The Advent range of machines are PC World's in-house brand and offer great value for money. The only downside is that each machine tends to have a short shelf-life, so you need to act fast to pick up a bargain. The Advent 9315 (£450 inc. VAT) is typical of the range and at first glance is a very simple design. Unlike most laptops, this machine doesn't have any LED lights to signify whether it is actually on and whether there is any hard drive activity.
This was noticeable largely due to the Windows Vista Home Premium OS taking so long to boot up. Once up and running the 9315 handled well and, powered by an entry-level dual-core processor with more than enough memory installed, we found this a pleasing machine to use.
The design of the case is simple with a minimum number of ports around the sides and back of the machine. We'd liked to have seen more USB ports on the side, as all but one are placed on the rear. The plastic chassis may be basic in design - even the touchpad is cast from the same material - but it proved solid and resilient when being used on the daily commute. The mouse buttons were less impressive, being small and awkward to use.
Weighing in at 2.7kg, this is an average-size machine that returned a battery life, under Power Saver mode, of 97 minutes. When running on High Performance, you can expect this to drop, as we recorded a battery life of 84 minutes.
The keyboard is near full-size and while there was a degree of rattle to the keys, they have a reassuring stroke, which makes it easy to type for long periods.
Less impressive was the 15.4-inch Super-TFT screen. On mains power the screen seemed far more reliable, with DVDs looking particularly sharp. However, switch to battery power and you'll be forced to turn up the brightness as the panel has a very narrow viewing range. We found images tended to look washed out from any angle other than straight on.
With no quick access buttons for controlling media or launching help files, we were also surprised to find that Advent fail to include any software to help set this machine up other than to help you create recovery DVDs, which you should do as soon as you start using the laptop.
When it came to daily use, we found while it was initially slow to boot, once up and running, applications ran smoothly. While you won't be able to run too many programs at once, for everyday tasks we found it more than satisfactory.
Overall, the Advent 9315 has a few interesting points and while it won't suit the portable user, it will satisfy anyone looking for a budget-priced machine for the home.