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Quaddra DTS

What Laptop (September '03)

Rockdirect’s Quaddra DTS (£1644 Inc. VAT) is appealing to look at. The case is large for a laptop, but that’s because there’s an impressive 17-inch widescreen display packed inside.

The styling does a good job of disguising the laptop’s bulk, and it still looks portable, given its 395 x 275 x 35mm dimensions. At 4.3kg it’s certainly not a machine you’d want to carry regularly, but it’s okay for occasional short trips away from your desk.

Powering the machine is a 3.06GHz Intel Pentium 4 processor with 512MB of DDR SDRAM. The first question this brings to mind for a laptop is cooling. Fast desktop processors generate a lot of heat, and the large fan vents under the case are evidence of this. In a smaller laptop the fan noise would be excessive, but with the processor and large screen requiring so much power, we felt this to be a acceptable trade-off. Users who want a quiet laptop should beware.

Under test with MobileMark 2002, the system scored 147. This shows there is plenty of power to handle demanding tasks. There’s also reasonable battery life for such a large machine, since the Quaddra DTS scored, under test, an average of 126 minutes.

An ATI Mobility Radeon 9000 graphics adapter drives the screen at 1440 x 900 pixels, and it has 654Mb of it’s own video memory. The adapter scored 6926 using 3D Mark 20001, making this machine a good choice for gamers, at least by current standards. The screen is clear, and text and icons are comfortable to read, although the panel has a poor range of brightness.

Overall, the build quality of the chassis impressed us, and seemed strong enough for the extra-wide form factor. The extra protection behind the large TFT panel was particularly pleasing.

Such a wide machine affords a full size keyboard and separate number pad, and there’s room at the sides for stereo speakers. The number pad means the alphabetic section is unavoidably offset to the left, but the keyboard is firm and comfortable to type on and doesn’t get excessively warm, as do some Desktop Replacement machines.

A three-spindle design gives good storage options, with an 80Gb Fujitsu hard drive, a Teac DVD/CD-RW combination drive on the left (DVDR-RW option for £175 inc. VAT), and a floppy disk drive. As you’d expect, the large case also provides plenty of connectivity, including infra red, PS/2 parallel, serial, and a single Type II PC Card slot. There are also the latest connection types, with one mini-FireWire and three USB ports. A minor gripe with the latter is that the two on the case’s rear were mounted upside down so that devices with LED’s, such as memory keys, would face the desktop.

A camera is mounted into the lid, and Bluetooth or WLAN modules can be optionally fitted and controlled using the on/off switch on the chassis’ front. There’s a slot underneath the right-hand side of the chassis that can accommodate some other interesting options, including a TV Tuner or 6-in-1 Flash Card reader.

Our unit’s specification included a sub-woofer module that worked well. Prior to fitting, which can be a bit fiddly, the sound was as we expected for a laptop: clear but thin and reedy. However, after fitting the Sub-Woofer, we were impressed by the remarkably good sound and reasonably strong bass and good volume. Our only complaint was of a faint clicking noise from the left stereo speaker before and after fitting the Sub-Woofer, which was only noticeable in a quiet room. It’s fair to mention here that our machine was a pre-production unit, so this may be remedied before distribution.

Whether it’s to be used in the office or as a larger gaming and entertainment machine, the Rockdirect Quaddra DTS is an excellent example of just how successfully a laptop can replace a desktop PC.

MODEL Rock Quaddra DTS
VERDICT A Desktop Replacement machine that is worthy of the space and the name
VALUE 3.5/5


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All Quaddra DTS reviews

Quaddra DTS - What Laptop (Dec '04)
Quaddra DTS - Computer Arts (Dec '03)
Quaddra DTS - PC Home (Nov '03)
Quaddra DTS - What Laptop (Sep '03)
Quaddra DTS - PC Pro Magazine (Aug '03)

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