The thin-and-light Averatec 3715 combines a conveniently compact case and a low $949 price. Its slow mobile performance and abbreviated battery life mean heavy multitaskers, power users, and road warriors should consider the faster, longer-lived (and more expensive) Sony VAIO VGN-S470P. Average home and business users, however, will find that the Averatec 3715 satisfies their computing needs at a budget price.
Weighing 4.1 pounds and measuring 10.8 inches wide, 8.8 inches deep, and 1.3 inches thick, the white-and-silver Averatec 3715 is among the more demure thin-and-lights we've seen. The Dell Inspiron 700m, which starts at $1,199, weighs about the same, while the VAIO VGN-S470P, starting at $1,499, is a few ounces heavier. The Averatec 3715's petite, two-prong power adapter adds only 0.74 pound to your travel load.
The system's keyboard is wide enough for extended typing sessions, though Averatec should trash one of the two Windows keys to give the cramped arrow buttons more breathing room. We like the full-size mouse buttons and the touch pad, which has handy guidelines along its right and bottom edges for vertical and horizontal scrolling. There's also a useful on/off switch for the integrated wireless radio and a button that lets you throttle down the CPU's speed to conserve battery life. The system never got more than comfortably lukewarm, likely due to the internal fan, which spun almost constantly; thankfully, it's not very loud.
By today's thin-and-light standards, the Averatec 3715's smallish 12.1-inch display, with its low 1,024x768 (XGA) native resolution is unimpressive--more expensive thin-and-lights often have higher-resolution wide-screen displays--yet it's sufficient for doing work on the road. The two speakers, placed underneath the laptop, emit typically mediocre sound.
For a thin-and-light, the Averatec 3715 offers a good selection of ports, jacks, and slots. A four-pin FireWire port, a Type II PC Card slot, a 4-in-1 flash-memory card slot, a 56K modem jack, and an Ethernet jack line the left edge alongside the system's built-in DVD burner. The opposite edge includes a VGA port and three USB 2.0 ports, at least one of which should have been placed on another edge for more flexibility. Finally, headphone and microphone jacks sit on the front edge.
The Averatec 3715 ships with the Windows XP Home operating system, plus a handful of CyberLink multimedia apps for burning and viewing discs. As you'd expect from such an economical system, the Averatec 3715 lacks a productivity suite.
A thousand bucks won't buy a bunch of top-notch laptop components, so it makes sense that the Averatec 3715 carries a low-budget AMD Sempron 3000+ processor, 512MB of slow 333MHz memory, and an integrated VIA S3G chipset that borrows 32MB of main memory to use as VRAM. Even so, Averatec throws in a single-layer DVD burner, 802.11b/g wireless, and a big (albeit slow) 80GB, 4,200rpm hard drive. (An even less expensive model with some lower-end parts is available exclusively from retailer Staples; see our series review for details.)