Advent 8212 review

£599
Price when reviewed

We weren’t expecting to see any 12.1in portables at £499 in this month’s Labs, but we actually received not one but two. Advent’s 8212 is the better of the pair – MSI’s Megabook S271 is the other – but it actually holds its own against the bigger boys, too.

Advent 8212 review

The main reason is the processor, with Advent somehow managing to squeeze a 1.8GHz Core 2 Duo T7100 into the budget. It’s by no means a top-end CPU in the grand scheme of things, but compared to the other processors in this Labs it’s a real speed demon. A score of 0.88 in our benchmarks bears this out, helped by an extremely generous 2GB of memory.

It’s surprising enough that the smallest notebook in the group also offers the best performance, but it isn’t the only notable feature. The 8212 also sports an Intel 965GM chipset, plus a wireless module supporting 802.11 draft-n for connecting to the latest generation of super-fast routers. The 120GB hard disk is among the more capacious this month, there’s a fast DVD writer, plus a 1.3-megapixel webcam above the screen. The Intel GMA X3100 graphics won’t see you gaming, though.

It may not be the pinnacle of style, but we much preferred the silver finish of the Advent to the black of the MSI; it just looks and feels sleeker. The 36mm width and 1.9kg weight make it the most portable notebook of the group, although it must be said that the 2,200mAh battery is disappointing. If you want more than two-and-a-half hours under light use, you may need to add an extended battery, which will protrude like that on the MSI.

There are a few other compromises of note: the speakers are terrible; the right side of the keyboard is a little cramped; it lacks Gigabit Ethernet; and it’s the only notebook with neither a PC Card nor an ExpressCard slot for expansion. But the increased processing power will balance this out for the majority of users. It’s a better choice than the portable MSI, and to its immense credit we’d also choose the Advent 8212 ahead of most of the larger models, too.

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