by Andrew Johnson, Alaska USA
Averatec calls their 4200 series notebook “not too big, not too small…just perfect.” For mobile users who want great portability but a more practical screen size and keyboard (and price!), this might be exactly correct.
Averatec 4200 (view larger image)
Averatec 4200 Specs as tested:
- CPU: Intel Pentium M 730 (1.6GHz)
- OS Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition
- LCD Size 13.3″ WXGA with AveraBrite
- Optical Drive Multi-Format DVD +/- Burner
- Hard Drive 80 GB
- Memory 512MB DDR
- Wireless LAN 802.11b/g
- Dimensions 12.44″ x 8.81″ x 1.3″
- Weight (lbs.) 4.7 lbs.
Build & Design:
Averatec chose an interesting color scheme for the 4200. When open, the keyboard, palm-rest, and screen bezel are all a simple elegant white. It looks outstanding, and is one of the very few notebooks I’ve encountered with an even bezel width surrounding the screen. This is how notebooks should look.
I think the white theme would have looked great all around, but Averatec chose a blue-metallic flake finish for the back of the screen, with silver trim, adding at least one too many colors. The bottom is silver as well.
The build quality is OK but not spectacular. It seems to be better than older Averatec notebooks and as good as or better than a lot of small notebooks. There is a still a little flex all over, including the keyboard. The LCD will show ripples only with a hard push on the back of the screen. There is no LCD latch, which is great! The screen just closes and stays closed. Latches always seem to be the first thing to break, and the Averatec looks more sleek without one.
Averatec 4200 above view of lid (view larger image)
Averatec 4200 Right side view (view larger image)
Averatec 4200 above right side view (view larger image)
Averatec 4200 under side view (view larger image)
Build quality issues or just shipping to Alaska?
When I received the notebook the optical drive looked like it stuck out a fraction of an inch too much. When I turned on the computer the drive did not work. All I had to do is loosen a set screw and push the drive in, and then everything worked out fine.
Also, in my testing I wasn’t able to run HD Tune all the way through because there were a couple bad sectors on the hard drive. Averatec did offer to send a replacement immediately, however.
The screen is the popular glossy type and comparable to other manufacturers screens. It has fantastic crispness, saturation and contrast and it is very bright. Blacks are very deep, and the illumination is very even. Its viewing angle performance is average for a good notebook, and DVD’s look great.
The two tiny speakers point forward and slightly down, and while not impressive actually get fairly loud and are not too bad.
Processor and Performance:
The efficient Pentium M processor is fast, even at the 1.6GHz speed available with the Averatec. The 4200 is fast and snappy in all tasks. Program loading is a bit slow due to the 4200RPM hard drive. A 7200 rpm drive would really speed things up.
Heat and Noise:
In my testing the Averatec was extremely quiet. In fact, the fan was almost always off. When it turns on it is loud enough to be heard up close in a room with people talking, but it is not an annoying sound or unusually loud. The right side of the palm rest got a bit warm under light use but not uncomfortably so. Under heavier use it got a bit too warm for my tastes, and the entire notebook warms some. Underneath gets even warmer and sometimes hot. Maybe the fan should come on more. On the bright side, the fan has long cycles. It doesn’t turn on and off annoyingly.
With an Intel 915 chipset and integrated graphics, the Averatec 4200 is not a gaming notebook. Still, the Intel solution is much better than some other integrated graphic solutions, and will play plenty of older 3D games like Battlefield 1942.
Super Pi Results: below are times it takes for the 4200 and competing notebooks to calculate Pi to 2 million digits of accuracy:
|Averatec 4200 (1.6GHz Pentium M)||2m 02s|
|Fujitsu S6231 (1.6 GHz Pentium M)||2m 6s|
|Sony VAIO FS680 (1.86 GHz Pentium M)||1m 53s|
|IBM ThinkPad T43 (1.86 GHz Pentium M)||1m 45s|
|Asus Z70A (1.6GHz Pentium M)||1m 53s|
|Fujitsu LifeBook N3510 (1.73 GHz Pentium M)||1m 48s|
|Dell Inspiron 6000D (1.6 GHz Pentium M)||1m 52s|
|Dell Inspiron 600M (1.6 GHz Pentium M)||2m 10s|
|Sony VAIO S360 (1.7 GHz Pentium M)||1m 57s|
|HP DV4170us (Pentium M 1.73 GHz)||1m 53s|
|Sony VAIO S380 (1.86 GHz Pentium M)||1m 45s|
HD Tune: As mentioned before, the hard drive had a few bad sectors which prevented a full test of the HD Tune benchmark from running. However, I achieved a maximum 32.7 megabytes and a minimum of about 20 megs very near the end of the test where it encountered and errored.
Keyboard and Touchpad:
The keyboard is both good and bad. I like the layout, with delete easy to find in the corner and an extra column for home, pgup, pgdn, end keys. However it’s not quite full sized, and the “enter,” backspace, and right shift keys are especially small. I happen to be fond of all three of these keys, so it’s too bad they don’t get the full size they deserve. This annoys me because there is room for a bigger keyboard too, which seems to be a common problem with notebooks. I wonder if it was an aesthetic choice because the keyboard is precisely the same width as the screen. It does look good, but in this case I would have preferred function over form.
The touchpad is sleek and flush with the palm rest, as are the two mouse buttons. The touchpad has scrolling function. The buttons don’t have as positive of a feel as some, and it’s a bit easy to accidentally brush the touchpad while typing.
Averatec 4200 Keyboard and Touchpad view (view larger image)
Input and Output Ports:
Nothing out of the ordinary here, but the layout is well thought out. The 4200 includes the standard USB 2.0 ports (one on the right, two on the left), a mini 1394 (firewire), modem, Ethernet, s-video, and VGA ports. There is also a 4-in-1 media card reader. It doesn’t read Compact Flash, which is the only type of memory card I use. Bummer.
As part of the Centrino package, there is built in Intel pro wireless 802.11b/g wireless LAN. It works well and connected to an assortment of wireless hotspots in my area, as well as my home wireless network, without problems.
Averatec has a couple of unique battery saving features. It is an integrated button somewhat unintuitively labeled “S,” which toggles a low power mode on and off. This lets you change between performance and battery saving modes quickly without using software. There is also a function key which toggles the LCD off without putting the notebook to sleep. Useful for people conscientious enough to use the feature. Another feature that can be enabled in BIOS is an auto dimming of the LCD after no user input for a while. This also saves the LCD backlight. Even with these features, battery life is nothing amazing for this type of notebook. Also, strangely, my Windows battery meter didn’t give a time estimate for battery life. It only listed a percentage.
Battery life varies greatly with usage, but I was able to get over 3 hours with regular light use with wireless on and screen brightness at a comfortable level. DVD playback was a useful 140 minutes with wireless off and screen at maximum.
Operating System and Software:
The 4200 includes Windows XP home and a fairly low amount of “annoyware.” Microsoft Works and Cyberlink DVD are included and useful.
There’s not much to complain about. Averatec put together a nice looking notebook that offers a lot for its price. My biggest complaint is the keyboard. I don’t understand why something that costs 100 times more than a decent desktop keyboard doesn’t have an amazing one itself! Also the notebook gets too warm sometimes, but the fan only comes on when it gets even hotter. I think things would be better if the fan just kicked on at a lower speed.
13.3″ is a great size for a widescreen notebook. It’s small and light, but fits comfortably in your lap. The keyboard is not as cramped as an ultraportable, and 1280×800 is a great resolution for this size screen. It would be too little for a 15.4″ notebook and too much for a smaller notebook.
The Averatec 4200 series is a great notebook with good specifications at a very competitive price. The Multi Format DVD burner is a real bonus at this price range. It also looks great! It’s easy to buy because there are not many options. It comes well equipped but won’t be best for those who like to customize. Battery life is worse than many competitors like Fujitsu and IBM, but the cost savings might be more than worth it if that’s not your top priority. As long as the build quality holds up, it’s a great choice.
- Great looks
- Good performance
- Fantastic screen
- Great value
- Good battery life
- Build quality / quality control not top notch.
- Keyboard could be improved upon
Pricing and Availability