming, this is worth a look despite its foibles. It’s a powerful, reasonably priced notebook computer that is unlikely to disappoint.

  MODEL:
Quaddra
  RATING: 4/5
  PROS: Powerful processor. Good connectivity The performance matches any decent desktop equivalent
  CONS: Long battery recharge time. Poor software bundle
  VERDICT: Rock solid. A desktop replacement on nearly all counts.
  PROCESSOR: Intel Pentium 4 processor 2Ghz
  RAM: 256Mb DDR RAM
  HARD DISK: 30Gb
  DISPLAY: 15" XGA TFT
  DRIVES: CD-RW/DVD Combo
  OTHER: Internal 56k modem
  OTHER: Internal 10/100Mbps LAN
  OTHER: Firewire
  WARRANTY: 3 Year Collect and Return
  PRICE: £1,350

 

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More Quaddra Reviews:
PC Pro (Oct '04)
 
What Laptop (Mar '04)
 
PC Plus (Oct '03)
 
Computer Shopper (Sep '03)
 
PCW Magazine (Sep '03)
 
PC Home (Jun '03)
 
PC Plus (Nov '02)
 
• Computer Active (Aug '02)
 
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