Reviews / Pegasus 330 - PC Plus-
An affordable ultraportable? It sounds unlikely. But Rock direct’s Pegasus 330 offers just that…
Once the preserve of the early adopter, with all the disposable income the term implies, new technologies are traditionally expensive and pretty much out of reach for the bulk of the market. not so with Intel Centrino Core Duo line of CPU’s. The brand is only a few months old now, but already we’re seeing bargain notebooks carrying the technology. Take the Rock Pegasus 330- it’s a fairly pokey unit packing some excellent components and it manages to get all this into a thin and light chassis.
While the 330’s Core Duo T2400 1.83GHz CPU and 1GB DDR2 533MHz RAM may appear to make it the perfect productivity tool, that’s not where it’s aimed. Check the Rock Direct website (www.rockdirect.com) and you’ll find it in the consumer section, rubbing shoulders with gaming notebooks and media centres. And the latter category is really where the Pegasus 330 sits most comfortably. The 13.3in WXGA panel is a joy to behold – bright, crisp and offering tremendous viewing angles. It’s just the ticket for watching DVD’s and other digital media. Plus, with a native 1280x768, it’s perfectly scaled to the size of the screen, so you won’t be squinting at the display just to make out icons. Moreover, Rock supplies a digital USB 2.0 DVB-TV tuner with the package, although you’ll need to get your own portable aerial if you’re planning to watch TV on the move. And if media is what you’re really buying a notebook for, the ace in the hole is the instant-on function. The system bypasses Windows altogether and boots a tiny Linux-based OS complete with its own media centre front-end. With a total boot time of about 10 seconds, and far less of a system-resource overhead than Windows, it’s infinitely preferable to booting up as standard. From here, you can watch DVD’s, stored movies and digital TV, or listen to music from CD or directly from you’re My Music folder. While it’s definitely a consumer-orientated device, it would also make a sound investment for road warrior.
Delve into the system BIOS and you’ll spot an auto-overclocking tool, which runs the CPU at five per cent past its rated running speed. Rock actively encourages the use of this and it’s covered by the warranty because the cooling system inside the box, it claims, is more than capable of handling a little extra heat. The function activates automatically when the unit is running on mains power. It’s mostly redundant however, as 1.83 GHz is more than adequate for everything bar gaming, which this laptop is designed to do. While Intel’s Media Accelerator chipsets are better than ever before, they’re still not quite up to the demands of a modern 3D title.
The real function of this laptop is a portable media centre. And portable it is, weighing in at just 2.1Kg. This just swings it out of the true ultraportable class, so it’s not really treading on the toes of, say, the Dell X1 or the Sony VAIO VGNTX670P. But with that little extra weight and size comes excellent performance, offering crisp, responsive computing and all the application-juggling pleasure of a dual-core CPU. What’s more, the battery is capable of outlasting larger machines, offering 3.5 hours in productivity and around three in media centre mode. The sort of capacity makes train journeys fly by, and means you can indulge in a spot of sofa surfing without the need for trailing wires.
About the only let down is the hard drive, 80GB is frankly plenty for a portable device, but 5,400rpm is very much yesterday’s spin-speed, and you’d really expect faster in a modern machine. That said, we’ll just recap the fact that this isn’t a gamer’s machine, nor is it designed with productivity in mind, so perhaps a faster drive would be a wasted investment. Crucially, it would push the Pegasus 330 just over the magical sub Ł1,000 mark, and that, in a nutshell, is the chief appeal of this sexy little notebook: you get a lot of technology packed into a very small space for much less than a king’s ransom. Assuming games are of no interest, this is an attractive and capable laptop that outspecs and outperforms others in its class.
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