59 thoughts on “Averatec 3250 versus Apple IBook”

  1. How about factoring in some points for the percentage of machines that have to be returned or repaired over the first year of ownership? Apple comes out on top consistently in Consumer Reports data on this very issue. Where would Averatec end up?

  2. Keeping in mind i’m a total Apple wh0re, i’d still like to point out:

    – for an extra $50, you can have your $999 iBook shipped with an internal bluetooth module. Add many many points for iSync, which comes with OS X, and is invaluable to anybody who wants to be organized. You have to purchase that separately on Windows.

    – i’d remove many more points for WinXP. But that’s just me, as I have quite a few technical and philosophical gripes about WinXP. Service Pack 2 is trying to go back and plug some security holes, but many users have had issues with it.

    I’ve used windows quite extensively up to Win2K. My experience with XP is largely sporadic. I’ve also helped my GF install and configure a wireless card on her work XP laptop. Networking and device configuration in XP is messy.

    I could go on forever.

    On the other hand, I’ve heard PC users mention that the overall UI feels snappier on a PC, until non-trivial multi tasking gets in the picture. Is that your experience, Om? I’ve always pushed my machines really hard so i’ve learned to be generally numb about these things.

  3. Om, I bought an Averatec 6100 last week, from Amazon, and returned it the next day…the litany of problems is long..nothing very najor, but small things adeed up to a lot. i’m used to Thinkpad environs, so maybe i’m spoilt in terms of reliability…
    Problems: too much noise, flimsy case, they forgot to pack a manual (!), the touchpad is very sensitive..too much; etc..
    They still have a long way to go…

  4. Every manufacturer certainly has it’s share of problems (chris, I’m about to get my dots fixed too), but some have a good deal more than others in the percentage of machines needing repair. I wasn’t really stating an opinion so much as citing the positive numbers Apple generally gets in these data roundups when compared to Dell, HP and others. That said, I have yet to see Averatec included in one of these roundups.

  5. Hey chris added yourlink. Sorry to hear that you had those problems with Averatec. I guess I did not have problems. Having said that, seems like you all missed my point on this one. I am trying to say here is that if you are going to play the budget game, then play the game well, which apple is not doing with this low end PC. I think they should try and pack in more memory and hard drive, if they want to one-up the compeittion and win totally on price, which unfortunately is a big factor when people buy these devices

  6. Om, I can’t believe you stooped to this.

    Quick, someone mention iLife before the Torvalds wannabes flood in.

  7. Stooped! Ouch that hurt. I am sorry if that’s the way you see it. Anyway I like the price comp. I am sure we all will agree to disagree on this one.

  8. I don’t understand the reference to the better graphics chip, the specs sheet in the product tour for the Averatec indicates it’s an S3 Unichrome and I don’t know anything about that chip. Most of these spec sheets normally indicate how much memory is dedicated to the graphics processor, and whether or not it is shared with the motherboard RAM. I’m going to guess the S3 uses shared memory, which would give something of an advantage to the iBook with 32MB of dedicated VRAM with its ATI 9200 processor.

    Also, according to the spec sheet, RAM is UP TO 512MB. The iBook is UP TO 1.25 GB.

    On the other hand, the Averatec has a PCMCIA slot, which is probably a point in its favor.

    Averatec reports the battery is rated for 3hrs, my experience with my iBook G4 has demonstrated 4+ hours web browsing and light spreadsheet and word processing. So, depending on how you weight battery life, some advantage to the iBook.

    I’ve seen an Averatec in the store, and it looks like a nice piece of gear, but take a close look at the right side of the lid hinge, it looks like a potential early failure point to me. Screen display did not appear superior in any way to the iBook, they’re both nice, bright, active-matrix LCD dispays.

    Averatec offers an audio-in port, which the iBook lacks; but the iBook offers a built-in mic, which the Averatec lacks.

    Averatec’s optical drive is tray-loading versus slot-loading for the iBook. Probably not a significant feature difference apart from a certain “cool” factor to slot-loading, which is offset by the fact that you can’t use mini-CDs or the oddly shaped ones.

    In the final analysis, I’d say they’re fairly closely matched and it’s mostly a question of whether one prefers to use the Windows platform, or the Mac OS X platform.

    Sorry for the large block of text. I can’t seem to figure out how to insert paragraph breaks.

  9. But it runs Windows! That is the biggest fault of all. Who cares if the specs are a little less and the weight is a little greater. At the end of the day, all that really does not matter. Getting work done and the overall user experience, IMHO, is much better on an iBook. And kudos to Apple for finally selling a light, wireless laptop that runs a fast, modern, virus-free, spyware-free OS available for less than a grand.

  10. Interesting way to judge a computer. Seems to me the best way to judge a computer is on software availability, usability, and value.

    On software the iBook is equal to any XP based notebook for some users, comes out ahead for others, and doesn’t make the cut for others. Since we are talking bargain priced notebooks here I think we can assume home users and students so the iBook and your PC notebook should be just about even.

    On usability the XP just doesn’t match OS X. Windows gets in the way of my work while OS X is there letting me get my work done without making a big deal about it. With Windows I have my monthly (and oftener) updates that scare me. Each update I know can turn my computer into an expensive paperweight but I’m even more afraid not to install it. Of course there are virus worries and spywear worries. Any way you look at it OS X is way out in front of Windows. And let’s not forget that the next OS upgrade for the Mac is coming within about 9 months while Windows keeps getting pushed back. No, I don’t believe Microsoft will make its latest release date either.

    Finally, value. Do I believe this PC notebook will stand the test of time? We have an original iBook running Panther here at the house and while slow to boot it is quite usable. I have every reason to believe the current crop of iBooks will have similar long lives. I have no such belief about this PC notebook. When I factor in the costs of extras like virus protection, my personal costs lost to the machine’s downtimes…Again the iBook comes out on top.

    You give this PC notebook the edge? I give it the bum’s rush. The iBook is the clear winner.

  11. If you gave a point for iLife then the iBook would win, and I don’t think that’s unreasonable for what you get.

  12. I wish I had a nickel for every meeting I sat in where 80% of the laptops in the room were Powerbooks and the only people who couldn’t connect to the WIFI network were using Windows. I would give Averatec -1 for Windows wireless.

  13. Makes sense. But whatever, Om — buy someone a WinTel machine and they won’t be your friend for long. The $999 iBook is the best deal going. I bought the same machine for $1200 (including AExp card and Ram upgrade) four months ago and couldn’t be happier. You can’t really compare an OS X box to an XP box. It’s like comparing Apples and dried up, rotten, bad-tasting Oranges πŸ™‚

  14. Your rating system is seriously flawed in giving an equal bonus to Averatec for a third USB port as it does for Apple having built-in Firewire. We know what happens when multiple USB devices are plugged into one bus, and it is just not true that ANY third USB port is equivalent to the first two except in an external powered hub. We also know what happens when mutliple USB devices stream data on the bus speed. This third USB port is no where near the capability that a seperate Firewire bus offers in expansion, connectability, or performance. At most a third USB port would be worthy of a fraction of a point. Whereas the Firewire port is easily worth one point at the minimumm, and more for many users. The other items that your weighting ignored is the tremendous software suite that ships with the iBook, allowing true working functionality right out of the box. Then your review also left out something that would be of supreme importance for a price sensitive shopper, and that is the estimated lifespan and the resale value after 18-24 months of use. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to discern how Apple fulfills substantially more in these areas (vist eBay and see for yourself). For a PC, I would agree that the Averatec is a decent buy, but I don’t see why would you recommend it as a purchase against an iBook that had higher resale, more external buses and expansion capability, more software, the easiest updating system of any OS, higher reliability (according to Consumer Reports), and higher levels of owner satisfaction than comparable units.

  15. Some averatec parts are crap. The fan quicky became an annoyance. It nows sounds like its going to fall apart especially at startup when i runs full blast before software takes over the speed control. It runs too hot to use on your lap. In all it feels cheap and is cheap! I personally don’t think the LCD screen appears any better and appears more washed out to me beacause of WinXP’s gamma setting.

  16. You could own a 250,000 Maserati. But if the only gas (XP) you could put in it was putting the Maserati in the shop every two weeks then you have in effect nothing.

  17. I just got back from the Averatec Web site, and it shows all configurations of the 3200 with a 40 gig hard drive. Given you report that it has a 60 gig, I think you need to deduct at least a half a point from the Averatec rating.

    That leaves them tied at 4 points each.

  18. You are guessing at the video card. Does it have firewire? Does it have any DVD creation software?

    Clue yourself in, this is a worthless comparison.

  19. All very subjective, don’t you think?

    Mac users (yourself excluded) buy Macs not for the hardware, but for the Mac’s proprietary software, its operating system. You may give it one point, or two, or five hundred, as you wish. Personally, I wouldn’t touch XP for all the chips in Asia because of all the inherent problems with it. For me, not points, but trump suit. Get the Mac.

    Richard Taylor

  20. 3 usb ports in the averatec vs 2 usb + 1 fire wire port in iBook = 1.5 points for iBook and 1 point for averatec (better all around functionality).

    Looks: agree the averatec is not hideous, but equal to the iBook? No way. The clean modern looks of the iBook; its hinge design and slot loading CD is so much superior and aesthetically pleasant than the averatec. Add 1 point to the iBook (I do like to look cool while at the airport you know).

    Let’s say I agree with you about performance and everything else, and I come up with 5.5 points for the iBook vs 4.5 for the averatec.

    Yup, that’s correct folks; iBook wins this one, hands down.

    The bottom line: I am still going to be more productive, worry free, happier, and much cooler by carrying an iBook than the Averatec. And good Lord, who wants to own a computer named Averatec anyway? Subtract an additional .5 from the Averatec.

  21. Consider a Pair of jeans

    at the GAP: $29
    at Levi’s: $39
    at Zegna: $229
    at Armani: $299

    So the GAP jeans wins out in your opinion.

  22. First, the graphics chip on the Averatec is an S3, which is pathetic to say the least — think ATI Rage 64-level — maybe 128, if you’re lucky. Definitely no Radeon, and only dreams of anywhere near Radeon 9200 performance. Second, there’s XP Home operating system. Equivalence to OS X would have to be XP Pro, so another $100. Then, there’s the Athlon which, bare-bones, may be faster than a 1.2ghz G4, but when you figure that with a Windows OS it constantly has to run antivirus software which easily saps about 10-15% of a processor’s performance — almost 50% when doing a lot of file reading/writing — and then how easy it is for spyware to infect and the draw on the processor that has, any performance advantage the Athlon has is minimal. Now true, you can’t yet get a DVD burner in the 12″ iBook, even CTO, which I think is a huge mistake. In any case, you should consider these things in your point system.

  23. Apple’s included software bundle is superior — and certainly worth a point or two if this is a low-end laptop purchase for family or friends. The iApps + Appleworks + Quicken covers a lot of ground…

  24. Are you drawing these comparisons from actual use?

    The spec says “up to 512Mb”, which is not actually that good. The iBook can manage MUCH more RAM. The spec on the video card is very vague. Usually means nothing to crow about.

    It also can’t run OS X, which for me is the deal breaker. Good to see PC makers trying though.

  25. Re: For a Windows XP PC, it is pretty radical and cool looking

    Ummm, looks like a typical PC to me – I just know that a peek at detail level will reveal crude ports and moulding junctions…

  26. I agree with you that this is impressively spec’ed for a Windows laptop, and at its price point, I’d consider it my new top-recommendation to someone dead-set on choosing a Windows laptop over a Mac… BUT…
    Assuming that I was willing to part with my iBook G4 based on specs alone, there are still 2 HUGE dealbreakers here for me. First, the Averatec only supports a maximum of 512MB RAM (versus the iBook’s 1.25GB!), which we all know is barely sufficient for any serious work in WinXP.
    Second, while the laptop has a one-year warranty, the battery is only covered for 6 months?! What gives?
    Anybody considering a $999 iBook purchase who feels swayed toward this Averatec laptop needs to take a long, hard look at these two points.

  27. Averatec’s S3 Unichrome is a shared-memory graphics chip… no match for the iBook’s ATI Mobility Radeon 9200 with 32 MB of dedicated DDR memory. I would have scored that one the other way (add a point for iBook, deduct one for Averatec).

    And no points for battery life? 6 hours for iBook, 3 hours for Averatec.

    And as others have mentioned… what about the bundled iLife applications?

    I agree that the Averatec is a nice-looking laptop at a good price point. But it has its compromises and downsides too.

  28. Hmm, not sure I would be giving any points for the video chipset on the Avertec system. It is a very low end S3 UniChrome chip which some reviewers have compared to just below an ATI Radeon 7000. The iBook has Mobility Radeon 9200, quite a bit better I’d say.

    I won’t say which screen is better without a side by side comparison, but don’t base the Avertec’s quality on the video controller, it’s just not as good.

    Also while the Avertec system comes with 512MB RAM, that’s it, you can’t put in any more. The iBook supports up to 1.25 GB which is pretty darn good for a small laptop!

    The DVD burner is a definite plus, Apple needs to step up and get those into their lower end offereings, though it wouldn’t affect my buying decision.

    -my 2 cents

  29. the averatec may win on hardware, but it totally loses on software…. both the $949 and $980 versions come with (blecch!) windows xp home edition … to get xp pro — which is more comparable to apple’s os x — you’d have to buy the $1100 version (model number AV3255P1-01).

  30. Are you crazy? What about the inherent value of the operating system and the supplied programs? Your analysis/comparison via hardware is extremely simplistic … Why anyone would buy someone a computer that runs Windows XP is beyond me … you must have lots of spare time for troubleshooting.

  31. I looked at the Averatec 3200 a couple of times. Now that the space bar has been widened, it’s a nice small laptop. My biggest problem with it is the incredible heat it puts off when it is plugged in. People claim the 12in Mac laptops run hot, but this thing can fry an egg.

  32. I could be wrong but I think you may have confused some models. When I visited the link for Averatec it states starting ‘as low as $999’. They have an asterisk on the DVD burner saying it is only available on selected models. I checked at Amazon and it seems the $999 version does not include the DVD writer, and it only has a 40GB hard drive. There may be other things missing from the $999 version.

    The iBook comes with much more application software (full versions, not demo versions). This includes Appleworks and iLife (iPhoto, iMovie, iDVD, iTunes, GarageBand). Sometimes you can get free memory if you buy the iBook from on online vendor. Also, Apple offers educational discounts which are not hard to qualify for.

  33. The 3200 does not have a discrete vidio card, can only use 512mb of ram, has a poorer software package and has a weaker warranty (battery) then the ibook. However, it does have word which is a bonus.

  34. Certainly the Averatec has a few things going for it, but there’s two more points you can safely award to the iBook. The iBook’s battery life is almost twice as good (6 hrs versus 3+ hrs). And the iBook’s video chipset is in fact far, far superior to the Averatec (one point less there). The iBook has an ATI Radeon 9200 with dedicated memory, which is already twice as fast as an integrated ATI Radeon, which is about twice as fast as an integrated Intel 855, which in turn is twice as fast as the S3 UniChrome in the Averatec. It is seriously scraping the bottom of the barrel. Be proud that Apple doesn’t shortchange its low-end laptops by saddling them with integrated video like so many of its competitors.

  35. One thing you’ve missed – which is very important to me, and many laptop users – is battery life. The iBook shines here: I’ve lost count of the number of meetings I’ve attended, where the windows users get into near-fistfights over access to the one or two electric sockets in the room, while the iBook has sufficient battery life to run through the whole meeting.

    That factor alone has been enough to quell the longings for a smaller, faster laptop. Processor speed means diddly if your computer is out of juice.

    cheers, Mark

  36. Ummmmm.. no firewire. No iLife. can’t run FCP or FCPE DVDSP iDVD and I’m sorry but that machine is not in the same design league as the iBook ( unless you like that design) and there is no DVD burnder on the $999 model. it ius a DVD-ROM/ CDRW just as in the ibook at that price point.
    Anyways You’ll be out some bucks for a FW cardbus card so there goes the $999 if you match the iBook specs.

  37. Since Apple dropped the iBook to $999, I’ve actually been looking at this myself. Been a Windows / Solaris / Linux user since I started with computers. On to the faulty comments. The Averatec COMES with 512 Mb RAM and maxes at 1.5 Gb. Also comes with 60 Gig HD. Yes graphics sucks on the AV. iBook has the Radeon 9200. Though with the AV you can span or clone with an external monitor. As far as software goes, I’d be using Firefox browser, Thunderbird email, and OpenOffice.org suite with either one. Does the iBook come with a graphics program? Cause I use GIMP on Windows and Linux. And OS upgrades? Never done it. Just use what came with it till it gets too slow and becomes a Linux file server. I’ll be following this thread to help me decide which to get in Feb.

  38. I got the Averatec AV3250 a week ago was able to upgrade to over a gig of RAM, no problem.Not sure why the box and site says it’s only upto 512. I’ve been using it next to my iBook friend a few times and the screen quality is roughly even (Of course I say mines better).

    The actual speed is subject to use. Playing games is obviously better with a beefed up graphics card. But when doing stuff like watching a divx movie or just doing homework, it runs as smooth as silk. I haven’t used the iBook enough to make a fair comparison, but it did seem a bit more sluggish (Maybe because of all that crap he has on it).

    Battery life wise, iBook is obviously the clear winner. Of course I wouldn’t say the Averatec is bad, it just can’t touch the 5 hours or so of the iBook. Still, 3-3.5 hours ain’t too shabby.

    Eas of use. This is probably the biggest factor. What can I say, I was weened on windows and therefore that’s what I use. Call me unsophisticated, but I actually like the XP setup. I got nothing against Apple’s OS, this is just a personal preference.

    For the looks, I’d have to say the iBook wins hands-down. Damn those things are sexy. Although the Averatec looks better then my old IBM and most of the PCs at the store, it justcan’t stack up the sleekness that is the iBook.

    Overall, Mac users will obviously get the iBook, and Windows users will get the Averatec (Or other similarly cheap laptops). So did I have a point? Obviously not.

  39. I just got my 3250 from Sam’s Club. The Sam’s Club model is the only model with a DVD burner at the $999 price point. The dual +- DVD burner is only a 2x, but that’s acceptable for a laptop.

    So far, I love it. Works great, and the integrated WiFi is a great addition to my home wireless network.

  40. Wow you guys are way to close minded. I am both a mac an pc person, i used to sell computers and now i’m in IT. So we all know that macs are hard core reliable yes but they arn’t the best thing in the world. Yes lots of pc have to be repaired often and if you know how to use a pc properly then you can avoid allot of that. Mac dosn’t break down because it been designed so a 5 year old can understand how to use it. Iv used the averatec laptop in question yes you can get them at consumer electornic stores with the above mentioned configuration. and yes they are good machines if you are on a budget. With the averatec you don’t have to do any upgrades to get it to a decent performance level and you can just about anything you want on it. with the mac one it has a slow cpu i’m sorry but even thought it is a mac cpu with generally run faster than pentium its still slow and you have to add ram. Now every one bashing on windows why don’t you pull you head out of your anus and go get linux you can run it on either type of system mac or pc and it blows both out of the water if you know how to use it, although if you did know how to use a computer properly most of you wouldn’t be bashing this guy for giving credit where it is due to the averatec.

  41. Hey, just got a Averatec 3250 myself.
    I am a “retired” Mac user (a long story) Now a (somewhat forced) PC user. I try not to look back!

    For my traveling PC need this little baby works great and the DVD burner and 80 gig drive is a plus! Also here is the US I paid 900 bucks after two rebates a CC store! That’s hard to beat!

    And it had XP pro!

    Screen is great!
    Speed is great!
    Size and weight!
    Windows XP….oh yea it sucks!

    I boot with Suse Linux 75% of the time!

    Ibook G4 is going away as a laptop thus price reduction from Apple. It’s their way of telling you! I know from the past!

  42. Hi Bill, I am thinking about buying an averatec 3200 series with the DVD burner 80G and so forth too. And I am planning to install Suse Linux 9.1 Prof. Do you have trouble with the wireless, DVD burner, or the LAN card?

    My 15.4″ Dell is way too heavy and clumsy. Took me a few days to get all the drivers for Win2k.

    BTW, I find Win2K way more stable and secure than XP Home Sp2. And I used to love the Mac, but PC has the volume πŸ™

  43. Guys,
    I have mac and pc and prefer my powerbook (12″), but, lately I have been using Nextel’s new wireless broadband internet service, which is g r e a t. DSL to the laptop. Anyway, guess what? Nextel does not support Mac, and my powerbook lacks a PCMCIA slot anyway..so, I’m looking for a cheap on the road laptop, and the Averatec looks pretty good to me. Other than a used/refurb Thinkpad X40.

    I love the powerbook, and airport, but it is unable to take advantage of upcoming broadband via carriers like Nextel. That is my mobile issue now.

    great board and thanks for all the comments about the mac vs av’tec.

    i hear that the ‘tec does not get better than 1.5 hours on battery though.

  44. Put Linux on your Averatec. Mepis Linux is very nicely configured, and once you grab decss a couple of codecs from an off-shore repository, you
    have a very nicely configured system, with a whole world of free software that can be downloaded. And with Wine, it runs Microsoft and Adobe office apps.

    Mepis is free or you can get it from Amazon with a book “Point and Click Linux”.

    Here’s my installation story:

    I must agree that WinXP is awful and that OSX looks nice. But with Mac you are locked in and you pay and pay and pay. Plus they take from the free software community and give little back.

    I suppose you could put Linux on the iBook …

  45. Hey, I’ve owned over a dozen Macs – starting with a IIvx and a variety of Powerbooks and PPCs.

    I crunched the numbers, used Windows XP for a year alongside a Mac and eventually bought an HP Pavilion zd7260 notebook.

    It was about $1000 less (yes, that’s one-thousand) than a comparable 17″ Apple notebook.

    I can’t justify the Apple overhead anymore and you can make WinXP look a lot like MacOS.


  46. thanx alot everybody that posted. I was debating whether to buy the iBook which I absolutely love or to buy the Averatec and thanks to all of your comments, I have decided. I had a feeling something was wrong when I first read the article. iBook win’s my vote, hands down, no problem. =P

  47. *now how did i got to this page when i was googling for averatec replacement batteries…*

    I have absolutely no intention to engage in the highly profound *debate* of averatec v.s iBook (from the looks of it most of you are leet Mac-ers or IT professionals) but as a university student I think my 3250 was a fair buy, considering the fact that my university’s wire-d and wire-less claim to “only support XP”

    >the battery life is a fsck though πŸ˜›

  48. i bought my averatec 3200 its really great but one problem it lost its portability i only can use it wile its in charge and its finished charging.Does any one know whats wrong plz tell me. o and apple sucks

  49. I need help. Can you tell me how i can get the driver for my mini pci wireless
    network adapter (802.11g).Thanks.

  50. Still enjoying my Averatec 3250HX five years later. Recently installed Windows 7, Ubuntu Karmic and Puppy Linux on it and, just for kicks, OSx86 with the appropriate patch for SSE2. Also added an internal Bluetooth module for $20, and upgraded the drive to a solid-state beauty.

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