Sceptre Soundx 6600 notebook is a perfect fit for the road

Sceptre Soundx 6600 notebook is a perfect fit for the road

By John Breeden II

GCN Staff

The Sceptre Soundx 6600 comes close to my ideal of a notebook computer. It's more powerful than most desktop systems.

The 6600 has good graphics and memory support, and it weighs just 7 pounds. Everything I need on the road is in the triple-spindle design: a DVD-ROM drive, a 1.44M floppy drive and a 10G hard drive. All components come integrated into the case, so there's no need to swap drives on the road.

One school of thought says a double-spindle design saves weight when traveling, because you can leave the floppy or CD-ROM drive behind. But I'd rather have all my drives along just in case. When reviewing double-spindle notebooks, I often end up stuffing the extra drive into the carrying case.

Sceptre has improved the CD-ROM drive's performance over earlier models, which stuck the floppy and the CD-ROM drive'now a DVD-ROM drive'into the same bay. The forced double-spindle design with three drives gave patchy CD-ROM performance.

Driving along







Box Score              

Soundx 6600

500-MHz Pentium III portable


Sceptre Technologies; City of Industry, Calif.;

tel. 888-523-3815

www.sceptre.com

Price: $2,810 GSA

+ Fast processor and excellent overall performance

+ Triple-spindle design

+ Fairly lightweight












UsabilityA+
Features and ConfigurationA+
Benchmark PerformanceA+
ZD's Business Windstone 9922.5
More than twice as fast as a 233-MHz Pentium MMX


The overall grade comprises scores for three factors: usability (60 percent), features and configuration (20 percent), and performance (20 percent). The lab used ZD's Winstone 99 Version 1.1. The baseline for 10.0 Winstone units is a 233-MHz Pentium MMX. For benchmark information, go to www.gcn.com/gcnlab/benchmark.


The 6600 has the DVD drive in front and the floppy drive on the side. I saw no DVD performance problems, either playing a movie or running an application that constantly accessed data on a CD.

The 9.34G hard drive was spacious. I would run out of space on my desktop systems before I ever started to feel the crunch on this notebook.

If speed is what you need, this baby cooks. It has a 500-MHz Pentium III processor supported by a 256K Level 2 cache. The 100-MHz system bus is a big reason the notebook runs incredibly fast no matter what the application. I installed three office suites, and all ran as well as on a 450-MHz Pentium II desktop system or better. The 128M of RAM comes standard, so you needn't worry about memory-intensive applications. And the unit aced the GCN Lab's ZD Benchmark Operation test suite.

Sceptre even got around the limitations of most mobile PCs that use ATI Technologies Inc.'s Rage Pro graphics. The 6600 instead incorporates the Rage Mobility Pro, basically an 8M Accelerated Graphics Port card. Its 3-D rendering capabilities easily compared with those of a high-end desktop computer.

To push this powerhouse to its limits, I started viewing the movie 'Aliens' from DVD-ROM, then loaded a 50-page Microsoft Word document and kept Corel WordPerfect going in the background. The movie never hiccuped, even when I spell-checked or changed the document, and the office suite's performance never wavered.

Battery life was very good for such a powerful computer. In the lab's torture tests, which play audio CD-ROMs while scanning the hard disk at the same time, the lithium-ion battery stayed alive for 90 minutes. Your mileage may vary, but that's a good worst-case estimate.

The built-in 56K V.90 modem performed well, even using a dial-up account from Las Vegas to Washington. I would have liked an integrated LAN port, but the unit does accept PC Cards, so you can have a portable connection. The 6600 takes either two Type IIs or one Type II and one Type III card.

The 15-inch-diagonal LCD screen was impressive, especially considering that the unit's dimensions are only 11.5 inches by 12.7 inches. Color quality was above average for an LCD.

I left it powered on for several days and found no dropped pixels or other display problems.

The 6600 is perfect for a road warrior'expensive but one of the most powerful notebooks you can buy. It could go head-to-head with almost any computer in performance and power.

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