When people complain that some netbooks cost as much as a laptop, they're talking about laptops like the Advent Roma 1000, which runs on Windows 7. At about £350, it's about as cheap as a brand-new laptop gets on the high street, and it's easy to see how it could be a tempting proposition when sat next to something that's the same price but half the size and half as well specified.
Cheap but tasteful
Inexpensive laptops are seldom much to look at, but the 1000 is slightly more appealing than most. Its 15.6-inch screen means the 1000 is a fair slab of plastic, and it's not particularly light, at 2.9kg, but it's tastefully presented. The all-black case is complemented by a glossy lid with a subtle pattern of concentric circles moulded into the plastic, and the mirrored plastic strip that runs along the front edge of the base masks various status LEDs.
The lid is held shut with a sliding catch. Although stiff, the single hinge allows for plenty of wobble, so you may have problems using the 1000 on a train or plane. The screen has a 1,366x768-pixel resolution, and is as clear and bright as any glossy display we've seen. In other words, no corners have been cut here.
The low-profile keyboard is full-size and, although all the flat keys sit flush against each other, they're wide enough to make typing comfortable. The layout means the cursor keys are squeezed in at the bottom right of the keyboard, though.
The 1000's budget nature is all too apparent when it comes to audio. The sound from the two tiny speakers that sit below the screen is awful for anything other than Windows notifications.
You'd be foolish to expect much in terms of performance for £350. The 1000 uses an Intel Celeron 900 processor clocked at 2.2GHz. This is a single-core chip that doesn't support hyper-threading, which explains its meagre PCMark05 benchmark score of 2,020. This CPU isn't really that much quicker than some netbooks' Intel Atom processors, but it's still capable of keeping Windows 7 running smoothly. The 1000 ships with the 32-bit edition of Windows 7, and 3GB of memory, upgradeable to 4GB.
The low price point also means the 1000 only gets Intel GMA 4500MHD integrated graphics. A 3DMark06 score of 734 indicates that 3D gaming is off the menu, although older titles may just be playable at low detail and resolution settings. The graphics chipset isn't a complete dead loss, though -- it does accelerate high-definition video performance.
Sadly, the one area in which the 1000 is woefully inadequate is battery life, lasting for just 46 minutes in Battery Eater's rigorous Classic test. Its time of 1 hour and 38 minutes in the less punishing Reader's test is better, but not really enough to make this laptop much use away from the mains.
Although cheap, the Advent Roma 1000 still manages to be cheerful enough. While its performance is utterly unimpressive, it's enough for most productivity tasks, as long as you're not too bothered about using battery power. At the time of writing, no other Windows 7 laptop is available for such a low price, but keep an eye on Dell's deals, as it often discounts its laptops.
Edited by Charles Kloet