Averatec 6200

Averatec 6200

Averatec_Laptop copy.jpgWe think of it as a big-ass DVD player

Month Reviewed: December 2004
Verdict: 7
URL: www.averatec.com

We’ve never been impressed by low-cost notebooks, which tend to sacrifice so many features they feel like a car without a spare tire or rear window defroster. Thankfully, the 6200 isn’t one of these, sporting an interesting blend of features that make it a noteworthy portable.

The most compelling feature is that you can play up to 4.5 hours of DVD movies on a single battery charge. Averatec accomplishes this—without using two batteries, we’ll add—by taking advantage of what has become a plethora of low-cost MPEG2 decoding chips made for single-purpose portable DVD players and DVD decks. Because the 6200 uses one of these chips—which handles all DVD, MP3, and audio functions, it can boot into a power-saving pre-OS environment where it can be used to play CDs, DVDs, and MP3 discs instead of forcing you to wait the minute or so it takes for Windows XP to boot.

How much power does it save? Consider this: The zero-point notebook we compared it with needs two batteries to reach the same playback time as the 6200. To aid in DVD viewing, a nifty PC Card-size remote lets you flip through chapters as well as choose subtitles and audio formats. Elegantly, the remote slips into the notebook’s single PC Card slot when not in use.

Unfortunately, this impressive battery life comes at the expense of visual quality. The movies we watched using the built-in decoder chip looked dull and soft when compared with playback in CyberLink’s PowerDVD running in Windows XP on the same laptop. Because the DVD playback mode lacks the ability to tweak image quality, there was little we could do to sharpen the image.

The 6200 is powered by AMD’s Athlon XP-M 2400+, a 1.8GHz Athlon XP using the Barton core with AMD’s PowerNow! technology, which steps the processor speeds down as usage levels drop. While this mobile XP chip can outgun the two-year old 1.7GHz Pentium 4M we use as a zero-point, it gets smoked by modern Pentium M/Centrino-class CPUs. If your mobile work is limited to DVD viewing, light-duty Photoshop work, web browsing, and e-mail, the Athlon XP-M has more than enough pep. For gaming, however, it’s a dud. With its integrated graphics, it was incapable of running our five-year-old Quake III test. Because we couldn’t get the game to run at 1280x1024 resolution—the minimum resolution required for the benchmark—we were unable to obtain any results. Suffice to say, don’t expect to use this laptop to play much beyond Solitaire on this laptop.

Storage is a 4,200rpm, 60GB Hitachi Travelstar 80GN with an 8MB buffer and a Lite-On 24x CD-R combo drive. The model we reviewed didn’t feature a DVD burner but Averatec has since added it as standard equipment. There’s no Bluetooth, but you do get 802.11g, which is backward compatible with 802.11b access points.

We’ll admit, we didn’t expect a whole lot from the Averatec 6200, but overall, it’s a pretty serviceable notebook for the money. If you’re looking for a notebook that will give you long-haul movie viewing and basic computing capabilities, the 6200 is surprisingly satisfying and won’t break your back—or the bank. --Gordon Mah Ung

+Anchor Steam: Incredible DVD playback times and a wide screen for $1,200.

- Lucky Lager: Integrated graphics core and no DVD burner.

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