- Review Price: £600.00
Advent might not be the first brand you think of when you’re looking to buy a laptop, but since Advent represents the “in-house” brand for the Dixons group, its products are readily available on every UK high street. The 7056 is quite a power house considering its very low price, but this goes to show that notebooks are becoming more powerful and more affordable all the time – even when bought on the high street.
The Advent 7056 is based on a Mobile Pentium 4 processor which ticks over at a reasonable 3.2GHz, with a 533MHz bus. Add to this 512MB of memory and you have a specification that can challenge many desktop PCs. The only downside is that the memory is made up of two 256MB modules taking up both the available memory slots. This means that if you do want to upgrade at some point down the line, you’ll have to discard at least one of the existing modules.
Storage space is also well taken care of, at least for a laptop in this price bracket – the 60GB drive isn’t the most capacious available, but it’s pretty generous in an entry level machine. Unfortunately, this is a standard 4,200rpm drive, so it won’t be as fast as some of the newer 5,400 or 7,200rpm hard drives. Amazingly you also get a DVD writer, albeit a slow one. It can write to DVD+R media at 4x, DVD+RW media at 2.4x, while DVD-R media is burned at 2x and writing to DVD-RW is limited to 1x. It will burn CD-R discs at 16x and CD-RW media at 10x – again not super-fast but squeezing a DVD writer into the 7056 at all is quite an achievment.
The built in 3-in-1 memory card reader accepts SD, MMC and Memory Stick. Add to this a separate slot for Compact Flash Type I/II cards and a Type II PC Card slot and you have a pretty impressive complement of expansion options.
There’s a wide range of ports on offer, with a USB 2.0 and a four-pin FireWire port on the left hand side. The back is host to the remaining ports which include a further three USB 2.0 ports, a serial port, a PS/2 connector, a D-SUB port, S-Video out, an Ethernet port, a modem socket and three audio connectors. The audio ports can be configured to support 5.1-channel output. The line out also doubles up as optical S/PDIF output. Finally there is an IrDA window hidden on the right hand side next to the Kensington lock point.
The 15in display is not the most impressive I’ve seen on a laptop and by current standards the 1,024 x 768 resolution is quite low. The screen is powered by an nVidia GeForce Go FX5350 with 64MB of memory. You’ll be able to play some older games with this chipset, but don’t expect to be able to play Doom 3 or Half-Life 2 on the 7056 as it doesn’t have the grunt.
The integrated network controller is a standard 10/100Mbit solution and the modem is 56k V.90 compatible. Not so apparent is the integrated 802.11b/g wireless network adaptor. The antenna can be enabled or disabled by pressing one of the quick access buttons just above the keyboard. The integrated WiFi support is another excellent inclusion at this price point.
Two of the remaining quick access buttons will launch your email client and web browser, while a third one allows for easy screen resolution changes. The fourth and final button switches between the D-SUB and the S-Video outputs.
The keyboard rattles and bounces too much for my liking, but the keys have good spacing and the layout is generally intuitive. The touchpad works well, although it is quite small. There’s also a four-way scroll pad between the two selector buttons below the touchpad. If you don’t like using a touchpad you’ll be glad to know that the 7056 ships with a cordless mouse – this is a great little inclusion, and although the mouse is small, it’s still far preferable to using a touchpad for extended periods.
At 3.5kg the 7056 is not light, but as a desktop replacement model, I didn’t expect it to be a featherweight. The benchmark numbers are not overly impressive, but the 3.2GHz processor does provide some raw power which shows up in both the SYSMark 2002 and PCMark 2004 scores. Battery life isn’t out of this world, but two hours and 34 minutes will at least let you use it on the road for part of your day.
The 3D benchmarks highlighted the average performance of the graphics chipset. This is definitely not a laptop for gamers, but at least it does have a dedicated graphics chipset which is always an advantage over integrated graphics.
As far as software is concerned the 7056 comes with a copy of Microsoft Works 7.0 which is a pretty basic office package, but still better than what you get with a lot of other notebooks.
But where the Advent 7056 really scores high is price – at only £599.97 this machine is an absolute bargain. You would be hard pushed to find a similarly priced laptop with the same specification elsewhere. Advent has never been an expensive brand but this is breaking new ground. I’ve never considered Dixons to be the place to find a PC bargain, but I guess there’s an exception to every rule.
The Advent 7056 isn’t the most powerful or feature packed notebook around, but it does represent impressive value for money. If you’re making the change from a desktop PC to a notebook and have a tight budget, Advent has made the transition a little easier
Score in detail
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