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PC PLUS April 2003 - Overall Rating 8/10

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.

Thin whizzy
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.

MODEL Rock Xeno-m
FOR The fastest mobile processor yet. FireWire, Wireless LAN and 3x USB ports.
VALUE 8/10
PROCESSOR Intel 2.4Ghz P4-M
HARD DISK 40GB Hitachi
DISPLAY 14.1-inch TFT LCD (1024 x 768), SiS 650 (64Mb VRAM)
PORTS 1 x Type II PCMCIA, 3 x USB, S-Video, Monitor Out, IEEE 1394, IEEE 802.11b wireless LAN
OTHER 56K Modem, 10/100 Ethernet, Prism Wireless
DRIVES Slimline Matsushita DVD/CD-RW
OS Windows XP Professional
WARRANTY Three years RTB
PRICE £1724 ex VAT

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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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