Mitac Avenia LP6613

You can visualise the Avenia as either an LCD desk display with a computer built into the stand, or a notebook standing on one edge - what you get is a small computer that's heavier and more powerful than the average notebook, but easier to carry around than a desktop. Whether this is a good thing depends on what you want: some users may feel that it sacrifices the flexibility and comfort of a full-sized computer without gaining the mobile computing capability of a true notebook, while others may find that it's just perfect for that awkward empty spot on the desk.

Some of the ideas on the Avenia have been used before, and it's my suspicion that Apple may have had some influence on its design. My personal theory is that following the market success of the iMac, other computer companies seem to be reaching the conclusion that the key to big sales is to produce a stylish-looking computer case and combine it with a mouse and keyboard so poorly designed as to be virtually unusable.

Well, this may not be a general trend, but it's the impression I get with the standard wireless keyboard with built-in pointing device - it's just too small for comfortable typing, while the Intellipoint-style tracking button is stiff and difficult to position accurately. Perhaps I am not alone in this opinion, since Mitac offers another version of the Avenia which is identical except for its Microsoft PS/2 keyboard and wheel mouse. Once again, however, the lightweight infrared keyboard, with its effective range of more than 3m, may have strong appeal to those who have a need for its particular properties.

Technically, the Avenia is not much different from a high-powered notebook, with characteristics like built-in speakers, two PCMCIA slots, and a vertically oriented notebook-style CD-ROM drive. Its 500MHz Pentium III processor, 64MB RAM, 8.4GB hard drive and ATI Rage LT graphics controller make for solid, if not spectacular, performance. The unit comes with the full array of USB and other peripheral connectors normally found on a desktop, as well as an external VGA connector, in case you're not satisfied with its built-in 15in TFT screen.

On the negative side, the system produces a constant fan noise - this is not very loud, but still more noticeable than that from a typical tower or laptop system. There's only one PCI slot for expansion, and since the case is non-standard, any major system upgrades will be entirely dependent on specialised parts produced by Mitac.

The Avenia is more of a luggable than a portable, its 7kg being more than twice the weight of an average notebook. Nevertheless, it folds up into a space the size of two shoeboxes, and it's made easier to transport by the solid built-in handle. Its portable heritage doesn't end there, either: the Avenia consumes a fraction of the power required to run a standard desktop computer, and its monitor emits no extraneous radiation.

The unusual shape that sets this computer apart will not appeal to everyone, but if you need a not-quite-desktop that's easy to transport and doesn't hog desk space, the Avenia is worth a look.

Mitac Avenia LP6613

Price: Not available

Distributor: Synnex Australia

Phone: 1300 651 665

URL: www.mitac.com.au

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Aldis Ozols

PC World

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