From the Dixons Stores Group (DSG) that includes PC World and Currys comes a cut-price laptop: the Advent 5511 is a 15in notebook offering the latest Intel Centrino 2 chipset for under £500.
By some counts, Centrino is actually up to its fifth generation, but the Advent 5511 uses a 45nm Penryn CPU under the familiar marketing name, in this case an Intel Core 2Duo P7350 processor running at 2GHz, with GM45 Mobile 4 Express chipset.
Included with the Advent 551 is a set of printed manuals to show you around Windows Vista, albeit with no documentation specific to this laptop. That's a shame, as there's no easy way to find out what unique buttons on the F keys can be expected to do, such as Silent Mode.
As low-cost laptops go the Advent 5511 is relatively well assembled - there's a high-gloss black lid top with concentric grey pinline detailing, silver-painted plastic top plate edge, and a matte black plastic palm rest area. The screen is a typical budget high-gloss type, initially impressive in colour richness but with intrinsic viewing problems in daylight conditions.
The Advent 5511's keyboard uses entirely flat keys, as seen on the latest Apple keyboards but set closer together. Its action is crisp but overall it may take a little getting used to its layout. Extra keys accessed with the Function button include volume, screen brightness, wireless and webcam on/off, and that enigmatic propellor symbol - also known as Silent Mode. Between keyboard and screen sits a small panel with three backlit touch-sensitive keys. These provide shortcuts to DSG's support contractors' website, The Tech Guys, as well as wireless on/off and a shortcut to the default mail app.
Without a dedicated graphics card, the Advent 5511 suffered the usual score of around 5 frames per second (fps) on the FEAR gaming test at benchmark maximum settings. To get a usable framerate, we turned graphics quality to Low, whereby the Advent 5511 acheived an eminently usable 57fps. For unknown reasons the WorldBench 6 test refused to complete, but the Windows Experience Index rated the Advent 5511 as 3.1 overall, brought down by its 3.1 gaming graphics score. Processor, memory and hard disk score were all nudging 5 points here, a respectable score.
As we have been lead to expect from latest Intel chips, battery life as recorded by our Mobile Mark 2007 test, was reasonably good, at 3 hours 8 minutes.
In general specification, the Advent 5511 features all necessary components, plus less typical ones such as eSATA. It is very similar to the Medion Akoya S5610 , with the important distinction that the latter included a separate ATI graphics card rather than Intel’s integrated chipset. In normal office and desktop duties this makes little difference, but if you intend playing any games, look to the more expensive Medion for its graphics capability.