You can’t expect too much from a laptop costing less than £300, but the Advent Tacto does manage to get the basics right. Its performance, screen quality and battery life rival those of a number of more expensive laptops, so it’s a great choice if you’re on a really tight budget and need a lightweight laptop.
Advent is the brand name used on budget PCs made specially for the Dixons stores group, which includes PC World and Currys. The Advent Tacto certainly looks to be good value for money, as it manages to offer perfectly respectable screen quality and entry-level performance for a mere £270. (See: What’s the best budget laptop?)
The Tacto is solidly built for such an affordable device, with a sturdy case and good, firm screen panel. It’s a little heavy for a laptop with an 11.6-inch screen, weighing almost 1.5 kg and measuring 25 mm thick, but that’s light enough to carry around without too much trouble. The purple model that we tested might not be to everyone’s taste, but the Tacto is also available in a more sedate silvery-grey.
Screen quality is often a weakness with budget laptops, but the Tacto performed surprisingly well here. Its 1366 x 768 resolution is only to be expected at this price, but the screen is bright enough to provide good horizontal viewing angles, and you can move around a bit while watching some streaming video or show off your holiday snaps to a friend sitting beside you with no trouble at all.
The vertical viewing angle is more limited, and the screen darkens as soon as you start to tilt it backwards, but we’ve seen worse on laptops costing £500. And while we’re still not convinced that touchscreens are particularly useful on laptops, the inclusion of one here may be a welcome bonus at this price.
The Advent Tacto even manages to include gigabit ethernet – a feature lacking in many expensive Ultrabooks – along with both HDMI and VGA interfaces for connecting a larger screen. (See also: What’s the best laptop?)
The one real disappoinment is that the Tacto’s three USB ports are all only USB 2.0 rather than the very useful USB 3.0. The speakers are also rather feeble – they were barely audible when listening to the news on the BBC iPlayer even at maximum volume, so you’ll need to carry around some headphones if you want to listen to some music or the dialogue of a film. The keyboard feels a bit cramped too – with a key pitch of just 17 mm – so it won’t be ideal for less nimble-fingered users.
Performance is inevitably quite restricted, with the Tacto’s 1.6 GHz Intel Celeron processor managing an overall score of just 2064 points when running the general purpose PCMark 7 benchtests. But again, we’ve seen worse scores from other budget laptops costing £100 more than the Tacto, and its 4 GB of memory and 500 GB hard disk will allow it to accomodate most basic computing tasks perfectly well.
Battery life is quite respectable too. The spec sheet for the Tacto lists it at ‘up to three hours’, but we got a full four hours (240 mins) when looping video in our usual HD video test, so it should certainly allow you to get a few hours of web browsing when you’re out and about.
Advent Tacto: Specs
- Product code: 64727
- Display size and type: 11.6-inch (1366 x 768, 135 ppi) gloss TN LCD
- Operating system: Windows 8.1 (64-bit)
- Processor: 1.6 GHz Intel Celeron 1017U (dual-core)
- Graphics: Intel HD (integrated)
- Storage: 500 GB HDD, 5400 rpm
- Memory: 4 GB DDR3
- Ethernet: gigabit ethernet
- Video out: HDMI 1.4, VGA
- Wi-Fi: 802.11b/g/n
- Bluetooth: Bluetooth 4.0
- Webcam: 0.9 Mp
- Speakers: stereo Audio in: built-in mic
- Audio out: 3.5mm line-out
- USB: 3 x USB 2.0
- Other ports: Kensington lock slot
- Card slot: SDXC
- Trackpad: 90 x 55 mm, buttonless, multi-touch
- Power adaptor: 40 W mains adaptor
- Battery: 40 Wh lithium-ion, non-removable
- Dimensions (wdh): 300 x 200 x 25 mm
- Weight: 1.45 kg