PC Plus (December
If you want one of the fastest laptops money can buy, then right now, Rock can sell you a Hyper-Threaded 3.4GHZ HT Pentium 4 hosted in a thick and weighty Clevo D870P case. Its new Quaddra Ti is every inch the desktop replacement: 4.2Kg of colossal Pentium 4 power, a stunning 16:9 display, 7,200rpm hard disk and subwoofer-assisted 5.1 sound. It embraces the description ‘high-end’, wines it, dines it and leads it off to bed.
The heart of this system comprises the 3.4G~HZ Pentium 4 engine, 1GB of main memory and a sizeable 7,200rpm 60GB Hitachi hard drive. Of course, while this buff Quaddra is technically a ‘portable’ machine, its architecture has more in common with a desktop PC. The Intel 865 Springdale chipset used here is a desktop design, benefiting from an 800MHZ FSB (compared to the 400MHZ FSB on the current Pentium M), while also providing support for fast PC3200 (DDR400) RAM and Gigabit Ethernet.
To appreciate the appeal of the Quaddra Ti, you need to buy into the idea that ‘size is everything’. This is a machine that’s all about performance; a one-box mobile PC designed to match the all-rounder potential of a desktop system. We’ve seen its like before from companies such as AJP and Mesh, but never with such a complete and compelling feature-set.
Speed to spare
The MobileMark 2002 benchmark tests system performance as the battery discharges to generate a simulated real world usage score. Let loose, the Quaddra Ti posted an exceptional rating of 193, though its Li-Ion cell only ran for 95 minutes. These high/low figures are typical for this sort of top-heavy specification. For this machine to last twice as long, Rock would need to sacrifice the 4x/2x DVD+RW Sony multi drive and the 7-in-1 card reader just to accommodate an extra battery cell.
Like many high-end machines, the Quaddra Ti hands the graphical responsibilities over to ATI’s flagship VPU. ATI’s Mobility Radeon 9700 posts a soaring 3Dmark 2001SE score of 11,617, which is stunning by today’s standards, while the 3Dmark 2003 suite notches up a score of 3,284. The 9700’s strong 2D/3D performance is only bettered by ATI’s own limited edition 9800 chip (available in selected Dell Inspirons) and will only be eclipsed when PCI Express laptops start appearing with appropriate ATI and Nvidia PCI-E graphics solutions. Until then, the 9700 is easily fast enou8gh for anything you care to throw at it, from Macromedia Contribute 3 to Doom 3.
As for the rest of the Quaddra’s specification, there’s one definite highlight: the giant 17in widescreen LCD is by far the biggest improvement over similar ‘muscle machines’. Supporting resolutions up to 1,680x1,050 pixels, Rock has incorporated the same X-Glass display technology that it’s been using in its Xtreme laptop range. Like Sony’s X-Black, X-Glass is a reflective coating that delivers increased colour depth and vibrancy. It makes little difference to the visuals on the Windows desktop. But there’s a dramatic improvement in quality when you play games or watch movies on the Quaddra’s screen.
The Quaddra’s generous case-space enables a wide array of expansion options, including three USB 2.0 ports, FireWire and a PC Card slot. But as this porky portable hopes to replace an equivalent desktop, it also features a subwoofer, 7-in-1 card reader and a BisonCam digital video camera. And with an 802.11g module installed, plus a Bluetooth module for short-range wireless connectivity, that’s all the wireless bases covered.
With its guts organised by Windows XP Home Edition, the Quaddra Ti comes supplied with a so-so collection of software that includes Ability Office 2002 and Panda AV Platinum - just enough to protect you. Threee years of collect and return cover provides that extra peace of mind.
There’s no denying the Quaddra’s raw power, nor its enviable flexibility. But it does generate mixed emotions. The laptop technology period and the traditional PCI has had its day. With Intel’s Sonoma platform destined to bring PCI express to Centrino-branded laptops, and the prospect of the i915 desktop chipset being shoehomed into heavyweight portables, you may want to wait before you commit to such a pricey purchase.
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