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Sigma Di

Gold Award
PC Home Magazine (February 03)

How does Rock’s latest notebook measure up to its previous releases?

Rock has certainly been impressing us lately. We reviewed its Xeno-m several issues ago and since then it’s obvious that the lads and ladies from Warwick haven’t just been sat around having a nice cup of tea. No, they’ve been busy putting together this tidy little budget package. Or some of them have - their designers were too busy playing computer games to help much, because somehow, when you lift this model out of the box it looks strangely like the original grey Sony PlayStation. It’s coloured the same and is not unattractive, but there is a raised crescent moon shape dead centre, and it ends up looking like the CD lid of Sony’s popular little console, a bizarre coincidence. Not that it spoils the look. Rock has got the knack of getting its notebooks looking right, and this one is no different. The dark graphite around the keyboard and screen contrast with the lighter grey of the rest of the casing to make this one of the best looking models from it so far. Even the speakers have been thoughtfully moved around at the bottom corners so as not to spoil the effect.

Oh so quiet!

Shhh…can you hear that? Nope, neither can we. That’s the sound of the Sigma Di operating. It’s the most unobtrusive, silent machine we’ve had the pleasure of not hearing for a while. A sticker on the case announces that it’s fitted with a Fujitsu Silent HDD, so that may very well be the reason. The only way to know it’s even switched on is by listening to a tiny whine coming from one side. For a budget model the specification is very reasonable. A mobile Pentium 4 2.0GHz CPU is at the heart of the Sigma Di, coupled with 256Mb DDR-RAM, 30Gb HDD and a SiS 650 graphics chipset. A CD-RW/DVD-ROM combo drive was installed in the side bay and Rock has put in a standard 1.44Mb floppy, a feature that is always nice to see. Connectivity has always been well served in Rock notebooks and true to form, the Sigma Di includes a built-in 56k modem and 10/100 LAN. External connections include two USB, Infrared, firewire, external
monitor, parallel, PS2 and TV-out. Unfortunately, the USB is not USB 2.0 and there’s no sign of wireless LAN components. The graphical performance is provided by what is becoming the standard among low to mid-range portable PCs. The SiS chipset is adequate, but not up to the demands of 3D gaming. The BIOS does let you tweak the memory requirements to 64Mb - just remember that it comes out of the system memory, not a dedicated resource.

Budget bargain

The Sigma comes pre-installed with Windows XP Home, and unusually, Panda Anti-Virus Titanium. Panda is an excellent AV tool and it is becoming less common to see software like this included. DVD software player WinDVD also comes ready for use. The monitor is 14.1” and really makes a difference. We’ve seen too many notebook PCs with sub-standard monitors, and when you can’t just swap it out for another it’s all the more important to ensure that the display is good enough. With the Rock Sigma, the monitor’s colour is bright and the icons of Windows XP are sharp and well defined. It can even reach a resolution of 1024x768.
This is a chunkier model than we’ve come to expect from Rock. Previous releases have been thinner and
lighter, so we aren’t sure where the extra weight is coming from. Performance is swift and reliable, as expected from the P4 and Windows XP, with excellent boot and shutdown times, while applications load quickly and with very little pausing. With this machine and the rest of its range, Rock is fast becoming one of the top laptop manufacturers. The Sigma Di carries on its high-quality tradition, and is one of the strongest budget models we’ve seen. It’s a tough, attractive and well built machine, that is perhaps a little thicker than it should be, with an excellent specification, good monitor and an anti-virus program included. Highly recommended for anyone shopping for a good budget deal or reasonably specified portable computing power.

Rock solid

Although you may not have heard of it previously, Rock has got itself a pretty good reputation as one of this
country’s top laptop hardware manufacturers. In 1993 Rock produced one of the first full-colour notebook computers, quite a major achievement at that time. As well as that, it was a founding member of the Personal Computer Association, an organization dedicated to helping both the everyday home user as well as suppliers and manufacturers. Its Web presence can be found at, which contains all kinds of useful information.

MODEL Rock Sigma Di
PRO'S Rugged quality andgood looks. Incrediblyquiet, excellent monitor.
CON'S Heavier and bulkier than expected.
VERDICT Rock has got the knack of getting its notebooks looking right, and this one is no different.
PROCESSOR Intel Pentium 4 2Ghz
OTHER Internal 56k modem
OTHER Internal 10/100mbps LAN
OTHER Firewire
3 Year Collect and Return
PRICE £1173.83 (Inc. VAT)

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All Sigma reviews

Sigma Di - Computer Shopper Magazine (July '03)
Sgma Di - What Laptop Magazine (February '03)
Sgma Di - PC Home Magazine (February '03)
Sigma SI - Interactive Magazine (April '02)
Sigma SI - .net Magazine(December '01)
Sigma SI - PC Utilities (December '01)
Sigma SI - Computer Active (October '01)
Sigma SI - PC Pro (September '01)
Sigma SI - PC Advisor (July '01)
Sigma SI - PC Basics (July '01)
Sigma SI - Computer Active (June '01)
Sigma SI - PC Home (June '01)
Sigma SI - What Laptop (June '01)
Sigma SI - PC Advisor (June '01)
Sigma - What PC? (April '01)

Return to reviews index >>