by Gail Bjork (owner/editor www.digicamhelp.com), Florida USA
Overview and Introduction:
The Averatec 3270 is a thin and light notebook made by Averatec. Unlike most other thin and lights, the 3270 costs under $1000. There are frequent rebate offers. I paid $799.00, after a $100 rebate.
Configuration and features:
- Model: AV3270-EE1
- CPU: Mobile AMD Sempron 2800
- Operating System: Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition
- LCD: Size 12.1″
- Optical Drive: Multi-Format DVD +/- Burner
- Hard Drive: 60 GB; 5400 RPM
- Memory: 512MB DDR*
- Wireless LAN: 802.11g
- Fax/Modem: 56k v.92
- USB: (3x) 2.0
- 3-in-1 Media Card Reader: MS/MMC/SD
- Built-in stereo speakers, microphone and external volume control button
- AC power adapter
- Dimensions: (WxDxH) 10.9″ x 9.6″ x 1″
- Weight: 4.5 lbs.
(* Single memory module slot for up to one GB; memory upgrade requires pulling out the existing module and replacing it with a new one.)
Reasons for Buying:
The Averatec 3270 is the first ever notebook computer I owned and I wanted one that was small and lightweight. I knew nothing about notebooks at the time of purchase. I bought it primarily to use when I travel to our second home, and for my husband, a virtual computer novice, who uses it only to surf the net and call his family in Europe via Skype.
Unfortunately, I did not look at other laptops prior to buying. I heard about Averatec notebooks in a photography forum and then visited two PC sites where some models were given decent reviews but discussed nothing about my eventual concerns. I was unaware of notebook forums at the time, so didn’t know that a number of Averatec users had several the same concerns that I only became aware of after my purchase (but not soon enough to return it).
Where and How Purchased:
I bought the 3270 at a local Staples.
Build & Design:
The 3270 has a lovely, sleek design and I personally like the gray metallic color. While lightweight, it still feels sturdy and well-built. The door easily opens and there is a nice “tightness” with no wobbling of the cover or ripples on the screen. Ports and plugs fit nicely together and they don’t wiggle much when you insert or pull out a plug. It fits nicely on a lap but is definitely too hot to use in this manner, at least not without some sort of a cooling pad. My biggest complaint about the layout is that the 3 USB ports are all in the place, right near where I use a mouse.
Averatec 3270 top side view
The 3270 screen is very nice and has no dead pixels. It is bright, clear, crisp and easy to read. You can adjust screen brightness, but that’s all. At some angles, the monitor looks mottled but you simply need to change the position of the screen. The 3270 has a screen resolution of 1024 x 768. Personally, I’ve increased the font size for both the screen and browsers for easier reading.
The stereo speakers are adequate, though slightly tinny sounding. The sound is much better, especially for voice, when using headphones.
Processor and Performance:
The 512 MB of RAM is sufficient for surfing the web, email, word processing and light image editing. When transferring images via the built-in memory card reader, it takes about three times longer than using an external USB 2 card reader in one of the three USB ports. Still, it is a nice feature if you use the limited type memory cards the built-in reader accommodates. I am not into gaming at all, but the 3270 has adequate power for digital photography post processing and publishing images and files to my digital photography website. The 3270 is more than adequate for this type of workflow. When turning it on, the 3270 fully boots up in just under 60 seconds.
Keyboard and Touchpad:
The keypads work well and are responsive for my needs but they do take some getting used to. They don’t have the “crisp, snappy” feel of standard computer key pads. The touchpad is okay but I prefer using a mouse. When I do use the touchpad, it generally works fine. The cursor only occasionally jumps around. I wish the location of the FN and Ctrl keys were switched. I often hit the FN button because it’s located in the same place as the Ctrl key on computer keyboards. If I typed more on the 3270 than I typically do, I’d adapt.
Power button, function button and LED lights on top row of keyboard
Input /Output Ports and Expansion:
The 3270 has three USB 2.0 ports, a 56k modem port and a 10/100 Ethernet port. All work well. It also has a 12 pin VGA OUT port for an external monitor. In addition, the 3270 has the following: a 3-1 memory card reader, a PC Slot for adding one peripheral such as a Bluetooth wireless device and slot for a standard Kensington lock. It also has Audio Output and Microphone Input ports, but no Firewire port.
Averatec 3270 front side ports
Averatec 3270 left side ports
Averatec 3270 right side ports (notice USB ports are all in the same location)
Averatec 3270 under side view
The 3270 comes with a built-in 802.11g wireless LAN, which has worked problem free; though some users say its signal strength is weaker than those found on other notebooks. There is no built-in Bluetooth and no infrared port.
The battery life is disappointing. Before I purchased the 3270 I called Averatec and was told I’d get about three hours. I’ve never gotten anywhere near that time. If I’m lucky, I get an hour and 45 minutes and that’s simply surfing the net and writing email. If you want to watch a full-length DVD without having to use a second battery, forget it. Starting with a fully charged battery, the 3270 simply conks out in just over an hour after the show begins.
Operating System and Software:
The 3270 comes with Windows XP home edition, CD/DVD burning software, software for watching DVDs and Recovery software called Phoenix cME. Microsoft Works is also included.
No system restore/recovery or programs disks are provided by the manufacturer. Instead you get a single page leaflet with a printed photo of a CD disk and some text on it. It informs you that software is pre-installed on the notebook hard drive and that you simply must follow the steps to restore the notebook to the original factory settings. Needless to say, the restore process will wipe away all personally installed programs and files, so make your make your own recovery disk and back ups.
Averatec 3270 Rescue and Recover software “disk”, or rather printed page telling you how to find restore software on the hard drive
Phonenix cME is confusing for someone like me who has only minimum technical computing expertise. I called Averatec for help understanding the program. I was told I don’t need it because the recovery software is pre-installed. I’m sure those more sophisticated in this area can get a better handle on using it.
Customer support is generally good, though occasionally you’ll get someone who doesn’t quite know what he’s talking about. Averatec offers a toll-free 24/7 number in the U.S. No mater what time of day I’ve called, there was surprisingly little wait-time compared to other computer vendors. Emails are answered promptly, too, though replies to questions are not as good as when talking to someone on the phone. But if you ask further questions, you should receive an email response within less than 24 hours.
As of this writing, the Averatec online knowledge base is poor so don’t expect to find many answers to questions that are not already in the pdf version of the manual. If fact, as I write this review, any search in the Averatec Customer Support area returns a “Your search for XXXX found no results.”
The 3270 is warranted against defects for one year from the date of purchase, except the notebook battery, which is covered for six months. For repairs, you must ship the unit to an Averatec Authorized Repair Facility.
I have three serious concerns about the 3270, two that I consider major:
- The fan runs ALL THE TIME, even when the unit is powered by electricity. It’s annoying. If the fan ran at its lowest sounding speed rather than at a mid speed, I’d have no complaint.
- The 3270 manual says on page 33, “The computer’s processor has been specially designed to consume little power, and generates very little heat.” In my experience, this is untrue!! It can run very hot and from what I’ve now read in notebook forums, this seems par for the course for Averatec notebooks manufactured at the time of the 3270 and before.
With the AC adapter plugged in, it runs between 54 – 58 degrees Celsius, depending on what you’re doing. When using the battery only, the 3270 runs so hot that I can not hold it on my lap. When I unplug the AC adapter, within a minute the temperature goes up to 59 – 60 degrees C. When playing a video clip running the battery, the temperature can sometimes rise to 70 degrees Celsius. I typically work in a 76 degree Fahrenheit air conditioned room.
Temperatures were recorded using MobileMeter: (http://www.geocities.co.jp/SiliconValley-Oakland/8259/)
- Battery life is poor. It gets only about 1 1/2 hours. I use the 3270 primarily for writing email and surfing the web with a broadband connection, so there is no great processing power used. What’s most disappointing is that I can’t even watch a 1 1/2 hour DVD to the end before the 3270 conks out.
Calibrating the battery and fan doesn’t improve a thing as far as battery and fan performance are concerned.
Thin and lightweight with a decent number of features for the money. Good looking. Reads and writes both CDs and DVDs.
The 3270 is an okay notebook in a lovely, thin body. After I purchased the 3270 and began having some concerns about the heat, fan and battery life, I took a look at other brand laptops owned by family and friends. All paid around the same price as I did. Their notebooks may be a bit heavier and slightly larger and thicker, but are quiet by comparison and you can actually use them on your lap without sweating. They have much longer battery life AND you can watch a full length DVD with battery power to spare.
However, if an inexpensive, 12″ thin and light notebook is what you’re looking for, a 3XXX series Averatec may meet your needs. But be sure you don’t require huge processing demands, will primarily use AC power rather than the battery, and don’t mind the fan running all the time…or the heat.
If I were to buy another notebook in the near future, it would not be an Averatec. I’d be more than willing to pay more money for a small, lightweight, less annoying notebook which runs cool, quiet and has a much better battery life.
Averatec recently introduced the AV3715 that, on paper anyway, sounds like an improved version of the 3270 and costs about the same price, though there have been a few reports about it not starting. If you’re determined to buy an Averatec, give it a thorough testing during the initial 10-14 day time period so you can return it to the merchant where you bought it if it’s too loud, too hot or has a disappointing battery life.
About the Author
Gail founded and runs the popular www.digicamhelp.com website where she makes it simple to find out about and understand more regarding digital cameras and photography.
Pricing and Availability: Averatec 3270