Advent is the in-store brand of PC World, so you'll only ﬁnd this line on offer in its shops and online.
The Advent 5421 (£299 inc. VAT) is the entry-level model and offers all the basic features you need to get mobile, including a reasonable weight and sufﬁcient power to handle everyday tasks.
The design is a mix of basic and neat design touches. For instance, there is a glossy lid that has a wave design that is mirrored on the palm rests by ridged matt plastic. However, the underlying black and silver ﬁnish is rather businesslike.
Build quality is acceptable for the price, as the plastic used feels tough and sturdy, but we were less impressed with the hinges used to hold the 15.4-inch screen in place.
The screen tended to rock as we typed when sat at a desk, and was even more pronounced when using it on the daily commute.
The screen is bright and the colour contrast reasonable considering the price of this laptop. However, you won't be able to do anything but basic tasks, as the SiSM672MX graphics card is a budget solution that can't compete with other similar integrated chipsets.
Dismal battery performance
This same basic performance can also be seen in the use of an Intel 1.86GHz Celeron Dual Core T1500 processor. With 1024MB of memory in support, we found that Windows Vista loaded slowly, taking close to two minutes to load. A memory upgrade will solve this problem. Daily use is acceptable, but you won't be able to run anything too demanding on this machine.
Weighing 2.7kg, this is a semi-portable machine, making it great for using about the house or for occasional outside use.
However, when it came to battery life, this laptop was disappointing, lasting 97 minutes in standard use. When using the DVD rewriter to watch a DVD this dropped to a mere 65 minutes, one of the worst test scores we've seen on a laptop.
The keyboard is pushed to the back of the main board, so you'll need to reach over to get a comfortable typing position. The keys are square and are of a good size, so are easy to get accustomed to. Less impressive is the rattling sound they make as you type. You need to strike the keys quite hard for them to respond.
While reasonably comfortable to use, the keyboard is quite poor overall. The same faults can also be found with the mouse buttons. The single strip has dual-function support, but we found it needed a solid click to use either end.
The Advent 5421 is something of a mixed bag in terms of build quality and performance. It has a good screen and build quality, but people will be deterred by the response of the keyboard.