Advent’s latest notebook, the slim-line, ultraportable Verona, is a bit of a curate’s egg. While it has styling which catches the eye, a largish screen and an admirably low price tag, the use of a single core ULV (Ultra Low Voltage) low powered processor gives it little more power than a netbook. Unfortunately all the good work done by having a power-saving processor is undone by the pitifully low capacity 3-cell battery.
Unlike a great many budget notebooks on offer which give away their low price tag at a glance, the Verona’s rounded design catches the eye and it’s commendably thin: just 32.5mm at its thickest point. It comes in a choice of three colours; red, black or the more expensive silver version (our review model). The silver version comes with dark grey patterns of swirls on the glossy lid, a theme that’s carried through onto the wrist pad, all of which is set off by the black chassis. The slimline design and the use of plastics in its construction mean you can carry the 1.76kg Verona around all day without too much bother.
The Verona uses an Intel Celeron ULV 743 processor, an ultra low voltage, power saving processor which runs at just 1.2GHz. Backing it up is 3GB of DDR2 memory, all of which allows the pre-installed Windows 7 Home Premium to run smoothly and let you do everyday office tasks without too many problems.
However, open too many applications or try to watch HD video and the single cored processor and integrated Intel GMA4500MHD graphics soon show their limitations. If you want a tad more oomph then there is the Verona P which uses Intel’s SU2700 1.3GHz processor, but has a bigger price tag (£399).
The screen is good: 13.3-inch with a native resolution of 1,366 by 768 pixels and good bright, colours, with sharp text thanks to its highly glossed finish. The downside of the finish, as always with a high gloss coating, is that it does reflect office lighting badly and using it outdoors on a bright day may cause one or two problems as well.
For storage there is a 250GB hard disk and an SD card reader, and there are also three USB ports. To connect to the outside world you get wired Ethernet and 802.11g WiFi.
The keyboard is good, with large, flat keys that feel firm when you type. There have been reports of keyboards with alarming amounts of flex, and although our sample didn’t suffer too much in this respect, it’s a point to bear in mind and something to look out for if you are trying the Advent out in-store.
Under the keyboard sits a responsive trackpad. The single-rocker mouse button under it some may find a little small and stiff, but it’s something you can get used to.
So what’s the battery life like? Well this is one area in which the Verona falls down badly, as all the good power saving features of the CPU have been undone by the fitting of a miserly 2,200mAh, 3-cell battery. From a design point of view you may understand it as it allows the Verona to be slim and portable, but from a user’s point of view it’s irritating to say the least.
Most people would put up with the extra weight and bulk that having a 6-cell battery fitted would entail, because of the extra battery life, and boy do you need the extra battery life. With the screen at half brightness and the WiFi turned off, the battery lasted for just under two hours watching a movie and just over two and a half hours in everyday use. It’s a crying shame, not to mention unbelievable that a larger battery isn’t even offered as an option.