With a bargain-bin price of $649, the Averatec 3360 is nothing fancy: its silver plastic case and standard-aspect display won't turn any heads, and its previous-generation components and mediocre performance won't have any user jumping for joy. But it does have a few nice perks we're not used to seeing in this price range, including a built-in DVD burner. If you just want an incredibly cheap laptop to surf the Web and spit out some e-mail while on the road, the Averatec 3360 will get the job done. If you want to use your laptop for anything more than basic computing, buy a slightly more expensive system with a dual-core processor, such as the Lenovo 3000 V100.
Compact and rather lightweight, the Averatec 3360 will fit neatly into any laptop bag. Measuring 10.9 inches wide, 9.6 inches deep, and 1 inch thick, it's only a bit larger than the Lenovo ThinkPad X60s and noticeably smaller than the wide-screen Toshiba Satellite U205. Though the Averatec 3360's 4.3-pound weight makes it too heavy to be a true ultraportable--it's a true thin-and-light--we could easily imagine carrying it around occasionally. With its AC adapter, the laptop weighs just more than 5 pounds.
Part of the laptop's compact size can be attributed to its standard-aspect display; while most competing models have gone wide screen, the Averatec 3360 includes a 12.1-inch XGA display. With a nonreflective matte finish, the Averatec's screen also bucks the glossy-screen trend. The result is a display that has enough room for basic work (provided you keep only one window open at a time) but can feel cramped with extended use. We were quite pleased, however, with the display's color saturation when viewing photos and movies.
As with many laptops of its size, the keyboard and touch pad on the Averatec 3360 are a bit too small for comfort during extended use; we recommend keeping an external keyboard and mouse on hand for times when you're at your desk. The touch pad's horizontal and vertical scroll zones are handy for Web surfing and navigating large documents. Above the keyboard sits a lone Wi-Fi on/off button, but the system lacks the application-launch buttons and media controls found on other more expensive laptops. The only other features on the keyboard deck are two speakers in the wrist rest. Though their max volume isn't very loud, we were pleasantly surprised by the quality of sound--these are not typical tin-can laptop speakers. Volume is controlled by a volume wheel along the laptop's front edge.
Given its small size and low price, the Averatec 3360 includes the bare minimum of ports and jacks. The laptop's three USB 2.0 ports are located in a single row along the right side of the case, which makes it difficult to use all three at the same time. Additional connections include VGA, four-pin FireWire, modem and Ethernet ports, plus headphone and microphone jacks. In a nice touch, Averatec adds a 3-in-1 flash card reader that recognizes MultiMediaCard, Secure Digital, and Memory Stick formats as well as a built-in double-layer DVD burner, none of which are common among laptops in this price range.
And what a low price it is: our Averatec 3360 cost $649. As might be expected, the laptop's case is stocked with some previous-generation components: a 1.6GHz Intel Pentium M 725 processor; 512MB of superslow 333MHz RAM; and a midrange 5,400rpm, 80GB hard drive. On CNET Labs' Photoshop and iTunes tests, the Averatec posted mediocre scores. It bested a similarly priced HP Compaq Presario V5000 (with an even older, slower Intel Celeron processor), but suffered greatly in comparison to more expensive laptops built on dual-core platforms. Its mobile performance was likewise unimpressive but should prove adequate for extremely basic use--checking e-mail, surfing the Web, and typing documents. If you want to do anything more, consider shelling out closer to $1,000 for a dual-core system, such as the Lenovo 3000 V100. The key performance perk of the Averatec 3360 is its battery, which lasted a lengthy 3 hours, 52 minutes in our battery-drain tests.
Averatec backs the 3360 with a standard one-year warranty with mail-in service, but the battery is covered for a paltry six months. Toll-free telephone support is available 24/7 throughout the warranty period. The support Web site offers driver and user-manual downloads for the system, but as of this writing, there are no FAQs related to the 3300 series on the site.
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
|iTunes 184.108.40.206 AAC to MP3 conversion (seconds)||Photoshop CS2 performance (seconds)|