Advent 4211 review

£238
Price when reviewed

If you’re in the market for an inexpensive ultraportable, you could do much, much worse than spend £330 on MSI’s excellent Wind U100. Read that review to find out how MSI gives Asus and the rest a lesson in how to make a mini-laptop. But, what if we told you that you could get an ultraportable which equals the MSI Wind for £50 less?

Advent – PC World’s moniker of choice for its desktop and laptop PC brands – has released its take on the mini-laptop template, and it looks more than a little bit familiar. Strikingly so, in fact.

And that’s because it is the MSI Wind, or at least shares the same chassis, same Intel Atom processor, same 80GB hard disk, same fine-feeling keyboard. Surely, it can’t be identical in every regard, can it?

Not quite, but the differences are pretty minor. When it comes to its finish, the Advent 4211 abandons the MSI Wind blueprint: gone is the pearlescent Eee-like white, and instead the Advent is finished in a two-tone matte black and silver. It might have lost the eye-catching wow factor of the Wind U100, but its far from cheap looking – the matte black finish is shot through with subtle silver sparkles and the silvery grey interior is actually a bit of an improvement.

The less ostentatious finish is that bit less likely to accrue admiring glances on the train (although one or two members of the PC Pro team actually preferred it) but unless you think the posing rights are worth a £50 premium, it’s a small price to pay.

More crucially, though, the MSI Wind’s two-year cover shrinks to just one year on the Advent. But, again, given that such an inexpensive laptop would be amply covered by many people’s home insurance, it’s no great loss.

Software proves the final differentiator, with MSI’s Wind providing a trial of Office 2007 and the 4211 opting for Microsoft Works. Frankly, as we’d place the lovely, free OpenOffice in their stead anyway on a laptop like this, it’s of little consequence.

Given the identical hardware, it’s little surprise that the Advent closely mimics the MSI Wind in the performance and battery life stakes. Our application benchmarks reported an identical score of 0.38, and battery life stretched to the same modest levels. The two and half hours of light usage courtesy of the 2200mAh three-cell battery is still a touch underwhelming, however.

it_photo_5971So where does that leave the Advent 4211? It offers nearly all the features of the pricier MSI Wind U100 for £50 less, and also costs just £50 more than Acer’s Aspire One while offering a significantly better specification and XP Home to boot. It’s a bargain, plain and simple.

OK, the MSI Wind’s slip case has also disappeared to cut costs, but as you can pick one of those up for little more than a tenner, or just spend the £50 difference on a brand new laptop bag (or on the soon to be released high-capacity battery), we’d choose the Advent every time. Get one while stocks last, as something tells us they might not be around for long.

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