Product Type: Advent laptops
Newest Review: ... computer is fast to load up and is too reliable. To only real issue I have with it is the battery life, which only lasts about an hour, de... more
Advent Schmadvent (UPDATED)
Member Name: callancool
Date: 12/03/10, updated on 19/01/11 (575 review reads)
Advantages: Good Specs for price
Disadvantages: Build quality, Faulty, not repaired
ADVENT 6552 LAPTOP.
It had been a long time since the CoolsterTM had written a DooYoo Review. He'd several topics for consideration: his camera, (yes he'd bought ANOTHER one) His MP3 player (yes he was on his 5th), Cavity wall insulation (not as boring as you might think, and Callan's job for 2 and a half years), or his Laptop (on his 2nd). As you're no doubt aware, he's a bit of a bargain hunter, even a haggler - in 2009 he got £30 off two laptops and a free case thrown in, from a major UK High Street office supplies retailer because he haggled. So what was the product to be? ......
After a lot of careful consideration, (well it was no contest really) the result of the viewers phone in was ready to be announced. In the 'Write Off' Zone were the Camera and MP3 player. Dermot O'Dreary was supposed to be announcing the winner, but, as his boss Wyman Powell wouldn't let him do it unless the result was fixed and the review was about Susan Doyle's new C.D. (it was Cal's wife who bought Susie's C.D., honest), we have to make do with that chirpy Snotty Mash Comedian Den Codd and his Kiddyman sidekick Mickie Skint doing the honours (well they are local and were only charging Callan a years subscription to the 'Liverpool Echo').
Den enthusiastically announced "How Pickled I am..." (Well Den does like a good single malt whisky or seven as does the real Ken) "To announce that the winner is......" There was the usual pregnant pause before Mickie Skint quipped "Callan's Advent 6552 17 inch Laptop!" Den was fuming, but Mickie unrepentantly sneered back"You're too P****d to it, and besides, you 'aven't paid me for the past three months you tight Scouse Scally!" So there you have it, Callan's writing a review on his Advent Laptop, which really is a double entendre as he is using the laptop to write the review as well as it being the subject of it.
Surprisingly, it had nothing to do with the Christian meaning of Advent (even though the Coolster tm's a Born Again Christian), but everything to do with the Mr Kipling (exceedingly good) price he bought it for. Although it's a refurbished machine, it came with a full 12 months warranty, and at a Katie (price) he couldn't refuse.
Gotta Keep Searchin!
Browsing loads of websites was a bit of a chore for our Cal. He'd noticed early on that all the DSGI websites(Curry's, Dixons & P.C. World) except Lasky's (SpecialistTV/DVD Video site) were offering refurbished products with a 12 month Guarantee at fantastic prices. (He later bought a 19" Toshiba Telly for his daughter for just 99 smackers from curry's online). It quickly became obvious that no one could match the specs and prices anywhere. Laptops could be bought from £230 (not netbooks), though these may be slightly older models up to 12 months old with Celeron processors and 120 Gigabyte Hard drives. Not all the models listed were in stock, some were deliberately left on so people can see the kind of bargains they've missed out on. The specs and price made his heart bounce out from his chest like it does in the cartoons. It was Lurve at first sight. It must be said that you have to get in quick as these bargains go fast. Callan originally left it too late, and mised out, but more stock came online, so he decided to take the plunge (even though he can't swim) and order one. The moths came flying out of his wallet when he opened bit as they'd never seen daylight before. There were gasps of shock all round, and Cal's wife fainted, when he pulled out a debit card to pay for it. The CoolsterTM had at last joined the electronic banking age. All the laptops were listed on all three sites so stock must be group stock for the three companies.
Making a Spectacle of the Specs.
The specs that tempted Callan to open his wallet were mouth watreringly delicious.
Intel Pentium Dual Core T3400 Processor @ 2.16 GHZ
17 Clear View Widescreen
3 GB DDR Ram d
667 MHZ FSB
250 GB Toshiba Hard Drive
Multi Format DVD Writer
5 in 1 card reader
1 E-sata/Usb port.
Windows Vista Home Premium.
The Price Is Right.
The most important factor , according to Leslie Crowther, Brucie Forsythe and poor old Joe Pasquale (Man, Callan hates Joe Pasquale's squeak - its cack!) is the price. The Coolster tm had found a great laptop at a bargain price. There were plenty of of refurbished laptops on the P.C. World site. For example, a refurbished Advent Verona laptop (250 GB HDD & 3 GB ram) with 12 mths warranty was only £279.99 against a new price of £329.98, whilst an e-machines 525903 refurbished laptop with 3 GB Memory and a Whopping 500GB Hard Drive was £309.99 on 08/02 2010. Callan's 17 inch beauty set him back just £339.98 back in November 09. Delivery on laptops from other websies can add an extra £20-30 to the cost, but another plus point was that delivery was free, which meant the price on screen was the price he paid.
Ordering was easy enough, the website had signed up with Callan's bank to offer additional pasword protection for his card, so he created a password. This added extra security for Cal. All DSGI websites are secure sites, so the CoolsterTM was quite happy to give his card details. One thing he noted though was that DSGI are known to use every trick they can to get you to spend more. Indeed, if you go to buy a laptop or computer, they'll automatically add Norton Security to your basket, and if you don't uncheck it before you checkout they'll charge you for it and send it to you. Cal was already aware of this sharp practice, but amazingly, Norton hadn't been added to his basket. Immediately after placing the order, an e-mail was sent to the Coolstertm thanking him for his order, and saying it would be confirmed soon. This worried our Cal, as he'd previously noted refurbished products selling fast. Would he get his laptop? The next day, he eagerly checked his email for the confirmation. It arrived, and gave him a link to track it online with DHL. This told him the laptop was on it's way and had been picked up from the DSGI warehouse at Hemel Hempstead and was now at a DHL depot. Delivery would take 3 working days. It was due on the following Tuesday.
Stand & Deliver.
Callan checked the shipment's progress each day. On the Monday it was at the DHL Preston depot, and the next morning the website said it was 'Out For Delivery' or on the van. It arrived at 4pm, delivdred by a solo courier, not the big red and yellow DHL van our Callan had been expecting. Indeed, he did quiz the driver about it, only to be told that this was the norm nowadays.
Packing It In.
The laptop came in a plain brown box. There was in no polystyrene padding, just cardboard folded to make a tight fit. A label stuck to the side of the box outlined the specs of the machine. The laptop came in a clear polythene bag with a thin sheet of foam between the keyboard and screen. There was no protective film over the screen or lid, unlike he'd got with his first laptop which was brand new. As he was aware, there were no printed manuals or discs in the box. Also in the box were the power adapter and battery as well as a printed safety guide. It was reasonably well packaged. No complaints there.
The Way You Look Tonight.
Although it was a refurbished machine, you'd never tell just by looking at it. It looked immaculate. The CoolsterTM had expected to find so me scratches on the casing, but however hard he looked, there wasn't a single blemish in sight. The shiny black lid had Advent written on it, and thin circular lines all over it. Inside the casing was perfect too, no blemishes there either. The outside edge of the inside casing was silver, looking like spray painted plastic, whilst the rest of the case was matte black, and indented with circular grooves. It didn't look anywhere near as classy as the lid. The silver looked as if it would wear off, and the overall impression was that it looked a little cheap. However the plastic didn't feel flimsy. Other laptops looked and felt sturdier but this didn't look or feel as if it would break at the slightest touch. Overall, the design looked as if it was made on a budget.
Socket To Me Baby.
The Advent had several ports (sockets) in it's case. Two USB, one E-sata, a 5 in one card reader, a PC card slot, mouse port, ethernet, and DVI (monitor) out. Surprisingly there was no SVHS TV out socket. 'The lack of a firewire port might be a problem for those wanting to edit DV camcorder footage' thought the CoolsterTM .
The 17.0'' screen was very bright and gave a sharp image. Photo's looked really bright and full of colour. It wasn't quite as big as some as the 17.3'' screens, but the missing 0.3'' was noticeable, compared to his wifes' Acer. The images looked really good on screen, sharp and clear, thanks to the excellent screen. A 1.3 megapixel webcam was embedded into the lid casing which was more than adequate, though our Cal didn't use it.
Thanks For The Memory
3 Gigabytes of Ram was very genorous, and the computer ran very smoothly indeed. In fact Callan had only ever had 2 crashes in four months usage, which was much better than any of his other computers.
Driving Me Crazy.
The computer came with a 250 GB Toshiba Hard Drive, which Callan thought was more than ample, especially as a lot of laptops only come with 160 Gb drives. The optical drive was a TSST super multi DVD rewritable drive, which is pretty much standard in all new laptops.
Tinklin' The Ivories.
The keyboard wasn't up to much in our Cal's opinion. There wasn't anything wrong with it, it just felt cheap. There was no 'Caps Lock' and Scroll Lock' lights on the laptop. Instead a large Icon appeared on screen when they were pressed. Also, when pressed, the icons on the silver keys came onscreen. It was comfortable to use. An added bonus was that with the laptop being 17'' it boasted a full size keyboard, with full sized keys. It was much easier to use than , say, a cramped netbook keyboard.
Read 'Em & Weep.
The card reader was easy to use, and consisted of a single slot. It took SD/MMC/XD and MS/MS Duo. Windows recognised Callan's SD card immediately.
The onboard speakers were driven by a Microsoft High Definition Audio Device as reported by Device manager. The sound from the built in speakers, as with most laptops, was terrible, but though headphones sounded reasonably good, though nothing an audiophile would rave about.
Wi-F' aye Man.
The built in Wireless B/G/N wi-fi adapter had no problems logging onto Callans Wireless Network. However sometimes it refused to connect to certain sites, whilst his wife's Acer had no problems even when they were sitting next to each other.It became so frequent call resorted to a reboot of the router, which solved the problem, though it occaisionally happens now. Wether it's the Wireless card or the router at fault is anyone's guess.
The laptop was faulty from day one. The cursor kept jumping all over the screen and inserting itself in the text at random. Thus Cal might be typing a Ciao! Review and the cursor would jump all over the place and insert itself elsewhere several times, rather likinserting texte anywhere in the document. This cproveould very annoying. (the gobbledegook you've just read should say 'rather like inserting text' and 'Could prove very annoying' and is eactly what happens when typing). It was booked in for repair,but the engineers could find no fault. On it's return it was doing it even more often. Pickup had been quick and free. The laptop was returned four working days later. Another fault with the silver buttons was not fixed, the icons weren't coming onscreen, and the media player button didn't work , the technicians reply being they didn't work properly in Win 7, when they'd been working in Win 7 before. Callan was not impressed at all. The Coollster tm will update Ciaoers as to his progress.
Win 7 Upgrade.
The laptop qualified for a 'Free' Win 7 upgrade. The hidden catch (there's a hidden catch with everything except the grants for Cavity Wall & Loft Insulation our Cal sells) was the £9.99 fee for shipping and handling of the upgrade media. Although the charge was the lowest of any major UK manufacturer (except Mesh & Chilliblast who didn't charge) the Coolstertm felt ripped off as it came through the post in a small Jiffy bag with 52p postage on it. £1 would have been a fair charge Jiffy's's cost about 40p. If it had been delivered by courier (like Dell did), the charge would have been justified.
If you like a lot of laptop for your money, then on paper this is the laptop for you. The price of £339 is significantly cheaper than most brand new 17" laptops by at least £60 and you can't tell they're refurbished, build quality, whilst being acceptable, is only just so.The lack of firewire could be a problem for people with a mini DV camcorder. The faults that have happened should have been rectified, but weren't. Trading standards, and a local engineer for a report will be Callan's next port of call. He would like to know if any other Ciaoer has had issues with PC world/Curry's/Dixons refurbished products. As for reccomending the laptop, Cal is unable to do so at this time, though if the issues he will raise again with DSGI are resolved he will amend this review. All I can say is 'Watch This Space' for the CoolsterTM's update.
Update: Well the laptop went back in for repair to The Tech Guys, and guess how long it was away for this time? 6 weeks. Of the original faults, only the sticky 9 key had been fixed first time round. After 3 weeks, a phone call to the Tech Guys ascertained that they'd had to send away for a new motherboard & Trackpad. These were on order from the far east. Two weeks later and Callan was told he'd get a call within 24 hrs.
Roughly 24 hrs later the call came. The parts had arrived and were dead on arrival. New parts had been ordered (including a new CPU! Why a CPU?) and were in stock (confusing, when they'd had to order parts in from abroad before). The Coolster had the option of requesting a replacement or waiting. That was on the Teusday. On the Wednesday Our Cal rang to request a replacement for a nice Dell Refurbished laptop he'd seen on the P.C. World website. He was told he'd get a call over it. However, on the Thursday, guess what? The Laptop arrived.
Callan was getting ready for work, which meant it was 10pm before it could be tested. Less than a minute of typing had elapsed before.... You've guessed it..... the cursor jumped. 30 seconds later it jumped again. Callan tried the media buttons above the keyboard. Guess what? That's right, not a Dickie Bird. They hadn't been fixed. Mrs Cool was given the laptop to type on. She fared a little better than Cal, but it did jump twice for her. Her verdict was a sensitive touch pad that was easy to brush, causing the jumping cursor. Callan was almost angry, and his wife said he'd have to put up with the faulty laptop.
Salvation arrived unexpectedly the next morning. Before he had a chance to ring and complain, Helen from the P.C. World online department rang him to say the nice Dell he wanted was no longer in stock. He explained his frustration to Helen, who was unware his laptop had been returned. He asked for an exchange, and surprisingly, she agreed. She offered a Dell 1545, but it only had a 160 Gig hard drive and a 15.6" screen. Cal said he'd check the website and get back to helen ASAP. Like lightening his desktop fired up,
After 5 pages of Refurbished laptops all being 15.6 and having small hard drives with lower memories, he saw another Advent 6551 and a 6552, but if they suffered from faulty trackpads they'd be no good. On the next page was another nice Dell, an Inspiron 1720, 17", 250 Gig HDD, 3 Gig RAM, and as a bonus, a firewire port which would suit Callan's DVD Camcorder down to a tee. But there was a fly in the ointment, it was £20 dearer. Well, Cal could but ask. Just in case he was turned down there was an Acer with 15.6" screen, 4 Gig RAM & £320 Gig HDD for £299. He'd been told on the Wednesday if a replacement his card would be refunded the difference.
He needen't have worried, Helen was as good as her word. He asked for the Inspiron 1720 and was told 'No problem'. She'd send him some returns labels by e-mail and booked a pickup of the advent for Monday. Once it back at the depot the Dell would be sent out. That afternoon a message was lefton his ansafone statingthat due to no one at the depot being able to use a reach fork lift, it would be dispatched on Monday and delivered on Tuesday.
Monday came and nearly went. Pickup was scheduled betweem 9.00am & 5.00pm. DHL came at 4.30. Tuesday came, and this time went. Wednesday neccessitated a phone call, and Cal was told the phone call had been in error. It would be later that day, or Thursday that the Advent would be booked in. The customer service team assured the Coolster he'd get a phone call and an e-mail giving him the tracking number so he'd know which day it would arrive. Wednesday night: No e-mail, Thursday: No e-mail, Friday: No e-mail by work time. The Coolster goes off to work. Fri 5pm: Cal Texts the wife to see if the business cards he was waiting for had arrived.Txt from Mrs. Cool. 'No, but a Laptop has!.'
The Bottom Line.
Well that's the end of the Advent affair. As a laptop it's reasonably specified, though it does have a serious flaw with the touchpad making it completely unuseable for typing. Customer sevice is practically a joke, 6 weeks away for an item only to return unrepaired beggars belief. And for a new Motherboard, Trackpad and CPU to be fitted seems extravagant. Having said that, two computer technicians told me that if the cause of a fault cannot be traced, the main parts are changed in the hope it cures them. apparantly it's more cost effective, than having an engineer spend hours tracking down the cause of a fault. Unfortunately, it's such a serious fault that the advent cannot be recomended by the Coolster.
Summary: Make up your own mind.
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