10 April 2009

Mead Advance Notebook Review

The Advance notebook is the latest notebook from Mead that offers a soft touch grip, unique color patterns, and compatibility for multiple working environments. The Advance has a revolutionary cloth hinge for enhanced flexibility and long-term durability. To find out more about this new multi-function notebook from Mead, read our full review below.

Mead Advance Specifications:

* 300KB of writing storage
* Compatible with 3-ring multiple storage devices
* Includes business card holders
* Tablet pen holder on front cover
* SpiralGuard comfort grip
* Comes in six stylish colors
* Durable poly cover
* Warranty length varies depending on retailer
Build and Design
The Mead Advance notebook has a unique design with colorful artwork on the top and bottom cover. Mead offers six stylish color options for this notebook to easily match any personality or wardrobe. The innovative cloth hinge gives users a comfortable gripping surface for carrying the notebook around.

Build quality varies greatly between the exterior covers and the inner working surface. The outer poly covers offer water resistance and wipe-friendly surface for easy cleaning. The cloth hinge appears to resist water and stains to stay clean over a long period of time. One of our primary concerns is how fragile the inner surface of the notebook is, being very susceptible to stains from many chemicals spanning from ink to graphite powder. The papery medium tears easily and if it gets wet is almost always ruined.

The Advance was extremely durable in our drop tests, handling falls from 1 foot to 30 feet showing only minimal damage. It also offered a unique “glide-mode” to safely float down from tall structures.

The Mead Advance doesn’t offer a standard keyboard, but instead gives users a huge tablet writing surface. Pen input is excellent with the surface texture giving adequate traction that greatly resembles paper. Flex of the writing surface varies depending on if you are using it on a desk or your lap. On a hard desk surface the rigidity of the surface is so great that you could walk across it without any problems. If you were using it on your lap the notebook bends greatly, but the unique surface can handle extreme angles without distorting or cracking.

The display is similar to an eReader screen, viewable in many lighting conditions and very easy on the eyes. Colors vary depending on what you are working with, able to transition between color or black and white modes at the flip of a page. Viewing angles are some of the best we have ever seen, with no viewing distortion at steep vertical or horizontal angles. The viewing range was very interesting in that you can sometimes see letters or images from behind the display. The matte finish was sunlight readable with no glare visible even in extreme conditions.

Performance was excellent in the small range of activities the notebook could handle. Boot time is immediate, showing the idle desktop display as soon as you open the notebook. Shutdown times are the same, needing no waiting time before you close the cover and go. Stop-motion video capabilities were great, with no stuttering or pauses as long as your hand can keep up. Games like Tic-Tac-Toe or Connect-The-Dots ran at constant frame rates no matter what resolution the game was being played at. It was very easy to change between each mode by simply turning a page. The Advance offered removable storage but it was generally one-time use, not being able to be reconnected to the notebook without aftermarket hardware. All of our benchmarking software wasn’t able to run on the proprietary operating system, so we were not able to provide wPrime, PCMark05, or 3DMark06 benchmark results.

Ports and Features
No ports were found on the Mead Advance, greatly limiting future expansion and accessory compatibility. Even the MacBook Air offered more USB ports! External storage slots were limited to card holders inside the front cover and a universal pen holder. The holder worked with every pen we tested it with, including models from Wacom, Bic, Pilot, and Sharpie.

Heat and Noise
The Mead Advance offered excellent thermal performance, staying at room temperature throughout our battery of tests and benchmarks. The cooling system was also completely silent, perfect for use in a quiet classroom or meeting. The notebook also worked well in extreme environments like the cold of a freezer without affecting its performance.

Battery Life
Battery life was excellent on the Advance, with an almost-indefinite lifespan depending on use. During the review we never had to charge the notebook and even after the review was nearing completion the Advance was showing no signs of slowing down. This style of power offers many advantages, working in remote conditions or storing for long periods of time. This notebook easily beat all others that we have reviewed, shattering previous records.

The Mead Advance notebook proved to be very useful throughout our testing, offering some great features we don’t see on most units we review. The indefinite battery life meant we never had to keep the notebook tethered to a wall in meetings, airports, or classrooms. The sunlight readable viewing surface was easy to read in most lighting conditions and had better than perfect viewing angles. Durability was better than most rugged notebooks we have reviewed, suffering minimal damage from drops off rooftops or falling from a desk. Overall the possibilities are endless for the Mead Advance notebook, limited only by your imagination.


* Sunlight readable screen shows no glare in any situation
* Compatible with many forms of pen input
* Withstands drops even from tall buildings


* No USB ports ... or ports of any kind
* Inside surface easily stained by ink or graphite
* Flammable
* Removable storage not easily reattached

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