/> ED I T O R S C H O I C E IN N O V A T IO N A W A R D
X

CNET editors pick the products and services we write about. When you buy through our links, we may get a commission.

Averatec Voya 6494 review: Averatec Voya 6494

matt-headshot-3

Not to be confused with Averatec's GPS units of the same name, this Voya is a laptop and of the semirugged variety. With its rubber bumpers, the Averatec Voya 6494 bears a slight resemblance to Honda's original Element. Despite its clunky look, the Voya 6494 is relatively trim for a ruggedized 15-inch laptop. And when opened, it presents a surprisingly slick yet corporate look, with a silver-and-black screen bezel, and black keyboard and keyboard tray. It serves up security features that will certainly appeal to business users, including Smart Card and SIM card slots. In addition to the aforementioned rubber bumpers that protect each of its corners, this semirugged laptop also features a rubber mounting system to protect the display, a magnesium alloy outer shell, a spill-resistant keyboard and touch pad, and a shock-mounted hard drive. You'll pay a premium compared with standard 15-inch laptops, but when viewed against its rugged competition, it's a deal at $1,599. A business traveler and anyone who regularly engages in abusive relationships with laptops should give the Averatec Voya 6494 a look.

7.7

Averatec Voya 6494

The Good

Magnesium alloy case feels rock solid; light price and lightweight compared with the ruggedized competition; Smart Card and SIM card slots; well-rounded configuration delivers ample performance.

The Bad

Not configurable; Draft N Wi-Fi is absent; online support is more miss than hit for this model.

The Bottom Line

As perhaps the most affordable ruggedized laptop, the Averatec Voya 6494 is a tempting choice, even if you don't work in the field under harsh conditions.

The added protection built into the chassis means you'll need to carry around an extra half-pound of weight. Midsize 15-inch laptops typically weigh just north of the 6-pound mark, and the Averatec Voya 6494 clocks in at 6.8 pounds. Panasonic's 15-inch Toughbook CF-52 and Dell's 14-inch Latitude D620 ATG, however, both top the 7 pound mark, at 7.6 and 7.1 pounds, respectively.

The Voya 6494 also stacks up well when you look at its price against those of Dell's and Panasonic's semirugged laptops. Dell's new Latitude D630 ATG starts at $2,049 for a configuration that features components inferior to the Voya's. Likewise, the Toughbook CF-52 starts at $1,766, and when you add upgrades to approach the Voya's components, the price jumps to nearly $3,000. Clearly, the Voya 6494 is a bargain among semirugged laptops.

If you are kindler and gentler to your laptop, however, you can find a standard 15-inch laptop for less. For instance, a trip to Dell's site reveals the Dell XPS M1530, that, when configured to match the Voya 6494, costs $1,224 with a GeForce 8400 graphics card. Fujitsu's 15-inch LifeBook A6120 that we reviewed earlier this year costs only $1,369 and supplies a Penryn Core 2 Duo chip, more memory, and a larger hard drive than the Voya 6494's.

Price as reviewed / starting price $1,599
Processor 2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7500
Memory 2GB, 667MHz DDR2
Hard drive 250GB 5,400rpm
Chipset Intel GM965 Express
Graphics Intel GMA X3100 (integrated)
Operating system Windows Vista Premium
Dimensions (WDH) 14.6 x 10.9 x 1.6 inches
Screen size (diagonal) 15.4 inches
System weight / Weight with AC adapter 6.8 / 7.6 pounds
Category Midsize

Unlike most laptops that come housed in a plastic chassis, the Voya 6494 is outfitted with a magnesium alloy case. You'll feel none of the flex you get with a plastic shell, particularly in the wrist rest below the keyboard and the lid behind the display. This is a laptop that feels very solid. The hard drive is shock-mounted to help it withstand bumps and drops, but interestingly, the LCD is also protected to absorb shock and vibration. Instead of being hard-mounted to the lid, the display is suspended somewhat in a rubber mounting system.

Typical of a ruggedized laptop, the Voya 6494 features a spill-resistant keyboard. We poured about 6 ounces of water on it, and the Voya kept on ticking, but unlike the Toughbook W7, it's not a clever spill-through design that funnels the water through the laptop and out a hole in the bottom. Instead, we had to tip the Voya over to pour out the spilt water resting below the keyboard. Still, it did the job of keeping the water away from the internal components. The touch pad and mouse buttons are covered with a protective rubber coating, but the touch pad has a good feel--not too sticky or too slick--and the mouse buttons provide good tactile feedback and are quiet when depressed. Also, the touch pad features the always appreciated vertical scroll zone along its right side for scrolling through Web pages, long Word docs, and sprawling Excel sheets. The keyboard itself is comfortable, with good key travel and no annoyingly shortened keys.

Since it's built for business, you won't find any media control or shortcut keys about the keyboard. There's the power button and a large Wi-Fi on/off button. Business users will appreciate two features not typically found on a laptop: a Smart Card slot and a SIM card slot. An 802.11a/b/g Wi-Fi is on board, though we don't think it's unreasonable to expect a Draft N antenna by now.

A removable rubber cover protects the modem and Ethernet jacks, but no such protection is provided for any other ports. Those in extreme climates or job sites will need to clear dust and dirt out of the USB and FireWire ports and the media card reader. In a blast from the past, the Voya 6494 also features a serial port.

  Averatec Voya 6494 Average for midsize category
Video VGA VGA-out, S-Video
Audio Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks
Data Three USB 2.0, mini-FireWire, 4-in-1 memory card reader, serial port Four USB 2.0, mini-FireWire, multiformat memory card reader
Expansion ExpressCard, Smart Card, and SIM card slots PC Card slot
Networking Modem, Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11 a/b/g Wi-Fi Modem, Ethernet, 802.11 a/b/g Wi-Fi, optional Bluetooth
Optical drive DVD burner DVD burner

The Averatec Voya 6494 is a fixed configuration and features a high-end chip from Intel's last-generation (Merom) Core 2 Duo line in the 2.2GHz T7500. There's the standard 2GB of RAM but a roomy 250GB hard drive. You won't find these components for a better price on another rugged laptop.

In labs testing, the Voya 6494 more than held its own. It kept pace with the Penryn-based Fujitsu LifeBook A6120 on CNET Labs' multimedia test, and it did surprisingly well on our Photoshop test, outpacing its midsize competition by a healthy margin. Despite being based on Intel's previous-generation platform, the Voya 6494 should meet the needs of the vast majority of home and business users.

Multimedia multitasking test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Adobe Photoshop CS3 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

DVD battery-drain test
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

The Voya 6494 ran for one minute shy of two hours on our demanding DVD battery-drain test, which is an average score on this test. Spinning a DVD is particularly taxing on a battery, however, so you can expect slightly longer life from casual Web surfing and office use.

Averatec backs the Voya 6494 with a one-year parts-and-labor warranty. Toll-free phone support is open for your calls from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET on weekdays. Online support is more miss than hit for the Voya 6494. Though you can find FAQ pages, driver downloads, and user manuals, the site didn't return any results when we searched for the Voya 6494 (or the 6400 series).

Find out more about how we test laptops.

System configurations:

Averatec Voya 6494
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1; 2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7500; 2048MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 128MB (shared) Mobile Intel 965GM Express; 250GB Toshiba 5,400rpm

Fujitsu LifeBook A6120
Windows Vista Home Premium; 2.1GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T8100; 3072MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 358MB (shared) Intel Mobile 965GM Express; 300GB Hitachi 4,200rpm

Lenovo IdeaPad Y510
Windows Vista Home Premium Edition; 1.66GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5450; 2048MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 128MB (shared) Mobile Intel 965GM Express; 250GB Hitachi 5,400rpm

Panasonic Toughbook CF-52
Windows Windows XP Professional SP2; 2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300; 1,024MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 512MB ATI Mobility Radeon X2300; 120GB Fujitsu 5,400rpm

Toshiba Satellite A305D-S6835
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1; 2.2GHz AMD Turion 64 X2 Mobile TL-64; 3072MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 128MB (shared) ATI Xpress 1250; 320GB Toshiba 5,400rpm.

7.7

Averatec Voya 6494

Score Breakdown

Design 9Features 9Performance 7Battery 5Support 5