The latest addition to Averatec's 2300 series of notebooks and its first Vista-based offering, the 2371 packs dual-core processing power and a robust assortment of components into an ultraportable form factor--all for less than $1,000. Just don't stray too far from an outlet; this system's battery life is short, even for a Vista machine.
Clad in an attractive dark chocolate-brown chassis, the 2371 is thin and light enough for frequent travel (1.3 inches and 4.1 pounds). The 12.1-inch widescreen display has a 1280 x 800-pixel resolution and is treated with the AveraBrite coating, which helps produce a brighter picture and delivers good viewing angles. The glossy screen has a tendency to reflect bright ambient light, though (view photo gallery).
You'll find three USB ports and a VGA output on the right side of the unit and a FireWire port and optical drive on the left. Modem and Ethernet ports are located at the rear of the system, and the 4-in-1 card reader and headphone and microphone jacks reside along the front bezel.
The keyboard layout is slightly crowded along the lower right side, but the keys were responsive. The wide-aspect touchpad provided smooth fingertip cursor control and has well-marked vertical and horizontal scrolling zones. The mouse buttons are small but serviceable.
Under the hood is a dual-core AMD Turion 64 X2 TL-52 processor running at 1.6 GHz and with 1GB of DDR2 memory, which you can upgrade to 2GB. The 2371 turned in a PCMark05 score of 2,708, which is about average for this type of configuration. You won't get blazing performance, but this notebook will run most home and business applications with relative ease. The system handled basic multitasking (burning a DVD while playing a lengthy video stream) without a hiccup. However, if you're into gaming or require lots of 3D graphics horsepower, look elsewhere; the Nvidia GeForce Go 6100 graphics subsystem scored a paltry 930 on our 3DMark03 tests.
Results from our DVD battery rundown test were also disappointing. While Vista is known to be a battery hog, the system managed only 1 hour and 39 minutes of runtime while playing Finding Nemo. You might get up to three hours of regular work time on this system--that's at least an hour short of what we expect from an ultraportable notebook. We strongly recommend that you purchase an extended-life battery ($149) for those long plane rides or for sitting through multiple classes in a row. On the plus side, wireless throughput was good, averaging around 13.6 Mbps at distances of 15 and 50 feet.
The 2371 comes with a 120GB SATA hard drive spinning at 5,400 rpm, which provides plenty of data storage, and the dual-layer, multiformat DVD drive gives you the flexibility to archive files and burn multimedia projects to a variety of recordable media formats.
Bundled software is sparse; in addition to Windows Vista Home Premium, the 2371 comes with the CyberLink DVD Suite of DVD/CD burning apps and a trial version of Norton AntiVirus software. A standard one-year warranty covers parts and labor, but the battery is covered for only six months. Toll-free telephone support is available around the clock.
If you can live with the short battery life or don't mind springing for the extended-life battery, the Averatec 2371 is a good choice. And at around four pounds and $900, it makes a pretty handy travel companion for road warriors and students on a budget.
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