Fancy a MacBook Air lookalike for half the price of the original? Pay your money and take your choice after seeing the Advent Altro.

As with most products from Dixon Stores Group house-brand Advent Computers, the Altro is a rebadge of a laptop sold elsewhere in the world under different names. In the case of the Altro, it's actually designed in Italy by one of the country's largest PC suppliers, Olidata, using the brand name U Leader Design.

A quick glance at the Advent Altro should certainly give you double-take déjà vu. It's the closest imitation we've seen yet of the MacBook Air, an unashamed clone of Apple's headline-catching thin'n'light ultraportable. Only here, the Advent Altro is built down to a price to tempt those drawn to Apple's original design but who find the four-figure price a little rich.

In fact, the Advent Altro is almost half the price of the cheapest Air, making it a tempting proposition for any laptop bargain hunters looking for an affordable silvery thin notebook. It has the same limited storage capacity at 120GB, but more RAM, not to mention more connection options once the supplied expansion dongle has been hung off the back.

Plug in this widget and you'll have two extra USB, ethernet and VGA video. Leave it at home and you get just the built-in selection of one USB, HDMI video and a headphone jack.

Read more reviews at Laptop Advisor

Many of the styling touches of the Air are echoed here, albeit somewhat distorted and in chintzy materials. Instead of a lightweight carved aluminium shell, the Advent Altro uses painted plastic. The keyboard has a similar Scrabble-tile look but loses out on ambient backlighting and the precision feel.

A shiny trackpad provides some multi-touch control for pinch zooming and two-finger scrolling, and there's also a fingerprint reader included between separate left/right click buttons.

In size, U Leader Design's photocopier must have been misaligned; Altro and Air are both 227mm deep but the Advent Altro is 10mm wider and 3mm thicker at the widest.

The Advent Altro feels much thicker, though, due to the chunkier rear end. And despite using plastic for its chassis, the Advent Altro is almost a third of a kilo heavier. Picking up an Advent Altro is not as effortless as a MacBook Air, hindered further by its back-heavy balance. You'll also have to contend with a screen that disconcertingly wobbles everytime you move it.

NEXT PAGE: How the Advent Altro performed in our benchmark tests >>


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