Advent Roma review

£370
Price when reviewed

Advent’s Roma is strikingly affordable. Despite its 15.6in screen and notebook credentials, it’s cheaper than some netbooks. Inevitably, though, that’s been achieved by choosing price over quality in several areas.

Take the processor, for example: the Roma’s 2.2GHz Celeron 900 is a particularly weak CPUs. Although it’s partnered with an unexpected 3GB of 667MHz DDR2 RAM, it still left the system scoring just 0.78 in our benchmarks.

3D performance is worse, thanks to a bargain-basement Intel 4500M integrated GPU. It does support DirectX 10, but with a score of just 5fps in Crysis at low detail it’s effectively useless for anything but older classics.

A tiny 2,200mAh battery completes the deal: in our tests, it supplied just 58 minutes of heavy use and could muster only 1hr 51mins when idle.

Yet despite this unapologetic penny-pinching, the Roma has its attractions. The casing is sturdy, and while it won’t win any style awards it won’t embarrass you either.

Although the TFT isn’t as richly colourful as those you’ll find on premium laptops, it’s bright and sharp enough for office and internet apps. There’s even an HDMI port, so you can hook up a better screen if you choose. The speakers are louder than many, although they sound flat and will distort if you push them too far.

When you start to type on the Roma the keys feel spongy, and the keytops are set close together, so it’s easy to hit the wrong letter. But once you get used to that, it’s solid and usable, with decent-sized keys laid out sensibly. The touchpad is nothing special, but nor is it too small or fiddly.

And considering the price, the reasonably sized 250GB hard disk and full Home Premium edition of Vista are pleasant surprises.

To be sure, this is still a budget laptop: performance-wise, it won’t set the pulse racing, and with its underwhelming screen and poor battery life it certainly can’t claim to be a general-purpose contender. But with a full-sized keyboard, big screen and DVD writer, for some roles it could be an appealing alternative to a netbook.

Warranty

Warranty 1 yr return to base N/A

Physical specifications

Dimensions 370 x 261 x 42mm (WDH)
Weight 2.860kg
Travelling weight 3.2kg
Weight with extended battery N/A

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Celeron 900
RAM capacity 3.00GB
Memory type DDR2
SODIMM sockets free 0
SODIMM sockets total 2

Screen and video

Screen size 15.6in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,366
Resolution screen vertical 768
Resolution 1366 x 768
Graphics chipset Intel GMA 4500M
Graphics card RAM 32MB
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 1
HDMI outputs 1
S-Video outputs 0
DVI-I outputs 0
DVI-D outputs 0
DisplayPort outputs 0

Drives

Capacity 250GB
Hard disk usable capacity 233GB
Spindle speed 5,400RPM
Internal disk interface SATA 300
Hard disk Toshiba MK2555GSX
Optical disc technology DVD writer
Optical drive TSST TS-L633A
Battery capacity 2,200mAh
Replacement battery price inc VAT £0

Networking

Wired adapter speed 1,000Mbits/sec
802.11a support no
802.11b support yes
802.11g support yes
802.11 draft-n support no
Integrated 3G adapter no
Bluetooth support no

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switch yes
Wireless key-combination switch yes
Modem no
ExpressCard34 slots 1
ExpressCard54 slots 0
PC Card slots 0
USB ports (downstream) 3
PS/2 mouse port no
9-pin serial ports 0
Parallel ports 0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports 0
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports 0
3.5mm audio jacks 2
SD card reader yes
Memory Stick reader no
MMC (multimedia card) reader yes
Smart Media reader no
Compact Flash reader no
xD-card reader no
Pointing device type Touchpad
Audio chipset Realtek HD Audio
Speaker location Below screen
Hardware volume control? no
Integrated microphone? yes
Integrated webcam? yes
Camera megapixel rating 1.3mp
TPM no
Fingerprint reader no
Smartcard reader no

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use 1hr 51min
Battery life, heavy use 58min
Overall application benchmark score 0.78
3D performance (crysis) low settings 5fps
3D performance setting Low

Operating system and software

Operating system Windows Vista Home Premium 32-bit
OS family Windows Vista
Recovery method Burn own recovery discs
Software supplied Microsoft Works 9 SE

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