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Commended Award
What Laptop (February 03)

XENO-M 1.8
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.

MODEL Rock Xeno-m
VERDICT This laptop will suit any purpose. Its lack of legacy ports is made up by the inclusion of wireless LAN and three USB ports.
PROCESSOR Intel Mobile Pentium 4 1.8Ghz
OTHER Internal 56k modem
OTHER Internal 10/100mbps LAN
OTHER Firewire
WARRANTY 3 Year Collect and Return
PRICE £1372.40 (Inc. VAT and WiFi)

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All Xeno reviews

Xeno-m - Computer Shopper (August '03)
Xeno-SP - PC Plus Magazine (July '03)
Xeno-m - Computer Shopper (July '03)
Xeno-m - Computer Shopper (June '03)
Xeno-m - Computer Shopper (April '03)
Xeno-m - PC Home Magazine (April '03)
Xeno-m - PC Plus Magazine (April '03)
Xeno-m - Computer Shopper (March '03)
Xeno-m - What Laptop Magazine (March '03)
Xeno-m - PCW Magazine (March '03)
Xeno-m - PC Pro Magazine (March '03)
Xeno-m - Computer Buyer Magazine (February '03)
Xeno-m - What Laptop (February '03)
Xeno-m - TES (January 03)
Xeno-m - PC Plus Magazine (January 03)
Xeno-m - PC Pro Magazine (December '02)
Xeno-m - What Laptop (November '02)
Xeno - PC Advisor (June '02)

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