Solid as a Rock

Rock Sigma Si Combo

Rock's latest foray into education with its Sigma Si laptop range is a special school version at the remarkable price of pound;649. While you're unlikely to find it at the top of a city slicker's wishlist, you have to say that for a mid-range laptop you really would struggle to do better. It may not be the fastest on the block and it's looks won't knock you out, but overall it offers excellent performance and great value.

Weighing in at a relatively hefty (although not back-breaking) 3kg, the Sigma Si is certainly not the lightest machine on the market, but with a 1GHz Intel Celeron processor and an adequate 128Mb of memory (expandable to 512Mb), this is a serious contender on performance. Add a 15Gb hard disk and a 13.3-inch screen with a resolution of 1,024 x 768 pixels and you have a comprehensive and powerful package.

Top all this off with a fixed 24x CD-Rom drive (naturally, you can update to a DVD drive if you so wish) and a standard floppy-disc drive (still needed in schools) and you have the makings of a pretty nifty laptop. My father recently bought a Sigma Si to replace his PC as a space-saver, but he has also been pleasantly surprised by the Sigma Si's power and performance, and my nephew loves using it for home learning.

Internet access couldn't be easier and you are ready to surf the net with the 56K internal modem. Maybe this was a little too easy for my father as his first venture into e-commerce was to buy 30 golf balls. Unfortunately, he was convinced that the order had not gone through and kept resending the information. Next day the company delivered over 100 golf balls (a commendable delivery turnaround as my father pointed out), a situation he liked and I lumped - when I leapt on to the guest bed and found 300 golf balls under the duvet.

Battery life is a now-standard two hours, no worse or better than most laptops of its type.

Other than McAfee Anti-Virus Scan V.5 and the operating system, Windows XP Home, software is a bit thin on the ground. The package lacks bundled word processing and other office applications, so be prepared to get some applications if you don't already have any.

This solid machine looks as though it could take a few knocks and has a reassuring feel. A mid-range price tag and good performance make it great value.

I might not be found with it in the Clapham All Bar One, impressing its lovely ladies, but for helping with my 16-year-old nephew's maths homework it's unbeatable. Now where's that designer laptop catalogue for this evening's All Bar One visit?

Justin Stevens

Rock Sigma Si(Special SSI-Edu version)

Fitness for purpose 5

Ease of use 4

Features 3

Design 4

Value for money 5

Price: pound;649

Intel Celeron 1GHz processor

128Mb memory

15Gb hard disk

13.3-inch screen

3.5-inch floppy disk drive

CD-Rom drive (DVD optional)

56K internal modem

2 USB ports

10100mbps networking

Weight: 3kg

Software: Windows XP Home operating system and McAfee Anti-Virus Scan V.5 software

Tel: 08709 909090

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