Below the keyboard is one of the major disappointments – a round touchpad. Now, I’ve got nothing against inventive design, but a touchpad is something that has a direct impact on the usability of a notebook. The touchpad isn’t completely round, but the enclosure housing the touchpad and the buttons is – so, the touchpad itself is just over half a circle. The upshot is that I kept hitting the edge of the touchpad, where I wouldn’t have done with a standard rectangle device. Below the touchpad are two selector buttons and a scroll wheel – yep, that’s right, a scroll wheel. Instead of a scroll lock button, or even a rocker button, this machine actually has a proper scroll wheel, just like most mice.
Just like the Xtreme Ti, the Xtreme XT has an LCD display at the front and a set of audio controls, allowing you to play music without having to boot into Windows. When not playing music, the LCD display thoughtfully displays the time of day for you. In fact this feature is pretty important on the Xtreme XT, since the integrated speakers are the best I’ve heard on a notebook. Listening to music is more than acceptable with this machine, making it an attractive proposition for someone that needs all their entertainment needs rolled into one device.
On the right hand side is an 8x DVD writer that will burn both DVD+R/RW and DVD-R/RW. There’s also a headphone socket, microphone socket, S/PDIF and line-in port. Added to all that are two USB 2.0 ports, a four-pin FireWire port, a modem socket and the power connector.
On the left is another bay which was populated by a second battery in my review unit, although production versions of the Xtreme XT will ship with a 7-in-1 card reader in the bay as standard. The second bay can also be used for another hard disk, a floppy drive or even a second optical drive. Below the bay is a Type II PC Card slot and a network port for the integrated Gigabit Ethernet controler. Finally there’s an IrDA port and an integrated SD Card slot – in case you choose not to go for the card reader.
At the rear is a DVI port, a parallel port, two USB 2.0 ports, a PS/2 port, an S-Video output and a serial port. So, the Xtreme XT is far from legacy free, but with a chassis this big, you might as well make the most of it.
Taking a look inside the Xtreme XT, you’ll see that this is a slightly lower spec machine than the Xtreme Ti I reviewed previously. There’s a Pentium 4 CPU running at 3.2GHz, backed up by 1GB of memory. There’s a 60GB, 7,200rpm hard disk, and of course, the graphics card. It’s the graphics card that’s the real star of this show, and the ATI Mobility Radeon X800 -complete with 256MB of GDDR3 memory – is still top of the tree when it comes to mobile gaming.