What Laptop (February 03)
A highly portable and well-specified laptop
This is the first time the Xeno-m has been included
in a WL group review. It’s initial outgoing was
a solo review in our November 2002 issue when it received
a five-star rating. Expectations were high, therefore,
when it came to comparing the Xeno to it’s peers.
The Xeno-m 1.8 is a smart, businesslike machine with
a two-tone chassis and a dark grey lid and silver body.
There are four programmable hot keys on the front of
the case, along with the headphone and microphone jacks
and a volume dial. A nice touch, and one that will be
appreciated by mobile workers is the lock for keeping
the latch secured when the lid is closed.
To reach the mid-range price point of under £1500
(inc. VAT) rockdirect has based this model around a
1.8GHz Mobile Intel Pentium 4-m processor rather than
the more expensive 2GHz processor available. Supported
by 256MB of memory, the Xeno-m received mid-table results
in nearly all of our performance tests, except for our
3D test. In this, the laptop came third with a result
of 170.1. This was quite impressive as it uses a SIS
650 integrated graphics chipset, traditionally slower
than dedicated graphics adapters, as used by all other
machines in this group. The display is a 14.1-inch TFT
panel with a native resolution of 1024 x 768 pixels.
Images were clear and sharp. Although the viewing angle
was rather narrow, this will only be a problem if the
laptop is intended to be used in presentations.
With a depth of 33mm, it was the thinnest machine in
the group, and one of the lightest at 2.8kg. Despite
the diminutive dimensions, connectivity options are
good, although not comprehensive. There is a single
type II PC Card slot, three USB ports, modem and Ethernet
connectors, TV-out, external monitor and a PS/2 port,
for connecting an external keyboard or mouse. We were
also pleased to find a mini Firewire connector and even
more impressed to find a Wireless LAN included on an
802.11b mini-PCI card. This was the only machine in
the group to come wirelessly enabled.
Ports are located along the sides of the laptop, with
most of the rear, except for the modem port, taken up
by the battery pack. The Xeno-m had the second longest
battery life in our test, lasting 91 minutes between
charges. A spare battery is provided, which can be swapped
with the optical drive.
A two-spindle laptop, the Xeno has a 30GB Fujitsu hard
drive and a DVD/CDRW drive. The latter is complemented
by the inclusion of CyberLink PowerDVD software for
playing DVD movies. There is no CD creation software,
an unfortunate oversight given its necessity if users
wish to use this drive as they would a floppy disk drive,
for transferring and storing files. However, rockdirect
does include a copy of Panda antivirus software.
This is a comfortable laptop to use. The membrane keyboard
has little flex, and with a firm action and a good amount
of travel on the keys, it is pleasant to use for long
periods. The keyboard is positioned more in the middle
of the chassis than is the case with most other laptops.
This has the advantage of making it easier to type on,
but on the downside, it places the hands close to the
touchpad, making it easy to accidentally activate the
cursor on screen.
Rockdirect has done well with the Xeno-m 1.8, striking
a good balance between portability and performance.
It is a solidly built, easy to use laptop, with a good
range of features including wireless LAN. With this,
the lack of proper 3D graphics, and the inclusion of
Windows XP Professional, it is a laptop more suited
to business than leisure tasks, and we’d easily
recommend it as an office workhorse.
||This laptop will suit any purpose. Its lack
of legacy ports is made up by the inclusion of
wireless LAN and three USB ports.
||Intel Mobile Pentium 4 1.8Ghz
||256Mb DDR RAM
||14.1 XGA TFT
||Internal 56k modem
||Internal 10/100mbps LAN
||3 Year Collect and Return
||£1372.40 (Inc. VAT and WiFi)
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