- Review Price: £938.83
Due to an unforeseen accident involving a wallet-shaped projectile ”(presumably, a wallet? – ed)” and a rather bouncy sofa, my Sony Vaio no longer has a working @ key. Not only does this particular character get used a lot, but on a UK keyboard the same key also provides the apostrophe.
As they say, every cloud has a silver lining – so when this Rock Pegasus 330 turned up in the labs, not only was its small size perfect for me to take to Computex, but it gave me some real hands on time with the machine.
The Pegasus 330 is a small notebook, weighing in at only 2.1kg making it perfect for anyone on the go. It opens up nicely even on a fairly cramped aeroplane, with room to spare. It has a small 13.3in widescreen display running at 1,280 x 768 using the integrated Intel 945GM graphics, so you won’t be playing any games. But this resolution is fine for word processing, email and other general use.
Inside there is an Intel Core Duo T2400, which operates at 1.83GHz. At the moment, this particularly processor offers the best value for money – so a good choice on Rock’s part. There is also 1GB of DDR2 memory, made up of two 512MB Corsair 4-4-4-12 modules. Being configured like this means performance should be a little better as it is running in dual-channel, but this makes upgrading difficult. If you want 2GB, you should specify this in the configurator and pay a little extra at the beginning.
The Pegasus 330 has several unique features worth noting. When plugged into the mains, the system is automatically overclocked by 5 per cent – in this case to 1.93GHz. I wouldn’t say no to an extra 100MHz, and this is well within the tolerance of the Core Duo range of processors. If the whole concept of overclocking scares every cell in your body, then you can turn this off in the BIOS.
Next to the power button lives two other buttons, each with unique functions. One is the silence button that will lower the clock speeds of the CPU so that the system fan doesn’t need to turn on. The system seemed really quiet anyway but it makes it perfect for listening to music before bed time, without being woken up by the intermittent sound of a whirring fan. Finally, there is the InterVideo InstantOn button. Pressing this button instead of the power button boots in to InterVideo’s playback software, which is a Linux distribution stored on the computer. From here you can play DVDs, CDs, MP3’s and control the supplied TV Tuner. This saves the hassle of booting in to Windows, which obviously takes time. Instant On is a bit of an exaggeration though, as it takes around 10 seconds to boot in to.
The speakers aren’t great for listening to music, but there is a stereo jack for audio output, so you can plug it in to a set of external support.
As some of you may know from my previous reviews, I’m not a big fan of trackpads and I don’t get on with them well at all. Because of this I have always had a love for the ThinkPad trackpoint and have found myself remarkably adept at keyboard shortcuts. The trackpad on my Sony Vaio is one of those rare trackpads that I actually do get on with – but this in itself is proof that it can’t just be me and that good trackpads are around.
On this notebook, it was certainly one of the better ones I’ve used and definitely rivalling the Sony. Occasionally the pointer would dart around the screen or it just didn’t seem to move at all but I think even the best trackpads suffer from this occasionally. I would certainly consider this trackpad to be above average and if I can use it for a couple of weeks without going crazy, it could be worse.
My overall impression of the chassis is a good one. The keyboard was nice to type on and the rounded edges made sure my wrists were comfortable. The left hand side has two USB 2.0 ports, one towards the back and one towards the front. There is a third USB 2.0 port on the right hand side in the middle, alongside a mini FireWire connection. On the right we also have an S-Video TV Out connection as well as a Gigabit Ethernet port. Supplied is a USB DVB-T tuner, which is around the size of a large flash drive. The “Presto PVR!” software is included as well, which seemed fine.
The expansion slot is a PC Card rather than an Express slot, which is probably used by more people right now, but Express card slots are obviously the new standard, so it’s surprising this isn’t included instead.
There is an SD/MMC/MS/MS PRO card reader, which covers most commonly used standards. On the back of the device, things are minimal with power and D-SUB output only. Audio connections are at the front of the chassis next to the wireless switch. There is a stereo out as well as microphone in. There is an integrated microphone too, should the facility come in handy.
Finally it is worth noting that there is a system recovery partition which can very quickly repair Windows, or restore the system back to its factory state.
Testing was done using our usual array of MobileMark 2005, SYSmark 2002 and PCMark 2005. I decided to compare this to the Asus W3J that Benny recently reviewed as it is the only other notebook we’ve reviewed that uses the T2400 processor. The Asus uses an X1600 mobile graphics chip which has its own frame buffer, so it will be interesting to see how much difference using the system memory for the graphics affects system performance.
MobileMark up first, showing just over three hours of battery life (203 minutes). That’s not bad at all for a Core Duo notebook – especially not one that weighs only 2.1kg.
PC Mark’s overall score was rather skewed by the poor graphics performance, but the individual scores give a good indication. Naturally CPU performance was identical (although it is very rare to get a 100 per cent identical score such as this). Memory performance was slightly higher than the Asus, although not as much as expected. The dual-channel memory should increase theoretical performance significantly, as would the low latency Corsair memory, but the fact the integrated graphics share the system memory would bring this score down some too.
SYSMark’s results were a little lower than I would have expected, with a significantly lower office productivity score. Comparing the two systems, I can only really strike this down to memory performance due to integrated graphics sharing the memory.
Still, performance was still impressive and I certainly didn’t have any gripes when I was using it.
I really got on well with this notebook. Its performance is good and over three hours of battery life is satisfactory. It’s not the most attractive of notebooks, but the screen is lovely and it does have a lot of nice features like the five per cent overclocking, InstantOn and silent operation.
At £938.38, this is close to the price of the Zepto Znote I took a look at recently. It’s extra money and you don’t get the gaming performance, but you do get the extra battery life. Compared to the Asus W3J, it’s quite a bit cheaper and offers just as much, save the gaming performance.
As long as you don’t expect to play the latest games, this is decent notebook that is ideal for anyone on the move, at a budget price.
Score in detail
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