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PC Plus (November '02)


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 everyone expected.

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.

Rock hard

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.

MODEL Rock Quaddra
PRO'S Good Battery Life. 2.4Ghz Intel Pentium 4 processor. 3 x USB, 1 x IEEE1394
CON'S No legacy ports. Optional FDD only
PROCESSOR Intel Pentium 4 processor 2.4Ghz
OTHER Internal 56k modem
OTHER Internal 10/100mbps LAN
OTHER Firewire
WARRANTY 3 Year Collect and Return
PRICE £1669 (inc vat)

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All Quaddra reviews

Quaddra XT - PC Pro (Oct '04)
Quaddra XT - Waht Laptop (Mar '04)
Quaddra XT - PC Plus (Oct '03)
Quaddra XT - Computer Shopper (Sep '03)
Quaddra XT - PCW Magazine (Sep '03)
Quaddra XS - PC Home (Jun '03)
Quaddra - PC Plus Magazine (Nov '02)
Quaddra - Computer Active Magazine (Aug '02)

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