The Averatec 3250 comes with 3 USB 2.0 ports which are located towards front on the right side of the notebook. Next to the USB ports is the integrated optical drive. All 3250 series notebooks come with a duel DVD (+/-) burner except the H1 model which comes with a DVD+CD-RW drive. Next to the optical drive is the A/C port. On the left side of the Averatec, you will find a PCMCIA card slot that supports type I and II PC cards, a 10/100 Mbit Ethernet port, a 56K modem port, a 15-pin VGA port for external video display and a Kensington lock hole for lsecuring your notebook. Both the 3.5mm headphone jack and the audio out ports are located on the front of the notebook next to the volume control wheel. The Lithium Ion battery pack is located on the back of the Averatec where there are no other ports and only a heat sink vent is found next to the battery. On the bottom of the 3250, there is a battery lock/release button next to the battery silo. Several heat ventilation slots populate the bottom of the notebook. The RAM memory slots are located under a rectangular screwed-on cover. There is no FireWire port on the Averatec.
The Averatec 3250 measures in at 10.9" x 9.6" x 1" and weighs 4.5 lbs. It's slightly heavier than Averatec's previous ultra light model and 1 lb lighter than the Averatec C3500 XP Tablet PC. The machine has the right balance in size to house a standard notebook keyboard, an optical drive and a 12.1" display and manages to weight under 5 pounds.
Horsepower and What's Inside
The Averatec is powered by AMD Mobile Athlon XP-M 2200+ 1.66 GHz processor with PowerNow! 2.0 Technology. This 32-bit mobile processor is designed to take up less space and consume less power than processors for full-size laptops and desktop-replacement notebooks. The Athlon XP-M processor in the 3250 has 480KB total cache and like all AMD mobile processors, the XP-M 2200+ includes AMD PowerNow! technology for longer battery life as well as a micro-PGA package design. PowerNow! Technology dynamically manages the power savings based on CPU demand. The notebook runs a bit hot even with several heat vents and fans running, though not as hot as the C3500 Tablet PC. Playing games will increase the heat dramatically. If you leave it unplugged from power, the notebook runs considerably cooler since the processor steps down to a lower speed to conserve power.
The speed seems to have increased after upgrading to Service Pack 2. Our 3250 came with Windows XP Home Edition Service Pack 1. So if your Averatec doesn't have SP2 installed, make sure that you download and install the upgrade. The notebook is fast running most everyday tasks including accessing web sites, working on documents (including PDF), and playing movies and music.
The graphics adapter used in this notebook is the VIA S3G Unichrome Graphics with 32 megs of shared memory. It offers display controls that allow you to adjust colors, gamma, brightness, contrast, etc. on fly. Playing DVDs using CyberLink PowerDVD bundled with the notebook feels very smooth. Gaming speed is slow, though not many ultra light notebooks have the power to play the latest graphically taxing games. That said, while the Toshiba Portégé M205 (with Nvidia's GeForce Go5200 graphics controller and 32 megs of dedicated DDR memory) gets 30 fps playing Rise of Nations, the Averatec only averages 7 fps with a ceiling of 20 and tanking to 1 fps. So if you are primarily using the notebook for business applications or playing music and video, it will do just fine.
The Averatec 3250 models come with up to 512 megs of DDR SDRAM but isn't expandable to 1 gig. The machine has a single slot for installing standard DDR 333 MHz/PC2700 SO-DIMMs up to 512MB in capacity. The Averatec comes with a 60 or 80 gig hard drive, a built-in 802.11g MiniPCI wireless network adapter, and a VIA Rhine II Fast Ethernet adapter along with a Smart Link 56K modem.
The integrated 802.11g MiniPCI WiFi card works well and has a good range, however when you turn off the notebook completely (as opposed to restart), the WiFi will automatically turn off. You will need to hit the WiFi switch button on the notebook to initiate the WiFi connection. This may conserve power for those users who don't need WiFi, but adds one more step and some additional seconds for those who want to use WiFi when they turn on the notebook. In addition to WiFi, you get O2Micro PCMCIA card slot that supports type I and II PC cards, and three USB 2.0 ports. The only thing missing on the Averatec is FireWire which might be useful for users who use external hard drives, video camcorders and other high end peripherals. It helps that the Averatec comes with a built-in DVD+CD-RW drive or a duel DVD burner. The DVDRW is made by QSI, a company that specializes in slim internal optical drives.Display and Sound
The Averatec 3250 has a 12.1" XGA TFT LCD that's capable of displaying up to 1024 x 768 resolution. The screen is bright and has a good viewing angle. The LCD on the 3250 doesn't seem as contrasty as the C3500 XP Tablet PC screen, but it is very viewable in direct sunlight. Colors are saturated when viewing photos and watching movies. You can adjust brightness, contrast and gamma using the built-in tools provided by VIA S3G Unichrome Graphics. Fingerprints are quite noticeable on the LCD.
The Averatec has VIA's Vinyl AC'97 v2.1 Compliant PCI audio with 3D audio system. The notebook has integrated left and right mini stereo speakers that sound very good and have great volume. If you wish to hook up a pair of external speakers, there is a standard 3.5mm audio out jack for speakers or headphones. The thumb wheel for adjusting volume is very conveniently located next to the microphone jack.
The Averatec 3250 comes with a 4000 mA Lithium-Ion battery with Smart Battery function. The battery capacity is quite high for a notebook this size and it lasts about 3 hours when we use the notebook for viewing and editing documents, web pages and email with WiFi on. If you play DVD, games or use other processor intensive applications, the battery life is reduced dramatically. We tested the battery playing DVDs and games, and got about 1 hour 45 minutes per charge.
The Averatec 3250 series comes with Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition except the PX model which comes with the Pro Edition. Do download Windows XP Service Pack 2, which is free and will improve the performance of your notebook. A full version of Microsoft Works 7.0 is bundled with the notebook. This is a significant value-added item for those who don't need MS Office. The Works suite provides word processing, spreadsheet, database, calendar and more. A very nice bundle indeed! For multimedia, the Averatec includes CyberLink PowerDVD XP 5.0 for playing DVDs and Power2Go, PowerProducer and PowerMedi@Show for burning music, movie and data disks. Norton AntiVirus 2004 is included, as well as Adobe Acrobat Reader 6.0 and QuickTime 6.0. The Averatec comes with Recovery Media. The Averatec also comes with BIOS setup program that allows you to set up power management and other basic settings on the notebook.