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Averatec 4200 13" Widescreen Notebook

Editor's rating (1-5):
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Review Posted June 23, 2005 by Lisa Gade, Editor in Chief

Who says a widescreen Centrino notebook with a bright, glassy display weighing less than 5 lbs. has to cost $2,000 or more? Averatec has a way of bringing notebooks to market that cost far less than competing brands. While Averatec's very first notebooks sold several years ago were light but average in looks and specs, their latest offerings have great specs and the looks to match, targeting potential Sony Vaio and Apple iBook buyers. Their 10.6" Averatec 1000 notebook, a part of their new lineup is also an excellent choice if you're looking for the smallest possible subnotebook, while the 13.3" 4200 fits more mainstream subnotebook tastes.

The 4200's interior is finished in matte white, while the outside cover is a deep blue. Averatec plans to offer a selection of very attractive top cover colors and we saw a range of those colors in person, some of which you can see below. In addition, they'll offer a send-in service for those who wish to change their notebook's cover color.

Averatec notebook colors


But a pretty face isn't everything, and the Averatec's 4200 Mobile Pentium M 730 processor, Centrino architecture, 512 megs of DDR RAM, 80 gig hard drive and integrated DVD burner mean this notebook is ready for real work. It features Averatec's widescreen 13.3" AveraBrite™ display which is similar to Sony's XBrite and Fujitsu's Crystal View displays. The display is bright, sharp and has that glassy look which makes photos and movies look great.

Averatec 4200 notebook PC

Design and Ergonomics

The Averatec is light, slim and extremely attractive. It weighs in at 4.7 lbs. and measures 12.44” x 8.81” x 1.3” which means it can fit on an airplane's tray table and won't weigh down your backpack terribly.

Averatec 4200 top view

All interior surfaces are finished in matte white and the bottom is silver. The full sized notebook keyboard itself is a slightly cooler shade of white, as is the trackpad. Our unit came with a dark blue colored top lid which is attractive and isn't a fingerprint magnet. An array of LEDs at the front left corner below the keyboard indicate charging activity, WiFi, hard disk activity, caps lock and NUM lock. Color coordinated rubber bumpers around the display keep just enough distance between the top and bottom halves of the laptop so that the keyboard's keys don't leave marks on the screen. Like some recent Sony Vaio notebook models, the notebook stays shut via compression hinges in the rear rather than using a latch up front.

On the front edge of the computer, you'll find the WiFi on/off slider switch, stereo 3.5mm headphone jack and 3.5mm mic jack. The DVD drive, two USB 2.0 ports, modem jack and card reader slot are located on the notebook's left side. On the right side you'll find the PC card slot, a USB 2.0 port, an unpowered FireWire IEEE 1394 port, a PS2 port, an RJ45 10/100 Ethernet jack and a vent. The power jack and a standard VGA port live on the uncluttered back side of the Averatec.

bottom of laptop

The unit has a two button trackpad which works nicely, though tapping and double-tapping directly on the touchpad require a strong thump with the finger. The keyboard is roomy enough but the key travel is too small and the keys feel dead, which means reduced tactile feedback. The Home key is located directly to the right of the only slightly oversized backspace key and I found myself hitting the Home key by accident all too often. The keyboard is the only real complaint we had for this otherwise wonderful, bargain-priced notebook.

Horsepower and Performance

The Averatec 4200 runs the latest generation of Intel Centrino technology (915GM Express Chipset with Intel GMA 900 graphics), utilizing the 1.6 GHz Pentium M 730 processor with 2 megs of level 2 cache and a 533 MHz front side bus. It comes with 512 megs of DDR RAM, uses standard SO DIMMs and can carry a maximum of 2 gigs of RAM. One slot is under the large cover on the bottom of the computer and the other is under the keyboard. The unit comes with an ultra-ATA 80 gig 5400 rpm Western Digital Scorpio 2.5" hard drive with 2 megs of cache and a 12ms average seek time. Centrino is the way to go, unless you're looking for a large, desktop replacement notebook. The Centrino architecture and associated Pentium M processors run faster than desktop Pentium IV's rated at the same clock speed, yet use much less power and generate less heat. They're perfect as a mobile solution, offering enough power for MS Office apps, web surfing, movie playback, light to moderate graphics processing (limited more by the graphics card than the CPU) and even gaming. The Averatec is plenty fast enough unless you want to do lots of video processing (making movies) or play the most demanding games.

Want to burn DVDs or CDs on the go? The Averatec 4200's DVD RW+/- drive can burn to any CD or DVD re-writable media (+ and -), as well as play CDs and DVDs. The drive speeds are: 8X DVD Read, 24X CD read and write, 8x DVD+ write, 4x DVD- write, 2x DVD - RW, 4x DVD +RW. Averatec includes CyberLink PowerDVD, PowerProducer, Power 2Go and CyberLink's integrated launcher for media playback and burning.

Integrated card readers are becoming ever so popular on notebooks these days, and the Averatec 4200 has an SD/MMC/Memory Stick/Memory Stick Pro card reader built in.

Screen, Sound and Multimedia

The display is truly lovely on the Averatec 4200. Their AveraBrite display isn't quite as luminous as Sony's XBrite displays, but the Averatec is half the price and stunning enough to garner only praise. Bright, glassy displays are all the rage on widescreen mid to high end notebooks and it's wonderful to see one on a laptop priced under $1,200. The 1280 x 800 resolution is perfect for watching DVD movies, working with Excel spreadsheets and playing games that support widescreen modes. It's bright, very color saturated, clear and sharp and makes photos look all the more striking.

The display is driven by an Intel GMA 900 integrated graphics chipset (a part of the Centrino package) with 96 megs of RAM that's shared with system RAM. That's Intel's latest graphics processor , with a 256 bit graphics core, Up to 8.5 GB/sec memory bandwidth with DDR2 533 MHz RAM, and 3D acceleration with support for 4 pixel pipes. In short, it's pretty darned good for an integrated notebook solution and can handle all but the most demanding current games which require discrete graphics processors well. The machine got an average of 30 fps in Unreal Tournament 2003 at high quality settings and 1024 x 768 resolution — not bad.

The Averatec has two small speakers located on the front edge. Sound quality and volume is mediocre through these built-in stereo speakers, which is true of many notebooks under 6 pounds. For serious multimedia, you'll want to use the standard 3.5mm stereo headphone jack and a set of headphones instead. The notebook has a mic jack so plug a mic into the standard 3.5mm audio-in jack . The 4200 uses a Realtek AC '97 integrated digital audio controller. Sound out through headphones was excellent for MP3 playback, and the notebook has a dedicated button to launch Windows Media player.

Ports, WiFi and Expandability

The Averatec 4200 has a full compliment of ports, despite the budget price and compact design. It comes with Intel PRO Wireless 2200BG 802.11b/g WiFi, which had very good range and reliability in our tests. You can use Intel's networking utility or Windows to manage WiFi connections. Like most notebooks, it also has integrated10/100 wired Ethernet and a 56k v.92 modem. There are three USB 2.0 ports, an IEEE1394 iLink 4 pin (unpowered) Firewire port , a PS2 port, a standard VGA port and standard audio out and in jacks. The PCMCIA slot supports type I and II cards and CardBus cards. The unit has a card slot that accepts SD, MMC, Memory Stick and Memory Stick Pro media. If you're working with CF cards, you can get a CF to PCMCIA adapter and access the CF card in the PCMCIA slot. How nice to not need an external card reader.

Battery Life

Runtimes were quite good for a small notebook with a 2,000 mAh smart Lithium Ion battery. Averatec claims 4 hours, and we consistently got 3.5 hours with WiFi on, screen brightness set two notches from the top and power management set to notebook/portable. The 6 cell battery is very compact, long, thin affair, so carrying a spare for those very long trips won't be a burden. But for many, the Averatec will offer enough staying power with only the original battery. It can play a full length DVD movie and have power to spare for more work or play. The unit reliably resumed from sleep and hibernation, and the default power management settings are not overbearingly conservative (some notebooks achieve long runtimes by setting CPU speed very low and greatly reducing screen brightness for the default power settings).

Software and Included Stuff

The unit ships with Windows XP Home Edition, the full suite of CyberLink CD and DVD tools, Norton AntiVirus, Microsoft Works, MS PowerPoint viewer, and a Phoenix BIOS Windows-based management tool. Averatec includes a pre-installed PDF manual but no printed manual (an insert in the box says they do this to save trees). There are no recovery CDs; instead should you need to re-install your OS, apps or set the computer back to its factory state you'll do so using the recovery partition which occupies 9.9 gigs of the 80 gig hard drive. Averatec includes an instruction sheet telling you how to restore you notebook from the recovery partition. The Phoenix BIOS application allows you to create recovery CDs, should you prefer having it on media and reclaiming space on the hard disk.


Wow, only $1,199 list price for a slick looking 13.3" widescreen notebook that weighs less than 5 pounds?! Not only that, Averatec didn't scrimp on the internals: the latest Centrino chipset, a 1.6 GHz Pentium M processor, 512 megs of RAM and a DVD burner inside. Great stuff! The display is a joy, the notebook works as good as it looks, it offers good runtimes and won't burn a hole in your pants since the CPU is cool compared to mobile Pentium IV processors. Our only complaint is the somewhat dead, short travel keyboard; but if you're on a budget and have rich tastes, you'll likely accommodate to it in short order.

List Price: $1,199 US, 1 year warranty

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Size: 12.44” x 8.81” x 1.3”. 4.7 lbs

Display: 13.3" TFT AveraBrite widescreen LCD display (1280 x 800). Intel GMA 900 Chipset Integrated Graphics with 96 megs shared video memory. Can drive an external monitor and has a standard VGA port.

Sound: Built-in speaker; 3.5mm stereo headphone jack and 3.5mm microphone jack. Realtek AC ’97 Audio Controller.

Processor: Centrino technology, Intel 915 GME Express Chipset. Pentium M 730 Processor running at 1.6 GHz. 2 megs level 2 cache (On-Die).

Standard RAM: 512 megs, expandable to 2 gigs. Has two DD SODIMM slots.

Drives: 80 GB hard drive, 100MB/s Ultra DMA Transfer Rate. Integrated DVD RW +/- drive, 8X DVD Read, 24X CD read and write, 8x DVD+ write, 4x DVD- write, 2x DVD - RW, 4x DVD +RW.

Ports: 1 PCMCIA slot (supports type I & II as well as CardBus), 1 Firewire (IEE 1394) 4 pin non-powered 400 Mpbs, 3 USB 2.0 ports, RJ45 Ethernet 10/100, RJ11 modem jack, VGA , audio in and out. 1 card reader slot for SD/MMC/Memory Stick/Memory Stick Pro cards.

Modem: Integrated 56K v.92 soft modem.

Ethernet: Integrated Realtek RTL8139 10/100 wired Ethernet. Built-in Intel PRO/ Wireless 2200BG WiFi (802.11b/g) wireless.

Battery: 2000mAh Smart Li-Ion battery. 6 cell, 11.1 volts.

Software: Windows XP Home Edition.


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