Averatec 1000 review

£750
Price when reviewed
From the all-white interior to the matching power supply and cables, it’s clear as to where Averatec has been taking its stylistic cues from. The olive-green lid on our review sample matches the green iPod mini almost shade-for-shade, although production versions will boast a more sober burgundy colour. Thankfully, it isn’t just the aesthetics that have benefited from some thought, as there’s plenty else to like too.

For starters, it weighs just 1.6kg, placing it into ultraportable territory – an area in which it’s particularly tough to achieve the balance between performance, ergonomics and features. A low-voltage Pentium M 733 running at 1.1GHz provides the processing muscle and, while it was never going to knock our socks off with its performance, the score of 0.81 in our real-world benchmarks is still enough for most jobs on the move. It’s coupled with a sensible 512MB of PC2700 RAM, up to 64MB of which is shared by Intel’s Extreme Graphics 2, the integrated graphics that come courtesy of the 855GME chipset.

These efficient components make the 1000 an excellent travelling companion, leading to a surprisingly long battery life: two hours, 47 minutes under intensive use and a superb four hours, 31 minutes under light use compares favourably with IBM’s X40. You’ll have no problem whiling away journeys with a film either, as we squeezed two-and-a-half hours of DVD playback before the battery gave out.

It isn’t just the size and weight that are impressive: 10/100 Ethernet, a 56K modem and Intel’s PRO/Wireless 2200BG wireless card are built in, along with a capacious 80GB hard disk. Even more impressive is that Averatec has shoehorned in a DVD combo drive as well.

Elsewhere on the chassis, you’ll find an SD/MMC, Memory Stick and Memory Stick Pro card reader. A pair of well-placed USB 2 ports and mini-FireWire provide for basic expansion, and there’s also a Type II PC Card slot above the optical drive. We’re pleased to see a wireless radio switch, conveniently placed at the front-left of the chassis, but the power button is placed, annoyingly, on the upper right-hand side of the machine: pick up the 1000 while it’s running, and there’s a good chance you’ll turn it off with your thumb.

Averatec claims the 1000 has a full-sized keyboard, but the punctuation and cursor keys are half-width, and the Enter key is half-height. It does feel a little cramped, although the layout is generally good and it’s satisfyingly solid to type on. The trackpad is excellent, offering smooth acceleration and movement, although we’re less happy with the slightly crunchy mouse buttons.

Averatec makes big claims about the TFT brightness too, quoting 240cd/m2, and there’s no disputing its legibility during normal use. We even wondered if it would work in sunlight, but slight reflectivity made this an eye-straining experience. You might also find yourself squinting at the high-resolution widescreen panel: 1,280 x 768 on a 10.6in TFT may prove too small for some. However, it’s evenly lit and, although viewing angles aren’t brilliant, it isn’t an issue for the single user.

Although it’s largely well built, we’ve some reservations about the build quality behind the panel, as pressing on the back of the screen reveals a pressure point that is likely to become more pronounced with time, so you’ll need to be careful when stowing it in a full bag. The hinge movement isn’t the smoothest either.

As a relatively new name to many people, Averatec will need to convince prospective buyers of its support options. To that end, you get a free copy of Phoenix FirstWare Recover Pro when you register a newly purchased Averatec 1000 online. This keeps an area of the hard disk free for system backups, meaning you can restore your system no matter how scrambled your Windows installation gets. It’s a useful inclusion, but you might view Averatec’s warranty with suspicion: just a year’s collect-and-return cover is hardly reassuring, although it is upgradeable to three years for £149 (inc VAT).

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