Posted August 12, 2003 by Lisa Gade,
Averatec makes full-featured ultra-portable notebook
computers at very reasonable prices. Formerly known as Sotec, the
company changed their name to Averatec in April 2003, coinciding
with the launch of their latest generation of thin and light notebooks.
The 3150 series models weight in at only 4.3
lbs, yet offer full-sized notebook features such as a reasonably
speedy AMD Mobile Althon XP1600+ processor, integrated DVD+CDRW
drive, an XGA display, an internal modem and 10/100 Ethernet. The
3150P models also include 802.11b WiFi, while the 3150H does not
have WiFi built-in. The 3150H comes with Windows XP Home Edition,
while the 3150P comes with XP Professional. In other respects,
these two models are identical. We received the 3150P for review.
Side view with PCMCIA slot, Ethernet
jack, VGA port and power connector
Ultra-light subnotebooks are not speed demons
compared to their full-sized counterparts. High speed, state of
the art processors don't jibe well with "miniaturization" because
of heat dissipation issues. The cost of high-end processors is
also a concern, since you're already paying extra for that small
size. Despite this, the 3150P offers very impressive tech specs
for its size. The notebook has an AMD Althon XP-M 1600+ processor
with PowerNow!™ and QuantiSpeed™ architecture running
at 1.33 GHz, a 384KB cache (128KB level 1 and 256KB level 2), a
266 MHz system bus, VIA motherboard chipset, 256 megs of DDR RAM
expandable to 640 megs and an ATA 133 30 gig hard drive.
Screen, Sound and Battery Life
The Averatec 3150 models have 12.1" XGA displays
running at 1024 x 768 resolution with 16 million colors. They can also
drive an external display and has a standard 15 pin VGA port on the rear.
They support both external video out and dual display output. The 3150
series has an S3 Pro Savage8 video processor that offers 128 bit 2D and
3D acceleration and uses 32 megs of shared memory. Screen updates and
re-draws in business applications and Photoshop were plenty fast, but
gamers take note that most current intensive 3D games will not run on
a shared memory architecture. The LCD itself is not particularly bright
or razor sharp, but it is definitely usable. For this price, you aren't
going to get a super-bright, ultra sharp display.
For you movie watchers, the Averatec has DVD hardware
assisted decoding, MPEG1 and MPEGII hardware acceleration and comes with
Cyberlink PowerDVD software.
If you want to listen to MP3s, CDs or movies, you'll
be happy to know the Averatec has a stereo headphone/speaker jack. The
built-in stereo speakers are mounted on the wrist rest area. They're
reasonably loud and sound quite good, though built-in notebook speakers
can't approach good headphone quality.
Averatec claims battery life is about 3 hours on max
power saving settings. The battery is a smart Lithium Ion rated at 4,000
MAh, which is good capacity for a unit of this size. We got about 2.5
hours when using the Internet frequently via a WiFi PC Card.
Ports, WiFi and Expandability
The 3150 has all the ports you'll need for most endeavors.
It has three USB 2.0 ports (compatible with USB 2.0 and 1.1 devices),
a standard VGA port, an RJ11 modem port, RJ54 Ethernet port, a mic in
jack and stereo headphone out jack. The Averatec has a single type II
PCMCIA CardBus slot and the 3150P has built-in WiFi 802.11b. You'll get
everything except FireWire on the 3150 line, and the USB 2.0 ports are
a definite plus.
The Averatec has a built-in DVD/CDRW drive that's 8x
for DVD playback, 24x for CD reads, 16x writing CDRs and 10x writing
CDRW media. Not bad for any notebook, especially one that's this small
and light. Base memory on this line is 256 megs, and it's expandable
to 640 megs using DDR RAM. The notebook has a small door on the bottom
that you'll remove to upgrade memory. It has 128 megs soldered to the
motherboard and a 128 meg DIMM in the single RAM slot which you'll replace
if you upgrade memory.
Both the 3150H and 3150P come with internal 10/100
Ethernet and 56k V.92 fax/modems. The 3150P has internal WiFi 802.11b
that uses the very common and reliable Prism chipset. Most Prism-based
internal and card WiFi products get good signals and throughput, but
the 3150P's WiFi wasn't a good performer for us. At distances of 30 feet
from an access point, the unit fell back to 2 Mps from 11, and web pages
loaded as if we were using a dialup 56k modem. Other notebooks and PDAs
in our office haven't had these kinds of performance problems.
3150 series offers a great deal of value for the price. It's rare not
to pay a hefty premium for a thin and light notebook in the 4 lb range.
It's got all the ports you'll need, including three USB 2.0 ports and
integrated Ethernet. The built-in DVD-CDRW gives good performance, and
you won't have to lug around an external CD drive. Performance is more
than adequate for business applications and Internet use. Memory is expandable
to 640 megs, which should satisfy most users. I only wish the integrated
WiFi performance were better on the 3150P. The display isn't top of the
line, but it's very usable and didn't leave our eyes aching at the end
of the day. For the price and unit size, the display is as good as we'd
direct and at retailers such as Office Depot and Best Buy
Size: 10.6" x
9.6" x 0.1.05", weights 4.3 pounds.
Display: 12.1" XGA
TFT LCD display (1024 x 768). S3 ProSavage8 video
controller. Can drive an external monitor. 32 megs
video RAM (shared with system memory, not dedicated
AC97 compliant PCI audio controller with 3D audio
Hardware Assist DVD decoding.
GHz AMD Mobile Althon XP 1600+ processor with PowerNow
and QuantiSpeed architecture. 384 KB cache (128 KB
level 1 and 256 KB level 2). 266 MHz system bs.
RAM: 256 megs, expandable to 640 MB.
1 DIMM expansion slot (comes with 128 meg in
GB ATA 133 hard drive. Internal DVD/CDRW drive. 8x
DVD playback, 24x CD playback,16x DRW write and 10x
PCMCIA slot (supports type I & II as well as
CardBus), three USB. 20 ports, RJ45 Ethernet, RJ11
modem, VGA, audio in and out.
56K V.92 fax modem.
Rhine II Integrated 10/100 baseT, built-in WiFi (802.11b)
wireless on 3150P.
Lithium Ion, 4000 MAh.
XP Home on the 3150H and Windows XP Pro on the 3150P.