Nuggets: Rock balances short battery life with looks

It's fast and flash, but the battery doesn't last very long
Written by Graeme Wearden, Contributor

Laptop makers Rock have done well with the Agenda XT750 notebook. It scores A grades for usability, looks and performance, only to blow the battery life exam. Still, the price and weight are good so on balance it's a winner.

OK, there might be a few 800MHz or even 850MHz notebooks around but 750MHz certainly shouldn't be sniffed at. Unlike some notebooks we've seen, the Agenda doesn't come with the price premium you often get on a top-range model. Rock is only asking £2,199 (that's including VAT) for this 750Mhz/600Mhz SpeedStep machine, and that gets you 192MB of Ram and a 12GB hard drive.

You don't lose out on the extras either with a six-speed DVD-ROM drive and a 56K modem, plus USB and infrared ports. All the ports are colour-coded -- useful if you're keep forgetting where the plugs go.

Give the power switch a push and you'll see that the Agenda fairly races along. It coped admirably with every CPU and memory intensive game we threw at it, happily running several at once. Goes without saying that those bulky Windows applications were no problem either.

You won't be ashamed to get it out in public, either. The Agenda boasts a solid magnesium alloy lid, inside which lurks a shiny metallic body. Decent keyboard too, and a 15in screen that performed well under different light conditions. As the notebook weighs in at 3kg (plus a bit for the power lead), you won't do too much damage to your back as you lug it round.

However, the Agenda's Achilles heel is its battery life, or, to be precise, lack thereof. To pack in the features and still keep the weight down, Rock has make compromises with the size of the internal battery pack. The upshot is that you won't much more than 90 minutes of action out of the Agenda, which just isn't enough for most mobile workers.

We don't want to knock Rock too much over the battery life. Building a desktop replacement notebook means walking a tightrope between functionality, cost and sheer bulk. The Agenda is basically meant for people who work at a couple of different locations and want to use the same machine at both places, rather than when they're on the move, which is why Rock throws in a second power cable.

Conclusion: If you're looking for a powerful but portable laptop, and can put up with sub-two hour battery life, then this could be right up your street

  • Rock Agenda XT750 notebook
  • 750MHz/600MHz Pentium III SpeedStep
  • £2,113 (inc VAT)
  • 15in TFT screen
  • Resolution:1024x768 pixels, 16.7 million colours
  • 192Mb Ram
  • 12Gb hard drive
  • Six-speed DVD-Rom
  • V.90 modem
  • USB and infrared ports
  • www.Rockdirect.com

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