ADVENT 7078 laptop

We love the Internet because it gives us everything we want. Whether it’s news, reviews, games or shopping it’s all here to be consumed. But there is a world out there that the net savvie must walk down and it’s called the High Street - try it some time, you’ll be amazed at what you can find.

PC World is the biggest computer retailer on the high street and the Advent brand is its own in-house line of desktop and notebook offerings. The 7078 is the first serious ultra-portable notebook the company has released and as such is gathering a lot of interest.

Weighing in at 2.3kg, it’s a trim and neat machine that comes with a 12.1 inch screen in the now commonplace widescreen format. So, it’s ideal for watching DVDs as well as writing the odd document on the go.

To be truly portable, a notebook needs a realistic battery life and with just shy of 4 hours from this system, we were impressed. It means you can get through most of the morning without having to look for a mains socket, which can’t be bad. Add to this a surprisingly strong chassis and the 7078 starts to look like a great proposition.

We were also impressed with the addition of a 1.3 megapixel webcam built into the case above the screen. Unlike most, it can be twisted around to be used as a digital camera, a nice took if you’re sharing a web conference call.

Powered by an Intel 1.6MHz Pentium M 725 processor and fitted with 512MB of memory, the specification is designed to preserve battery life rather than give you impressive performance. While it’s usable, we found the system was a little sluggish at times - especially when running more than one application at a time. Topped off with a 40GB hard drive, which may be generous for an iPod is starting to look a little mean on a notebook.

The main reason for this sluggish behaviour lay in the use of the base technology. There may be a Centrino badge on the case but this doesn’t mean it’s using the latest version. No, what you’ll find at the heart of the Advent is the older 855GM chipset, which means you’ll still get Wi-Fi and a decent battery life but the technology is starting to look a little old.

The chipset is also used as the graphics accelerator, and we use the term “graphics accelerator” loosely here, as you won’t be able to play anything 3D on the notebook. It’s fine for DVD and simple 2D tasks but the graphics engine is only capable of handling DirectX 8 games and no one makes those anymore.

Verdict

PC World told us their machines are on a 10-week upgrade cycle, so you won't find this model in the shops for too long. However, you are likely to find a slightly improved specification at the same price, which makes a trip out to the high street something worth doing, once in a while at least.