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The Avita Liber 12.5 is designed solely for those seeking style and portability in their laptop. While the compact colourful laptop’s build and display are up to the mark, other finer details like touchpad and sound quality go amiss.
Visit any electronics store and the names that catch your eye in the PC section will be ones you’ve seen and heard of before—Apple, Dell, Lenovo, HP, and a few more. This is the case ninety-five percent of the time. Right now, however, we’re living a rare moment because we’re not just seeing not just a new laptop model but a new laptop make in the market. The name is Avita and it’s a US-based lifestyle tech brand launched a couple of months ago by Hong Kong-based laptop manufacturer Nexstgo.
Avita’s first product in India is Liber, a range of Thin and Light laptops whose name stands for ‘free’ or ‘unrestricted’ in Latin. Available in three sizes (12.5, 13.3, and 14 inches) and up to fourteen colour options, the Avita Liber is unmistakably reminiscent of Sony Vaio and Dell Studio models of the past. They’re all powered by an Intel 7th Gen processor and are priced between Rs 27,990 and Rs 83,990.
The unit we’ve got for review is the Avita Liber 12.5 in Peacock Green. As you might have guessed by now, it has a 12.5-inch display with Full HD resolution. It’s thin, light, compact, and is powered by an Intel 7th Gen Core i5 processor with 8GB of RAM. Let’s see how it did in our review
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According to the company’s product page, the Avita Liber 12.5 has a “silky metallic” body that’s 5mm thick at its slimmest point. In our view, the top, base, sides, and the area around the keyboard bear a smooth matte green finish that’s pleasant to the eye and touch. The laptop’s body feels both light and grippy in the hands, making it an ideal companion for hopping between conference rooms and airport lounges. It can easily be carried around in one hand without any fear of dropping. At the same time, its carefree colour options make it a suitable lifestyle accessory.
Opening the display with the push of just one finger is a difficult task as the hinge is quite tight. On the bright side, the tightness ensures that there’s no unwanted shaking about when the laptop is used in a moving vehicle. Sadly, the display does not fold all the way back, limiting the hinge angle to a maximum of about 135 degrees. Haters of display bezels will not appreciate the fairly thick glossy black borders around the 12.5-inch screen. On the positive side, the display shows no sign of flex in any region.
Scanning the area below the display reveals a keyboard area in the same colour as the rest of the body—touchpad and power button included. Speaking of power button, it turns the computer on only when you press and hold it for a couple of seconds, which can be confusing at first but helpful against accidental presses. Only the keys on the keyboard and the fingerprint scanner are in dull black. On paper and in the hands, the Avita Liber 12.5 seems to have a sturdy build and fashionable design that should stand the test of time.
All three models of the Avita Liber (12.5-inch, 13.3-inch, and 14-inch) come with a Full HD IPS LCD screen. The screen on the review unit appeared to deliver rich colours and sufficient brightness without any unwanted saturation or light bleed. Our colorimeter showed that it was capable of reproducing a staggering 100 percent of the colours in the sRGB colour scale and a respectable 79 percent of the colours in the Adobe RGB colour scale.
While the screen seemed bright enough for sunny areas like balconies, its glossy finish often caught the reflection of overhead lights in conference rooms, making reading (and overall viewing against black backgrounds) a bit difficult. In summary, the display on the Avita Liber 12.5 surprisingly surpasses the quality of displays found on most other Thin and Light laptops in its price range. Well done, Avita.
The Avita Liber 12.5 uses two down-firing speakers for audio output, which, by the way, are comfortably ensconced behind speaker holes that resemble an equaliser graph in design. At full volume, sound from the two tiny drivers is dull and muffled at best. When I played James Blake’s Radio Silence at full volume in front of my colleagues, where I could hear the sound of at least five computer keyboards in operation, I could barely the vocals. Any sign of bass output was non-existent; music sounded completely flat. If you crave good audio quality, you’ll want to get yourself a good portable Bluetooth speaker with this tiny machine.
The IO department is where the Avita Liber 12.5 disappoints everyone greatly. This green little device has one USB Type-C port (with no support for Thunderbolt 3), a 3.5mm audio jack for headsets, and a round-pin power port—that’s it. The only saving grace is the bundled dongle accompanying the laptop; it supports one USB-A port, USB-C port, and a full-size HDMI port. Unlike most other Thin and Lights in the same price range, the Avita Liber 12.5 forgoes essential ports for a few more millimetres of thickness.
After a couple of weeks of typing on the review unit of the Avita Liber 12.5, I wasn’t left with positive feelings about its keyboard. While the soft black keys have ample travel (given the slimness of the laptop’s body), they lack the right amount of resistance required. At no point during the stroke of any key can you tell that it has reached its actuation point. This makes it hard to register keystrokes in a hurry. Still, it’s not something you can’t get used to. What adds to the problem is the overall small size of the keycaps, which makes aiming and striking hard while typing fast.
Not only does the keyboard fall short in quality of operation, but it also displays amateurish design. The dull white letters on the black keys are barely visible whether it’s bright or dark, day or night. The single-stage backlighting, which takes a while to kick in after the first keystroke, makes very little difference in dimly lit rooms. Most of the time I was straining my eyes to hit the right keys on the review unit. Luckily, essential combination keys on the top row were placed close to the Function key, making volume and display brightness control easier. Though I appreciate Avita for its sincere attempt, I feel it can work towards a better keyboard design.
The touchpad is the only visibly unique element in the Avita Liber 12.5, and sadly, it’s a big flop. Avita has blessed the Liber 12.5 with an unnaturally wide touchpad in the name of “freedom” and all that, but has failed to execute it well on the firmware side. Despite being recognised as a precision touchpad by Windows 10, the obnoxiously wide touchpad unit on the Liber translates movements of the finger on the touchpad surface inaccurately and inconsistently on the screen.
Though by a small margin, the pointer often moves vertically when, in reality, a horizontal stroke is made on the touchpad surface and vice versa. Clicking or tapping on any part of the touchpad often results in unintended movements of the mouse pointer. This, in particular, became a big nuisance on the review unit while opening files in File Manager or web links in Chrome. What’s more, the real speed of the mouse pointer is slow even when the speed is set to maximum in Windows’ Settings and Mouse Options. In other words, if you’re a power user you’ll want to get yourself a mouse to be productive but to connect even that, you’ll need to fetch that dongle.
The 13.3-inch and 14-inch variants of the Avita Liber offer CPU options from as low as Intel 7th Gen Celeron N3350 to as high as Intel 7th Gen Core i7. The Avita Liber 12.5, on the other hand, gets just one CPU option: Intel 7th Gen Core i5-7Y54. At a time when new laptops and desktops have already started to roll out with Intel’s 9th Gen Core series CPUs, the Avita Liber cuts a sorry figure with its dated Intel 7th Gen models. And its rather heavy price tag of Rs 67,190 only adds to the feeling of injustice.
The review unit’s Intel 7th Gen Core i5 CPU came paired with 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SATA-based solid-state drive. Rendering graphics was handled by an Intel internal graphics cards. On our standard benchmark tests, the staleness of the laptop’s powertrain showed through. The Avita Liber 12.5 scored 2191 on PCMark 8’s Accelerated Creative test. In comparison, the similarly priced HP Pavilion x360 convertible laptop from last year scored 4709 on the same test. The laptop continued to fare underwhelmingly through other benchmark tests like 3DMark and PCMark 10. On CrystalDiskMark, our storage speed test, the Avita’s sequential read-write speed was somewhat close to that of the Acer Swift 5 and Asus ZenBook S but still not quite up there.
On the bright side, the review unit of the Avita Liber 12.5 displayed decent-to-good performance in everyday usage scenarios. Apart from a few occasional stutters in animation (especially while switching windows and desktops), the compact lightweight laptop ran many instances of common applications like Chrome without any fuss. It switched between apps like OneNote and WhatsApp for PC quite easily. It was even able to run monitoring tools like Screaming Frog’s SEO Spider Tool without any hiccups. Interestingly, the temperature of the CPU package never rose above 55 degrees Celsius; that’s probably because Avita capped the top clock speed of the CPU. In summary, the performance of the Avita Liber 12.5 won’t be something you’ll complain about if you buy it for everyday computing activities like document editing, web browsing, and online video playback. Just don’t go installing video games on it, is all.
The Avita Liber 12.5 comes with a 27.8Wh non-removable internal lithium-ion battery, which, the company claims, is good for up to 8 hours of use on a single charge. On our standard battery benchmark test, the Avita Liber 12.5 scored 3 hours, 37 minutes, which is not too shabby. In comparison, the Asus ZenBook S scored about 15 minutes more, and the HP Pavilion x360, about 25 minutes lesser.
In everyday usage scenarios, the Avita Liber 12.5 review unit lasted for an average of about 4 to 5 hours on a single charge. With Wi-Fi and Bluetooth enabled, screen brightness set to 60 percent, at least ten instances of Chrome open on the laptop, I saw the battery fall from 98 to 20 percent in a little under five hours. When I plugged in the charger, I was shocked to notice that charging back to full took close to five hours almost every single time.
It’s quite evident that newcomer Avita is placing great emphasis on style and portability with the Liber series. Sadly, it has had to compromise on a few non-essential aspects of the Liber 12.5 to keep the price under Rs 70,000. The lack of an updated Intel processor and fast-charging technology for the battery serves as the biggest example of that and is observable in everyday usage scenarios. Luckily, it gets the essential aspects like performance and display quite right.
The Avita Liber 12.5 is for you if you are not a power user of your laptop; instead you use your laptop occasionally to check emails, edit some documents, and play a handful of videos on YouTube and Netflix. The lack of IO ports around the sides doesn’t bother you because you’re too busy feeling absolutely chuffed that the colour of your laptop matches the colour of your brand new luggage for overnight journeys.