Averatec 3300 review

New kids on the block don't produce - or do they?

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Our Verdict

This is wonderful value. The addition of a decent graphics chip would render it pretty untouchable

For

  • Great battery life

    Lightweight

    Smart design

    Fully featured

    excellent price

Against

  • Based on the old Centrino platform

    Inadequate graphics

Here's a name to look out for: Averatec. Averatec is actually an arm of Trigem, the company that's responsible for the manufacture of many of the world's branded desktop PCs. You've probably never heard of them, but you've definitely seen the company's products before.

The 3300 is the company's first stab at the laptop market. It's an inexpensive Centrino-based model and, what's more, it's an ultra-portable.

It's actually a very decent platform, and certainly has some decent entertainment credentials. But just like the AJP opposite, there's much that is traded off for the small form factor. Like the AJP, there's no dedicated graphics chip here.

It will still be some months before we start to see Nvidia's Go 6600 graphics chip come to market, which should make high-level 3D gaming on ultraportable laptops a reality. With PCs it's pretty much always the case that if you can wait a few months, something better will turn up, and it's definitely worth holding out for this new chipset if you desire a slender portable gaming platform above all else.

Delve deeper and you'll see that it's not just in graphics that the 3300 is outdated. While it boasts one of the latest Pentium M processors running at a reasonable 1.5MHz, the Centrino platform it uses is an old one. Intel has recently upgraded both the chipset and the wireless card that - together with the processor - make up the Centrino trinity.

The latest Centrino chipset, which isn't in this laptop, incorporates new technologies such as PCI Express and 802.11a compatibility (not just b and g). 802.11a is certainly useful if you visit the States - most Wi-Fi hotspots there are 802.11a.

The 3300 would lose a beauty contest if it was up against anything from the houses of Apple or Sony, but it wouldn't be with nil points and an embarrassed bow. Apart from the oversized bezel around the top of the 12.1-inch screen, the unit looks good and is well screwed together. Everything works well. The trackpad, for example, is nicely flush with the main body.

Our only bugbear is that you need to manually activate the Wi-Fi connection. And while the 3300 doesn't turn heads like an Apple PowerBook: it sparked some interest from Digital Home's neighbouring colleagues in the office, but they don't get out much.

An AMD Athlon XP-M version of this laptop is also available, for £100 less, but the Centrino platform represents the best option for battery life. We managed to get a good three-and-a-half hours out of it.

We'd expect this to drop to around two-and-a-half hours with use, depending on how much time the optical drive spends spinning. If you're in the market for a thin and portable PC solution, this one's definitely worth considering.