The Advent 4213, the company's second bite at the netbook cherry, has real potential. It packs HSDPA access, a 10-inch screen and offers a decent amount of storage space. But does this netbook, priced at around £330, do enough to get an edge over its rivals or is it just jumping on the bandwagon? Let's find out.
If you're an eagle-eyed tech-head wondering why the 4213 looks so similar to the ECS G10IL1, it's because they're virtually identical. Advent has licensed the chassis from Taiwanese company ECS, in much the same way as it licensed the MSI Wind's chassis for use on the Advent 4211.
That's not a bad thing, really. The 4213 is a relatively attractive, if ultimately unremarkable-looking, netbook, weighing 1.4kg and measuring 260mm by 28mm by 178mm. It has an inherent cuteness about it and the glossy black lid will appeal to lovers of shiny things (that's most of you). Just be aware that rough treatment will result in permanent smudges.
The chassis is relatively wide, so we had high hopes that the 4213 would have a large, easy-to-use keyboard. Unfortunately, the manufacturers have left lots of space on either side, and above and below, what is a relatively small keyboard. The keys are cramped tightly together and each key is an odd shape -- slightly wider and shorter than you'd expect on a laptop. Fat-fingered users should expect one or two typographical errors in the early stages of use, but it's possible to touch type at a good speed once you're accustomed to the layout.
The 4213's mouse trackpad is also noteworthy. It's a single-button affair but the seesaw design allows left or right clicks depending on which side you press. More interestingly, the button contains four LED status lights indicating low battery or charging status, hard-drive activity, whether the netbook has power, and whether the Wi-Fi is activated.
On the right side, you get an Ethernet port, two USB ports, and mic and headphone ports. The left side is home to a VGA video output port, an additional USB port and a memory-card reader nestling below an exhaust vent -- all standard netbook fare.
The 4213 is a netbook at heart, so, internally, it has much in common with the vast majority of its sub-sized brethren. A 1.6GHz Intel Atom N270 CPU joins 1GB of RAM (upgradeable to 2GB via the single DIMM slot) moistly buttered across the Intel GMA 945 chipset.
Storage comes courtesy of a 160GB mechanical hard drive. This is an ample amount of storage, and should be enough to stash a considerable library of movies, music and pictures. By our calculations, the 4213 should be able to hold around 230 standard-definition movies, 41,000 MP3 files, or a paltry five million JPEG files. One thing to be aware of, however, is that, while mechanical hard drives give you more storage, they're slightly more prone to accidental damage than their solid-state counterparts. Bottom line: try not to drop the 4213.
Arguably, our favourite feature of the 4213 is the machine's strong wireless capabilities. It packs 802.11b/g Wi-Fi but, better still, it includes integrated 3G access. Insert your 3G SIM card into the SIM bay below the battery and you'll have access to the Internet via your cellular network, which means you can truly browse YouTube -- and perhaps access your work email -- on the move.
Using the laptop on the move isn't very difficult. While many netbooks utilise a glossy screen in order to boost the perceived contrast ratio of the display, the 10-inch, 1,024x600-pixel screen on the 4213 has a matte coating, so it's not too reflective when used in direct sunlight or in rooms with diffuse lighting.