PC Plus Magazine (January 03)
If you need a notebook with good all-round specifications
plus the option of wireless networking, Rock’s
new Xeno-m could be just the ticket.
Rock manages to consistently produce portable computers
with a strong range of features at competitive prices.
This is in evidence yet again with the release of the
Xeno-m, which displays a good mix of top quality components
and neat design, combines in a notebook highly suited
to mobile working.
Outwardly the machine is very funky. It’s blue/grey
lid and silver base give it a certain mechanoid stylishness
that helps it stand out from the melee of notebooks
that consistently seem to offer either silver or black
finishes. The impressive appearance might just be enough
to ensure you pick up the Xeno-m for a second look -
though of course it doesn’t even tickle the machines
That little matter is taken care of by the Mobile Pentium
4 processor, which rates as one of the star attractions
of the Xeno-m. It runs at 2.0Ghz, and managed to push
out MobileMark benchmark to a performance rating of
111 - a strong showing indeed.
But all the power and looks in the world don’t
get you very far without a strong supporting cast. Fortunately
in this case the supporting players are very capable.
The hard drive for example, is 40Gb in size, and so
should cope with a large library of software. The combination
DVD/CD-RW drive has not been around as a feature of
notebooks for long, but has already become pretty mush
a standard. And its presence here is welcome, but no
real surprise. The graphics card from Sis helped push
our 3D Mark benchmark to 1,043, not exactly blisteringly
fast, but certainly respectable. There is no floppy
drive, but Rock sells a USB variety for just £49
The screen at 14.1-inches, is clear and crisp and the
keyboard is responsive, if a little light to the touch.
The touchpad has the usual left and right buttons and
between them a pair of scroll buttons, which are rather
fiddle to use effectively and are the only real let
down as far as usability is concerned.
The outside world
These days few notebook computers function as standalone
devices in their own little vacuum. Too help you communicate
on the move Rock has provided a generally strong suite
of connectivity options. There is only a single PC Card
slot, where many notebooks still carry two. This will
be an issue is you use your notebook for work purposes
and require double height cards, but in most cases should
not present problems. If you need to connect to a network
there is built-in Ethernet and, as an optional extra
that was included in our review model, you can choose
to have Wi-Fi capability included. We were up and running
on our own 802.11 network within a couple of seconds
thanks to Windows XP Professional’s ability to
automatically detect an existing network AND CONFIGURE
ITSELF TO JOIN IN. If you don’t want or need Wi-Fi,
then leave it out of the Xeno-m configuration and save
yourself £69 (ex VAT).
A key usability feature for any notebook is its battery
life. We managed to squeeze two hours and 37 minutes
from the Xeno-m, which isn’t bad at all. Wee ran
the test with power management features disabled, so
you should get more with the Pentium 4-M SpeedStep and
Deep Sleep functions enabled.
There are a total of three USB ports - two on
the front of the right side, with a PS/2 connector between
them and one on the opposite side, where you will also
find a Firewire connector, the Ethernet Jack and S-Video
port. The back of the case only offers the phone jack.
This configuration may please or irritate, depending
on how you like to use your peripherals and how you
feel about cables. There is no parallel port.
You might not want to carry this machine too far, as
it weighs in at a reasonably heft 2.4Kg, but Rock throws
in a bag into the bargain to help you out. The company’s
three year collect and return warranty arrangements
are among the best you will find. These two features
help top off what we think is a very utilitarian portable
computer, which, while not the cheapest on the market,
offers a good balance of price and functionality.
|| Strong all-round specifications.Optional 802.11
||Scroll bar on touchpad too small.Only one PCMCIA
||Intel Pentium 4 2Ghz
||512Mb DDR RAM
||14.1 XGA TFT
||Internal 56k modem
||Internal 10/100mbps LAN
||3 Year Collect and Return
||£1368 (Ex. VAT)
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