PC Plus (November '02)
OVERALL PC PLUS VERDICT 9/10
Need all the power of a desktop system in a briefcase-friendly
chassis? Let’s Rock……
If memory isn’t an issue, and size really doesn’t
matter, then a one-box laptop is arguably a more sensible
mobile computing solution than a thin, concept ultra-lite.
But, and as you can see this is a big, emphatic ‘but’,
it’s vital not to let raw power distract you from
considering a machine’s overall performance. It’s
not just how fast a laptop crunches its numbers. Can
it cope with a variety of plug-in peripherals? Will
the battery life let you work for the whole train journey
or merely three-quarters of it? Speed is only a part
of the laptop buying equation.
Rock’s impressive Quaddra certainly has the speed
element nailed. It’s another hulking laptop that
ignores Intel’s dedicated P4-M processors (which
currently max out at 2HGz) and favours a cheaper and
faster desktop version. In this case, the Quaddra packs
the punch of a 2.4GHz Intel Pentium 4, a top-of-the-line
chip only recently eclipsed by Intel’s hot-from-the-factory
2.5GHz model. The continuing popularity of desktop P4s
in laptop systems should be attributed to the negligible
effect that the processors have on overall battery life.
While the P4-M was designed to prolong usability with
Enhanced Speedstep and Deeper Sleep power management
functions, the old P4 isn’t as power- hungry as
Alongside the 2.4GHz processor, the Quaddra comes with
512MB of SDRAM and a 40GB Fujitsu hard drive (with Silent
HDD technology) as standard. But is it as speedy as
the press release would have us believe? After a workout
with SYSMark2002, Rock’s metallic-finished chunk-top
posted a score of 203 giving it a PC Plus Index rating
of 2.11. Similarly, while the battery life was just
about average for this size and type of machine, in
tests it provided power for up to two hours 50minutes.
As a standalone desktop replacement, the Quaddra naturally
strikes a balance between all-round power and portability.
Styled in grey and darker grey, with elements of an
even darker grey, it cuts a serious but attractive figure.
Like most one-boxers on the market, it’s armachingly
big (280 x331 x 44mm) and bulky (3.2kg), but with a
clear 15-inch TFT LCD plus built-in combo CD-RW/DVD-ROM,
Rock couldn’t make it any smaller. Space is so
tight, there’s no room for an internal FDD -
an optional USB drive is available, however.
But size has its advantages and the Quaddra boasts
almost all the features of a comparable desktop system.
Beyond its 2.4GHz processor, the full-size keyboard
and the 15-inch screen give this laptop a luxurious
feel. On the right of the casing, there’s a CD-RW/DVD-ROM
drive, the IR port, plus the headphones and microphone
sockets. While many laptops are content with two USB
ports, the Quaddra comes stacked with three. These sit
alongside a built-in Firewire adaptor giving this PC
all manner of expansion options. On the opposite side,
you’ll find a single Type II PCMCIA slot. Around
the back, there’s room for PS/2, parallel, S-Video
and monitor out socket, plus jacks for the internal
56K modem and 10/100 Ethernet.
With twin speakers (located below the LCD rather than
to either side of the Touchpad), sound comes courtesy
of an Avance AC97 audio system. The visuals are handled
by an SiS 650 graphics processor - its user-configurable
memory plunders 32MB of the 512MB for VRAM, but this
can be doubled to 64MB if required. You don’t
expect great 3D performance from a laptop poly-chucker
and the SiS 650 hardly lights up the desktop. Built-in
hardware acceleration provides decent DVD playback,
but like many portable systems its 2D performance is
infinitely better than its under-developed 3D muscle.
After tests with 3Dmark2001 SE the Quaddra notched up
a score of 1,062 - so don’t expect to play
Doom III on it.
Rock with you?
With its systems ably managed by Windows XP Pro, the
Quaddra is a great advert for the ‘performance
= speed +flexibility +good battery life’ equation.
Not only is Rock’s latest system fast, but with
its trio of USB slots and Firewire interface, it’s
ready for plug-and-play extras - MP3 players,
digital cameras, external hard drives and so on. The
lone type II PCMCIA slot may not be ideal - especially
on a machine of this size - but it gives you the
scope to add Bluetooth or 802.11b WiFi to bring the
Quaddra bang up to date. And with a three year warranty,
the Quaddra impresses in every department.
||Good Battery Life. 2.4Ghz Intel Pentium 4 processor.
3 x USB, 1 x IEEE1394
||No legacy ports. Optional FDD only
||Intel Pentium 4 processor 2.4Ghz
||512Mb DDR RAM
||15 XGA TFT
||Internal 56k modem
||Internal 10/100mbps LAN
||3 Year Collect and Return
||£1669 (inc vat)
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