The Averatec 1000 stands out from the ultraportable crowd in several respects. It's one of the least-expensive ultraportables we've seen, yet its performance almost matches that of much costlier models, and it has a wider keyboard and touch pad than many laptops in its category. Unfortunately, the Averatec 1000 is also distinguished by merely average battery life compared to ultraportable powerhouses such as the Sony VAIO VGN-T250/L. Still, the Averatec 1000 offers tremendous value for your money, and with the nearly $800 you'll save, you can easily afford an extra battery.
Measuring 10.5 inches wide, 8 inches deep, and 1.4 inches thick and weighing 3.6 pounds, the maroon-and-white Averatec 1000 is nearly the same size and weight as its direct competitors, the Sony VAIO VGN-T250/L and the Fujitsu LifeBook P7010D. In addition, all three systems include small AC adapters that weigh slightly more than 0.7 pound.
Despite their similar sizes, the Averatec 1000 offers something its rivals don't: a keyboard that's just wide enough to type on for a while without causing your hands to cramp. The Averatec 1000's rectangular touch pad is also bigger than the pads on most ultraportables, featuring handy guides along its right and bottom sides to direct your finger when scrolling. The laptop squeezes a CD-RW/DVD-ROM combo drive inside its tiny case, along with a useful on/off switch to control wireless connectivity--features you can find on the VAIO VGN-T250/L and the LifeBook P7010D, but which are not standard for all ultraportables. The Averatec 1000 has the typical ultraportable characteristics of small mouse buttons below the touch pad and a 10.6-inch screen with a 1,280x800 native resolution. The laptop doesn't offer much in the way of extra buttons, save for a lone button above the keyboard that launches Windows Media Player; we wish you could reprogram that button with the application of your choice.
While it will never match the connections offered by larger laptops, the Averatec 1000's abbreviated list of connectors makes sense for frequent fliers who require only the bare minimum. The list includes four-pin FireWire, 56Kbps modem, and Ethernet jacks hidden behind a flimsy port cover; headphone and microphone jacks; a VGA port; and two side-by-side USB 2.0 ports. It also features one Type II PC Card slot, as well as a 4-in-1 slot that accepts SD, Memory Stick, Memory Stick Pro, and MultiMediaCard flash memory cards. Windows XP Home is the preloaded operating system on every Averatec 1000; the system also ships with the pared-down productivity suite and CyberLink PowerDVD 5.0 for help with disc playback.
The Averatec 1000 has no configuration flexibility whatsoever: it currently ships with just one predetermined list of parts. You can buy the system through in-store or online retail outlets for an unbelievably inexpensive $1,379 (as of June 2005). The laptop carries an ultra-low-voltage, 1.1GHz Intel Pentium M processor; a standard 512MB of average-speed 333MHz memory; a cost-saving Intel 855GME graphics subsystem that borrows up to 64MB of video RAM from main memory; a big, 80GB hard drive rotating at a rapid 5,400rpm; and a standard Intel Pro Wireless 802.11b/g card. The Sony VAIO VGN-T250/L and the Fujitsu LifeBook P7010D both cost almost $800 more for nearly the same parts with a few notable exceptions, such as the VAIO VGN-T250/L's DVD burner and the LifeBook P7010D's fingerprint reader.
In CNET Labs' mobile benchmarks, the Averatec 1000 had little problem keeping up with the big boys. The laptop finished our tests three inconsequential points behind the LifeBook P7010D, and even though it ran 7 percent behind the VAIO VGN-T250/L, the latter also carried a faster 1.2GHz Pentium M processor. The biggest difference between the systems was battery life: while the Averatec 1000 lasted for a long 4 hours, 42 minutes in our battery-drain tests, the LifeBook P7010D held on 15 minutes longer, and the VAIO VGN-T250/L endured for an incredible 6 hours, 25 minutes.
You'd think that an ultracheap laptop such as the Averatec 1000 would come with an extremely short warranty, but the system includes the same one-year warranty with mail-in service as most consumer laptops. You can extend the warranty only through the retailer who sells you the laptop, however, rather than through Averatec itself. The company provides toll-free, 24/7 phone support for a typical one year. At press time, the Averatec support Web site lacked any FAQs or downloads for the 1000; neither does the site have a helpful user forum or the ability to chat in real time with a tech support rep.