Designed for highly mobile students and cost-conscious business travelers, the $1,199 (as of August 2005) Averatec 4200 thin-and-light laptop is priced low and offers plenty of features, including a DVD burner. While the system demonstrated great battery life, if you have your heart set on a machine with screaming performance, you'll be sorely disappointed.
At first glance, the Averatec 4200's white interior looks uncannily like that of an iBook. The lid of the Averatec 4200, however, is a solid shade of navy blue; the company will soon offer buyers their choice of four exterior colors. Measuring 12.5 inches wide, 8.8 inches deep, and 1.3 inches thick, the notebook is a bit smaller than the thin-and-light Gateway M210X. Weighing a manageable 4.7 pounds, the Averatec 4200 isn't as portable as the similarly priced, 3.6-pound . Even so, the Averatec 4200 will slide easily into most bags, and even with its 0.7-pound AC adapter, it won't cause undue shoulder strain.
An unusual size for a thin-and-light, the Averatec 4200's 13.3-inch wide-aspect display features a sharp 1,200x800 native resolution, but it is not as bright as we would like, even at the highest setting. The laptop doesn't have much in the way of multimedia controls: a lone button above the keyboard launches Windows Media Player; it cannot be programmed to open the application of your choice. The keyboard itself is a decent size and has surprisingly deep key travel, though it gives a little too much under heavy finger pressure. The wide touch pad and long, slim corresponding mouse buttons are difficult to control and take a little time to get used to.
As far as connections go, the Averatec 4200 is adequately equipped for a thin-and-light. You'll find VGA, four-pin FireWire, S-Video-out, and three USB 2.0 ports, as well as headphone and microphone jacks. The laptop also includes a Type II PC Card slot and a four-in-one flash memory slot that supports Secure Digital, Memory Stick, Memory Stick Pro, and MultiMediaCard formats. The Averatec 4200 gets online via Ethernet, modem, or 802.11b/g Wi-Fi. Our test unit also included a multiformat DVD burner--a nice touch for such an inexpensive laptop. The system comes preloaded with Windows XP Home Edition, in addition to the mini productivity suite, CyberLink PowerDVD 5.0 for disc playback, and CyberLink Power2Go 4.0 for burning CDs and DVDs.