The Doom 3 results were less impressive, but that was to be expected. Also, the fact that Doom 3 doesn’t support widescreen aspect ratios meant that you couldn’t play at the native screen resolution of 1,680 x 1,050 even if you wanted to.
But games aren’t all about graphics, sound plays a big part too and Rock has tried to give the Xtreme Ti sound to shout about. There are four speakers and a subwoofer built into the casing and I have to say that the Xtreme Ti has the best sound I’ve ever heard from a notebook. It even supports SRS WOW, but even without switching this on, the sound quality is impressive when playing games, watching movies or listening to music. There’s also support for 7.1-channel surround sound output.
So, is the Xtreme Ti the best mobile gaming platform available? The simple answer to that question is yes, because you really can play the latest games at decent reslolutions and frame rates. And, if you’re a keen LAN party gamer, it will be a lot easier to transport the Xtreme Ti than a desktop PC and screen, even a small form factor box.
But even though gaming is the main focus of the Xtreme Ti, there are other factors to consider with a notebook, even this one. One of the most important features of any notebook is the screen, and I’m glad to say that Rock has this box well and truly ticked. The 17in widescreen display in the Xtreme Ti is superb with the native resolution of 1,680 x 1,050 providing you with more desktop real estate than most desktop PCs. The screen also sports Rock’s X-Glass coating, giving the image vivid colours and impressive contrast. Although the X-Glass screen is more reflective than standard screens, both games and movies look amazing on this display. Since games and movies are likely to be the staple diet for the Xtreme Ti, the increased screen reflection is easily forgiven, and having used this machine for the past week, I didn’t find the reflective screen an issue even in environments with plenty of ambient light. Oh yes, I almost forgot, there’s also an integrated webcam located just above the top of the screen, so the option’s there if you fancy a bit of video conferencing.
Another very important part of a notebook is the keyboard, and here the Xtreme Ti doesn’t do quite so well. I’ve looked at this chassis before when I reviewed the MV Ixius and unsurprisingly the Rock suffers from the same issues. My main concern with the keyboard is that a full size numeric keypad has been positioned to the right of the main keyboard. On the surface this seems like a good idea since the machine itself is so large. However, in practice, you end up having to sit slightly left of centre in front of the machine in order for your hands to be placed in the correct position when typing. This is only a minor gripe, but every time I sit down in front of one of these notebooks I place my hands in the centre of the chassis, only to remind myself that I have to shift slightly to the left.
Putting the slightly odd positioning to one side, the keyboard isn’t a bad example. There’s a hint of keyboard flex when you’re typing fast, but it’s not enough to be annoying. The keys are a good size, which is hardly surprising considering the chassis size. The travel is long enough to give good feel while typing and the break is solid enough to spring your fingers back ready for the next key strike. Most of the important keys are larger as you’d expect, but the left Shift key (the one I use the most) is very small, while the right Shift key is absolutely massive.
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