Saturday, September 13, 2008

Averatec 2575

by Michelle Thatcher
Price as reviewed $886.99 - $1,310.24

Processor: AMD Turion 64 X2 mobile technology (2.2 GHz); RAM installed: 2 GB DDR2 SDRAM; Weight: 4 lbs

Since we reviewed the Averatec 2371 last year, the company has taken its laptops in a whole new direction. Gone are the cheap-looking plastic cases and rock-bottom prices; in their place, the company offers a new minimalist design and slightly higher--though still competitive--prices. The new ultraportable in the company's lineup, the Averatec 2575, cuts a sleeker profile and offers improved performance for just a few hundred dollars more than its predecessor. That's not to say it's a total home run: the 2575's AMD processor doesn't match the performance offered by more expensive ultraportables, such as the Lenovo 3000 V200, and we wish it had a lengthier battery life. But for the money, the ultraportable Averatec 2575 offers an attractive display and a decent feature set in a well-designed package.

At 1.2 inches thick, the Averatec 2575 is slimmer than other bulky 12.1-inch systems, such as the Lenovo 3000 V200. In addition, the Averatec's glossy black lid and matte-black interior make it look even lighter than its 4-pound weight. Though that heft places it squarely on the line that divides ultraportables from thin-and-lights, we thought it sufficiently lightweight for frequent travel. (If you absolutely need something lighter than 4 pounds, check out our list of top ultraportable laptops.)

While many laptops in this category manage to squeeze in a 13.3-inch display, Averatec sticks with a traditional 12.1-inch screen. Fortunately the screen's sharp 1,280x800 native resolution provides a decent amount of real estate so you can keep two windows open side-by-side without feeling too cramped. We were less pleased with the screen's glossy finish, which proved quite reflective when sitting next to our office window.

The keyboard on the Averatec 2575, though not full size, was comfortable enough to type this review. We appreciate the recessed touch pad, which makes it less likely that you'll accidentally graze the pad while typing (a legitimate risk in the limited real estate of an ultraportable). While similar systems work in a fingerprint reader or quick-launch buttons, Averatec keeps the keyboard deck pretty minimal, including just an on/off button for the wireless radio.

The Averatec 2575's larger size means it can squeeze in a DVD burner and one more USB port than your typical ultraportable; otherwise, Averatec offers an average selection of ports and connections.

On CNET Labs' benchmarks, the Averatec 2575 suffered at the hands of its AMD Turion 64 X2 processor, which couldn't keep up with Core 2 Duo-based systems such as the Lenovo 3000 V200 and the Asus U6S. However, it did perform better than a $2,009 Fujitsu LifeBook P8010 built on Intel's small-form-factor Core 2 Duo SL7100 processor; the Averatec also bested a $1,000 MSI PR210 based on AMD's super-budget Athlon 64 X2 processor. In real-world terms, the differences are not that stark, and we stand by our usual advice: for common Web surfing, office applications, and basic multitasking, any modern dual-core laptop will perform at an acceptable level, with little, if any, stuttering or slowdown.

We were disappointed in the Averatec 2575's four-cell battery, which petered out after 92 minutes during our DVD playback test. Our drain test is especially grueling, so you can expect to see longer life during typical Windows use. Still, we'd prefer to see at least two--and preferably three or four--hours from a lightweight laptop that's designed for mobile use. (The company does plan to offer an optional 8-cell battery to provide a bit more juice, though the larger battery will likely add to the laptop's weight.)

Averatec includes an industry-standard one-year, parts-and-labor warranty with the system. Support is accessible through a 24-7 toll-free phone line ("excluding holidays"), an online knowledge base, and driver downloads. Also available on the Web site are PDF versions of Averatec's thorough user manuals, which include clear, detailed illustrations of each laptop's ports and features.