Advent MT-22 review

The multitouch MT22 is Advent’s second go at producing a fully featured all-in-one desktop PC, following the stylish, but pricey AIO-200 in early 2009 (web ID: 245417). Happily, this time around the price is far more enticing, coming in below £500 before VAT.

The cost is kept down partly by an economical choice of processor. Where the AIO-200 splashed out on a mobile Core 2 Quad, the MT22 settles for a Pentium Dual-Core T4400 at 2.2GHz. By today’s standards that may sound underwhelming, but supported by a solid 3GB of RAM it achieved an overall 2D benchmark score of 1.01. That’s enough power for everyday internet and office tasks, without any of the sluggishness that afflicts Atom-based nettops. Admittedly, you wouldn’t choose this system as a high-performance workstation, but that was always a given.

For graphics, Advent has gone with an Nvidia Ion GPU. Like the CPU, it’s a low-power part but it has no problem filling the MT22’s 21.5in display with Full HD video, whether in the form of media files or high-definition YouTube movies. The only missing option is Blu-ray: despite the 1080p display, the MT22 comes with a regular DVD writer. We were also pleased to note that the speakers go loud enough that you don’t have to be sitting right in front of the screen to watch.

The Ion isn’t a gaming graphics chip, so don’t expect to enjoy fast-moving 3D games at native resolution. As you’ll see from our benchmark results, Crysis was barely playable even at our lowest settings. But it’s usable for casual simulations and 3D adventures, and it won’t wreck your electricity bill. Working flat out in our Crysis test the whole system peaked at just 72W.

For an ostensibly lightweight system, the rest of the hardware list is impressive too, starting with a generous 640GB hard disk. This isn’t user-upgradeable, but if you do need extra storage there’s eSATA, and with an additional four USB ports at the back and two more at the left hand side, it’s safe to say connectivity shouldn’t be a problem. You also get both wired and wireless networking, and a combined SD/Memory Stick card reader.

The cherry on top is a DVB-T Freeview TV tuner, along with HDMI and D-SUB inputs that let the MT22 act as the heart of an entertainment centre. It all adds up to a very appealing specification for a small flat or student bedsit – especially since it folds flat for easy transportation.

Advent MT-22

Of course, we have a few reservations. The first is the design. The MT22 feels sturdy enough, but the silver and black plastic case , with its transparent plastic rim, looks, well, plasticky. We’re not sure about the power light either, which not only reflects off the right-hand edge of the rim but also leaks out at the top and bottom. Advent may think this is pretty swish, but next to the elegant Sony VAIO J11 or the Acer Aspire Z5610 the whole assembly simply looks cheap.

That’s a sense that carries over to the input hardware, too: where the VAIO’s solid keyboard confirms the sense of quality, here a spongy feel and a bare design only reinforce the impression of a budget PC. You can of course use any USB keyboard, and replace the basic wheel-mouse should you so wish.

More fundamental are questions over the quality of the screen and speakers. The MT22’s LCD display is sharp and punchy, but we’ve seen brighter displays, and we’ve certainly seen more vibrant colours: overall the movie experience is satisfactory rather than stunning. Similarly, although the speakers are of a decent size, their sound is flat and boxy to the point that we’d hesitate to use the MT22 as a music centre.

Finally, the MT22 joins the growing procession of devices that offer multi-touch displays but don’t seem to know why. Advent plays it safe by bundling the Microsoft Touch Pack, and otherwise makes no attempt to promote the touch interface. Still, there’s no harm having it as an option.

On paper, the MT22 ticks a lot of boxes at a good price, and it doesn’t seriously fall down in any particular area. Unfortunately, although its weaknesses aren’t catastrophic, they lie in the areas you see, hear and feel directly: the screen, speakers, case and keyboard. That makes it a difficult system to fall for on an emotional level. If you’re on a tight budget its versatility is appealing, but as a lifestyle accessory the Advent MT22 is liable to cheapen your front room and your media.

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