I generally like to tinker around with computers, however a few months back, the main desktop PC in the house died in spectacular fashion. With a big puff of smoke, the power supply declared "no more" and took the motherboard, processor and who knows what else with it. Given the sheer hassle of replacing all of the components, and the relative age of the system I decided to take the plunge and purchase a new PC. The model that caught my eye was the Advent DT1308.
Now I've never had an Advent model before, so wasn't totally sure I was making the correct decision. However, after a trip to my local PC World I decided to go for it. I paid £400 for it, going down the route of reserving it online, taking advantage of the slight discount that they offer for such as thing. This is for the computer alone, as my old monitor was OK for me. It would have cost an extra £80 to have the monitor that was supplied as part of the package. It is also probable that you could pick this model up for a few quid less online, but as my computer was dead at the time, this wasn't really an option.
The computer once unpacked is very stylish, being a shiny black colour and reasonably compact. It easily fitted into the hole in my desk where my previous one struggled to fit. The back of the computer is laid out in the usual way, so it's very easy to connect everything up to it. To the front of the unit is the power button, as well as the DVD drive which blends in nicely to the rest of the unit, and a hidden compartment where the SD reader and USB ports can be found. All in all a very pleasing look, and one which will in my opinion fit well into most households.
The initial set up of the computer was also a pleasant surprise. Being quite experienced these days in setting up new systems, I have found that some of them can be long winded, not explained well for newer users, or just plain wrong! This computer comes with a poster style card, which has all of the contents on it, where they plug into at the back, what the different slots are for, and how to set it up. Now I personally don't really need to use this, but for less experienced computer users, I feel it is essential that the manufacturer gives you an easy start up guide, as there is nothing more infuriating than not being able to get going with a new purchase as quickly as possible.
Once you have finished the set up, and when the computer is first turned on, Windows will guide you through its installation, allowing you to customise your set up to some degree. This model is supplied with Windows 7 Home Edition as standard, and this operating system should be adequate for 99% of home computer users. The first thing you are encouraged to do on first boot up is to create system recovery discs. No software discs are provided these days with new computers, so creating these recovery discs are essential for you to be able to reinstall all of the factory software in case of a major problem. A nice little touch here from Advent was the addition of 2 blank DVD's and a little box for storage. I've never seen this from any other computer that I have bought, and so appreciated not having to scrabble around to try and find blank discs.
So Advent gains lots of points for ease of set up and nice little touches, but how does it compare on a technical level with performance? Well firstly let me just say that I will give a brief overview of the main specifications of the computer, but have no intention of going into masses of technical detail, as I don't believe the average consumer will find it of interest. If you do want the in-depth technical data for this model, then there are several dedicated computer sites that will discuss it.
The computer comes equipped with an Intel Core i5-2310 processor with a speed of 2.90GHz. This puts it very much in the mid-range of what is currently available, which to be fair is what you would expect from a sub £500 model. I've not had any issues with speed with regards to anything that I have run on the computer as yet, including multitasking, although I haven't tried running any really high end games on it.
There is 3GB of RAM installed, which again should be adequate for most home computer needs. The industry standard is around 4GB now, and other similarly priced alternative models seemed to come equipped with 4GB, but I don't think for everyday use that it will make that much of a difference.
The most impressive feature is a 1TB hard driver, which is pretty large for this value of computer. As a result it is perfect for people who wish to download loads of television, film or music, and my personal recommendation due to its size would be to partition it into two, and have one as a backup of the other.
Both the sound and graphics on this model are run of the mill, and as a result may not suit people who want the full experiences of modern graphics intensive gaming. However for everyday use it is again difficult to pick flaws in this system, and as a result will be adequate for most.
Another major bonus with this particular system is its stability. Having had it running now for almost 4 months, I've not once had any issues with blue screens, system crashes or anything else unusual happening, which is a definite bonus. Windows 7 is definitely more stable, and more customisable than the previous couple of operating systems from Microsoft, and you also get free trial versions of Norton Security as well as the latest edition of Microsoft Office with the computer, although these will need purchasing and activating online should you wish to use them beyond the trial period of 30 days.
So to sum up this computer, I would say that I am pleasantly surprised. Having never really come across an Advent product before, the jury was definitely out initially, but due to its faultless performance so far I would say that I am now convinced. The performance will not be to everyone's liking, and for hardcore gamers I wouldn't advise this computer, and I think for the kind of performance required for some of the most modern games, you will be looking in the £1000 price bracket. For everyone else looking for a good quality, reasonably good specification machine in the sub £500 category for everyday home use, you could do a lot worse than go for the Advent DT1308, and I would thoroughly recommend it for this group of people.
Thanks for reading this, and this review may appear on Ciao under my same username.