PC PLUS April 2003 - Overall Rating
Round and round the computer industry goes. Faster and
faster the processors become. Rock’s latest Xeno-M
packs 2.4GHz of ‘mobile’ P4 power.
Notebooks built around the desktop version of Intel’s
2.4GHz P4 have been available for some time now. Such
monstrous processing power easily marks these latest
laptop models as full PC replacements - almost anything
you can do with a fat-cased tower, you can do with a
generously - specced portable. Using Intel’s 845
chipset, P4-M processors embrace advanced power management
functions. In short, this chip can shout ‘my battery
life’s better than your battery life!’ And
it’s far from an empty boast.
Now the P4-M line has been extended to 2.4GHz and it’s
this cutting edge number-mincer that sits at the heart
of Rock’s latest Xeno-M. Like the other Xeno machines,
this new model makes much if its thin and lightweight
construction. Finished in slick silver (with a deep
metallic blue lid), it measures 305x270x25mm and tips
the scales at 2.4kg. It’s supremely portable with
an easy-on-the-eye design and a feature set that flips
the finger at legacy components.
Boosting the performance of a range that already boasts
1.7GHz, 1.8GHz and 2GHz models, this 2.4GHz Xeno-M is
a desirable blend of raw power and efficient performance.
With 512MB of SDRAM as standard (up to 1GB can be fitted),
the Xeno-M also features 40GB Hitachi hard disk. While
this configuration stubbornly refused to complete Mobile
Mark 2002 workout, hands-on tests were impressive.
Despite a lack of legacy ports, the Xeno-M comes fully
loaded. A quick inspection reveals the presence of the
slimline Matsushita CW-8121DVD/CD-RW drive (8x8x8x24x),
blessed with the sort of neat automatic auto-insert/eject
that you’d find in a car CD player. The drive
unit itself sits alongside tow of the USB ports, a PS/2
socket and a Monitor Out connection. On the flip side,
the 25mm height restriction means there’s only
room for a single Type II PCMCIA interface, and this
is joined by a Firewire connection, the third USB port,
plus 10/100 Ethernet jack and S-Video socket.
The sides of the Xeno-M are this packed due to the
complete lack of room on the back face of the casing.
The battery takes up almost the entire rear panel, leaving
room only for the 56k modem jack. Battery tests eked
out the life to a useful 210minutes.
What you can’t see
Again the dimensions of the Xeno-M’s casing restrict
certain components. In this case, you get a 14.1-inch
TFT LCD (capable of a maximum resolution of 1024x768)
rather than a 15.1-inch one. Below the keyboard, the
standard two-button touchpad features up/down scrollers
- fast becoming a standard notebook feature. The area
above the keyboard is surprisingly bare. This is typically
where you’d find a row of quick launchers, but
since the battery hogs this area the four quick launchers
have been moved to the gently-curved front panel of
the machine, along with the microphone and line-in sockets,
plus the obligatory volume control.
What you can’t see is that this Xeno-M generates
its sound and video via an all-in-one SiS chipset. While
this is conveniently compact, it lacks the raw power
of the mobile GeForce and Radeon set-ups that we’ve
seen lately. Tests with 3Dmark 2001 SE marked the performance
of the 64MB SiS 650 chip with a lowly rating of 1401.
Similarly, you won’t notice the built-in 802.11b
Wireless LAN connectivity unless you actively go hunting
for it. This comes as standard on all Xeno-M machines.
Discount for cash?
Rock has along tradition of producing hardy and high-quality
laptops, and if this model doesn’t suit your needs
(or your wallet), then slower, cheaper models are available.
All of the Xeno-M models comes with Windows XP Pro,
a natty leather carry case and a three-year collect-and-return
warranty. Discount for cash?. Probably not.
||The fastest mobile processor yet. FireWire,
Wireless LAN and 3x USB ports.
||Intel 2.4Ghz P4-M
||512Mb DDR-266 SDRAM
||14.1-inch TFT LCD (1024 x 768), SiS 650 (64Mb
||1 x Type II PCMCIA, 3 x USB, S-Video, Monitor
Out, IEEE 1394, IEEE 802.11b wireless LAN
||56K Modem, 10/100 Ethernet, Prism Wireless
||Slimline Matsushita DVD/CD-RW
||Windows XP Professional
||Three years RTB
||£1724 ex VAT
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