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Advent 6441 review: Advent 6441

The 6441 is commendably cheap for a laptop with a Blu-ray drive and a 17-inch screen. But, with a poor-quality keyboard and trackpad, and a relatively slow processor and graphics, it's hard to avoid the feeling that Advent compromised on quality in pursuit of a low price tag

Will Stapley

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3 min read

Once hideously expensive, Blu-ray drives have now come down in price, and, as Advent demonstrates with the 6441, you can pick one up in a laptop for under £500.

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5.5

Advent 6441

The Good

Blu-ray drive; low price.

The Bad

Very poor keyboard and trackpad; no HDMI; slow processor and graphics.

The Bottom Line

What could have been a decent, low-cost, Blu-ray laptop is ruined by a poor-quality keyboard and trackpad. Plus, given its HD credentials, we expected to see an HDMI port. It might be cheap, but that's not enough to save this laptop

The 6441 also comes furnished with a large, 17-inch display and full Qwerty keyboard. But has Advent skimped on quality to achieve the low price?

Design
The glossy lid and its contoured lines certainly make a good first impression -- but it doesn't last long. Open the 6441 up and you're greeted with a plastic chassis that both looks and feels cheap.

The keyboard and numeric keypad have flat keys with very little spacing, which makes typing more difficult than it should be, given the amount of room Advent had to play with. The keys are also of a very poor quality, wobbling when pressed, and we're not sold on the layout -- the delete key is stuck in between the insert and page-up keys, while the function key sits where the left Ctrl key should be. Worse still, it's far too easy, when typing, to bash your thumbs against the ridge next to the space bar.

We were also left unimpressed with the trackpad buttons, which you have to depress with far too much force to activate. The fact that there's no scroll section on the trackpad is nothing less than bewildering.

On the plus side, the 17-inch screen is reasonably bright, but only if you look at it straight on. Despite the glossy coating, colours looked a little washed-out.

There's no FireWire, but you do get a multi-format card reader, 54mm ExpressCard slot and three USB ports. Two of the USB ports are sat on the left, while the third is at the rear and doubles up as an eSATA port -- useful if you want to expand on the 160GB hard drive.

Features
Despite costing under £500, Advent has managed to find room in the budget for a Blu-ray drive. As expected, it's read-only (although it can write DVDs and CDs).


The 6441's keyboard leaves much to be desired

The DVI output at the rear is HDCP-compatible, so you can use it to pump protected HD movies to a TV (assuming it also has an HDCP-compatible DVI port). For some reason, though, Advent opted not to include an HDMI output. There is, however, a digital S/PDIF audio output, so you can divert sound away from the rather tinny built-in speakers to your monster surround-sound system.

Powering the 6441 is an Intel Pentium dual-core T3200 processor running at 2GHz. Compared to Core 2 CPUs, it's a little lethargic and won't be up to much more than basic tasks. A total of 4GB RAM is installed but, as always, the 32-bit Vista Home Premium means you'll only get to use 3GB of this.

Graphics are taken care of by Intel's integrated GMA 4500MHD chip, which will be enough to persuade gamers to look elsewhere.

Performance
Given the relatively slow processor and graphics, it should come as no surprise that the 6441 struggled in both the PCMark05 and 3DMark06 benchmarks, returning scores of 3,926 and 796 respectively. So, while older games at low resolutions will just about be playable, you can cast aside any thoughts of playing modern 3D titles.

Although battery life isn't hugely important with a desktop replacement such as this, we were hoping for more than 48 minutes in Battery Eater's Classic test and just over two hours in the less-demanding Reader's test.

Conclusion
Advent has clearly gone all out to sell a Blu-ray laptop for as little as possible. Although it's commendable that the price tag is under £500, the keyboard and trackpad are woeful. You could always attach an external keyboard and mouse, but that rather defeats the point of a desktop replacement.

Ultimately, you're better off buying a stand-alone Blu-ray player for your TV and opting for the cheaper HP Compaq Presario CQ70-116, which has similar specs but no Blu-ray drive.

Edited by Charles Kloet

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