When looking for a laptop you really have one major question to answer. Do you want power or do you want portability? Averantec’s line of 13″ laptops lean more toward the portability, but they also offer enough power to watch movies and other simple tasks.
- CPU: Mobile AMD Sempron 3000+ (1.8Ghz)
- LCD Size: 12″ XGA (1024×768) traditional anti-glare screen
- Combo CD/DVD Burner
- Wireless LAN: 802.11b/g
The Averatec 3700 line of laptops all come with the Mobile AMD Sempron 3000+. This is a low end processor that is geared more toward low power and low heat. Those are both very important in a laptop. If the processor uses too much power than your battery life will be shortened. If it runs too hot then you have to deal with a large noisy fan to keep it cool. There is a fan in this laptop and it turns on quite often . If you don’t like that and you can spare some CPU cycles, then you can press a button and turn the CPU down a notch to make it run cooler.
The 3700 features a 12″ XGA screen with a native resolution of 1024×768. The screen also has some anti-glare properties. This really helps if you are outside on a bright sunny day. At full brightness it is also easy to see in a well lit room.
The Averatec 3700 also has wireless LAN. The 3700 supports both 802.11b and 802.11g. These are two of the more popular wireless formats. For those that don’t have wireless, then don’t worry because there is a standard Ethernet (RJ-45) jack on the left. For those that are even more in the dark ages there is a modem jack right next to the RJ-45 jack.
There are two models of the 3700. The 3715-ED1 offers a DVD burner and 80 GB hard drive and the 3715-EH1 has a 60 GB hard drive and DVD player/CD burner combo.
The burning software that comes with the laptop is from the same company that makes the PowerDVD software. The Cyberlink DVD solution, Mediashow, Power2Go, PowerDVD and PowerProducer are all part of the CyberLink DVD Solution. It is a fairly competent CD/DVD authoring package.
Other software that comes with this computer is Mcafee VirusScan and Phoenix cME.
The Phoenix cME software provides the ability to backup your computer to a separate partition. This is enabled by default and can take up as much as 20GB of your hard drive. You can choose other options so that it does not take up as much space, or you can uninstall it to recover all of the space. It is only a trial version so eventually they are going to want you to pay for it. I would not rely on this as a permanent solution for protecting your system. If your hard drive fails then you will loose the main and backup partitions. I recommend that you use a seperate hard drive for backing up your information.
The first thing that you notice about the laptop is the design. It looks very similar to the Apple iBook. I don’t know if this was intensional, but because it is so similar, I would not be surprised if it did not borrow some aspects of its design from the Apple laptop.
The top of the Averatec 3700 is completely bare except for a small logo on the lip at the very bottom. I never liked the glowing apple symbol on the iBook, so having a bare top is an improvement for me.
The right side of the laptop is mostly dominated buy 3 USB slots. This is great if you use an external mouse and you are left handed. Being right handed I found that sometimes the plug on the mouse would get in the way of me moving around. There is also an exhaust for the internal fan and a VGA out plug. The VGA out lets you put information up on a larger screen or projector. Fortunately, you are not just limited to cloning the external monitor as you are with other laptops.
The left side of the Averatec 3700 is where you will find the modem, RJ-45 jack, DVD drive, card reader, expansion slot and firewire port. Except for the card reader, all of these things are fairly standard on most laptops. Honestly though, they probably could have removed the modem plug and instead put in another USB slot. Adding another USB slot would be great because then you could plug in a mouse and not have the plug get in the way.
The back of the 3700 is really bare. There is a power plug and a security slot, but nothing else. About 80% of the back is actually the back of the battery.
On the bottom of the 3700 you will see a latch for releasing the battery and a small lid that is screwed in. The lid is covering the CPU, Heatsink and exhaust fan.
The front of the 3700 has a small switch and two plugs. The switch is for turning on and off the WiFi and the plugs are microphone and headphones.
When you choose a laptop you must choose between size and performance. Performance laptops weigh a lot and they are huge. Smaller laptops don’t have big screens or fast processors. Personally I prefer my desktop to handle all my intensive tasks like graphics processing, gaming and number crunching. For my laptops I like them light and portable, but with enough power to play movies and surf the web.
Testing a laptop is slightly different than testing a desktop. With a laptop you need to be more concerned with battery life and less concerned with graphical benchmarks. To make testing even more difficult this laptop has a button that is used to lower the CPU speed so that it does not produce as much heat, and therefore less fan noise. I wanted to also see if lowering the CPU speed also reduced the amount of battery used up.
I ran all my battery tests using MobileMark 2005. This testing suite has several different tests. The DVD Playing test plays a professionally produced movie from a DVD over and over again until the battery is dead. The Productivity test opens several programs like Adobe Photoshop, Microsoft Word, and Excel and opens files in each of those and performs standard operations. The Network test connects to another computer on the network and scans through files. Finally the reading test opens a large text file in Netscape and slowly scrolls through it as though it were being read. I picked the DVD test to run because it seemed like the most power intensive. I figured this because it not only has to use the DVD drive but also a bit of CPU and graphics to show the movie. I ran the test with different power options turned on. Below you will see a grid of the test with different power settings.
and Wireless Off
and Silent Mode
|DVD Playing||163 Minutes||162 Minutes||128 Minutes|
The test did not all turn out as I expected. It looks like the battery was really only affected by the brightness of the screen. All the tests seemed to produce similar results for the different scenarios. We are trusting that the software tested correctly.
All the programs that I ran were very snappy. I used Nero InfoTool to determine what the DVD drive is capable of. According to Nero the DVD drive is a SlimType DVDRW SOSW-852S and it supports DVD +/- R and RW. There is Double Layer support for DVD+R DL, but not DVD-R DL. My DVD burning test went very smoothly and I got no errors. I tested DVD+RW, DVD-RW, DVD+R DL and for good measure I tried a DVD-R DL, but it didn’t work. Even the website for this drive indicates that it only supports DVD+R DL.
The screen performs well. The only time I noticed anything that I didn’t like was when it was at its lowest brightness setting. At this setting the screen would flicker and that really bugged my eyes.
Warranty and Support
Averatec offers a basic 1 year warranty. This would be ok as a starting point if they also offered the ability to increase the warranty by paying more. Unfortunately, they do not offer any additional warranties. As far as I could tell 1 year is all you get. Hopefully nothing breaks after that time because 1 year will go by really fast.
Averatec has certainly made a very solid and well rounded laptop. With the 3700 line of laptops you are not only going to get a very light laptop, but you are also going to get a laptop that has a good processor and decent graphics. Even better is the fact that the 3700 line of laptops is under $1000. The laptop that I reviewed, 3715-EH1, costs $849. You can choose a less expensive model, 3715-ED1, that costs $799, but the only difference is a DVD burner and a larger hard drive. If you do buy one of these, knowing that you are not getting a gaming machine, I don’t think you will be disappointed. If Averatec would offer a longer warranty I would feel better about recommending this computer. As it stands it is a good laptop and has a lot of good qualities. If a strong warranty is really important then this may not be the right machine for you. If you don’t care about the warranty then I think you will be happy with the performance and other features.
|JusTech'n editors' rating|