It’s almost 2019 and the laptop is a dying breed. Not literally. Sales are OK. The decline has slowed. What I mean is that there is a dearth of pure laptops. It seems like everything other than the lowest end is a hybrid or has a touchscreen or some gimmick. Not everyone needs gimmicks. Some of us just want a thin, fast, reliable laptop that won’t cost an arm and a leg.
Enter Avita. I first became aware of this upstart company at a press event, where I got to see their colorful LIBER line. Not yet out in the US, I was looking forward to eventually getting my hands on one of their lime green ones, personally. Instead, though, they sent me the Clarus—the Liber’s older, more business-like sibling.
Available in a silver aluminum body (black and gold coming soon), the Clarus might at first make you think of certain fruit based laptop. And in some ways, you’re not wrong. The screen bezel and hinge, for example, feel a lot like my old Macbook Pro. But the comparison falls apart with a closer look. Aside from the cute stylized “A” key, you get a massive touchpad. Seriously huge. You also get an on-switch that looks like it should be a fingerprint sensor but isn’t. Sorry, you’ll just need to remember your password.
In terms of ports, you get a single USB 3 on the left, while the right has a MicroSD, MiniHDMI, headphone jack, USB-C, USB 3, and A/C jack. Not terrible.
The 14″ 1080 display is glossy with wide angles. Colors look fine (although I didn’t watch a full movie on it). I read one review that claimed colors were washed out. Maybe it’s my eyes because I’m not seeing it. I would call the Clarus a slightly above mid-range screen experience.
In fact, “slightly above mid-range” is a great descriptor for the Clarus. Take the specs, for example: 7th Gen Intel Core i5, 128 GB SSD, 8 GB RAM? That’s the basics we expect on a Windows 10 machine. And that’s not a diss—it works fine. There’s no dedicated graphics card, so I wouldn’t suggest any heavy gaming here. I noticed the bottom case is secured with Torx screws and barely resisted the temptation to crack it open to see if the SSD and RAM were removable and upgradable. I do not recommend voiding your warranty to find out. Also, while rated for 10 hours, I felt like I was averaging 8 tops. I need to note that sometimes it seemed slow to charge.
Sounds damning, right? Normally I would be giving the Clarus a hard pass. But at the price range it’s at these aren’t deal breakers and they are offset by the lightweight (3.3 lbs, light for a 14”) and the 0.7” thickness. I also love the keyboard. Responsive, sensible layout (again, reminds me of my MBP), good travel. The only thing missing is backlighting. Also missing? Bloatware. There are a few game apps and a trial of Office (which I wrote this article in) and that’s it. No silly extra settings apps that duplicate what Windows 10 already does.
At the price range of $649, you could argue that the Clarus is outpriced by some of the flashier laptops I mention earlier in the article. Except that they are specifically not what someone who buys a Clarus is looking for. This is a laptop for someone who wants to just type and click, no touch, have specs they trust, and move on. This is, in short, a daily driver for the suit and tie set. Not flashy. For that, you can wait till the Liber gets here with the smaller screen and bigger SSD.
For a freshman product, the Clarus is very impressive. I really look forward to seeing what they bring to the table in the years to come.
Note: Avita sent me the Clarus to review. Also, I have successfully fought the urge to make an Evita pun in the article. You’re welcome.