At a Glance
Averatec 2260-EY1 Notebook
USB ports aplenty, a four-in-one card slot, and integrated DVD burner can't offset a poor keyboard and lack of upgradeability
The AV2260-EH1 model of the Averatec 2200 Series has all the earmarks of a good budget ultraportable: a $950 price (as of 6/26/2006), 3-hour battery life, a pleasing 12.1-inch wide screen, and a 4.2-pound weight. As appealing as this package was, the 2200's cheap-feeling keyboard and non-upgradable design turned me off--in spite of its ultralow cost.
The AV2260-EH1 has a sleek, black lid and bottom, which contrast nicely with the silver upper casing. The unit has a dual-layer DVD drive, a four-in-one media card reader, a FireWire port, and a Wi-Fi switch--all good features for the price. Its three USB ports are located on the right side of the case for quick access.
I didn't like the keyboard, however: The keys offer almost no travel, and they have a plastic, chiclet feel. Paging up and down requires an annoying combination of keystrokes.
The unit offers reasonable performance: With its 1.8-GHz Turion 64 MT-32 processor and 512MB of RAM, it earned a WorldBench 5 score of 70. That score should be fast enough for most productivity applications and light multimedia. (A Compaq Presario 2000 with the same chip but twice the memory scored a 74.)
Some users might not care that the AV2260-EH1's memory and 80GB hard drive aren't user- upgradable; after all, a $950 notebook is cheap enough for most people to discard after a few years without feeling too guilty. But you should still have the choice: Just about every other major vendor--including HP, Dell, and Gateway--sells user-upgradable notebooks in this or a similar price range.
A final gripe: The Acrobat user manual is a pain to use. With no index and an unlinked table of contents, you're left to page through the entire document or launch a separate search pane to find information.
Have less than $1000 to spend on a notebook? Check out Dell's Inspiron line or HP's Pavilion series. These notebooks weigh a bit more, but they also deliver a lot more features and power for the price.