The affordables

Nandagopal Rajan        Print Edition: November 2012

The buzz these days is all about Ultrabooks. But the fact is that not everyone can spend over Rs 50,000 to buy one of these slim, lightweight devices. Most first time buyers have no choice but to choose a machine that is under Rs 35,000, many looking even further down. But are devices at that price point any good, especially when compared to the style and power of the Ultrabook?

Well, to start with, most of them have processing power at a par with entry-level Ultrabooks, and the latter costs more because they owe their light weight to expensive solid-state drives. While all affordable laptops have hard disk drives (HDD) that are cheap but bulky, the fact is that the latest breed of Ultrabooks too is opting for HDDs for added storage. However, the difference will be stark as far as battery life and screen resolution are concerned. You can forget the 10-hour battery life promised by Ultrabooks if you are buying something cheaper. About four hours of juice would be considered great in this range. Similarly, Ultrabooks are likely to have much superior screens. Many of the affordable laptops keep their prices low by not offering Windows, coming loaded instead with DOS or Linux. Buyers will have to spend more to upgrade to Windows. Generally, AMD processors are also cheaper than Intel ones.

But the fact remains that all these hardly make a difference for entry- or mid-level users who are on a tight budget. For them, the best spec on a device is value for money. And there are many laptops that give you the best possible specs and user experience for under Rs 35,000.

Rs 30,000 to Rs 35,000

Price: Rs 34,490
With a 14-inch screen and a 3rd Gen Intel Core processor, the Inspiron 14R is a powerful option for users who also need a bit of style with usability. The device can be scaled up to 8GB RAM at an additional cost. It can also be a very good entertainment laptop thanks to the quality of the screen and the HDMI option. Plus this Dell device comes with a one-year complete cover accidental damage protection with premium phone support.

Specs: Windows 7 Home Basic 64bit; 4-inch HD WLED True-Life (1366x768); Intel Core i3-3110M (3M Cache, 2.3 GHz); 2GB 1 DDR3; 320GB HDD; Intel HD graphics 4000; DVD+/-RW; 2.29 kg.

Price: Rs 35,018
This Acer machine is very powerful, though you will get only a Linux version within the price limit. But since a lot of people will be happy with that as well as the 3rd gen Intel Core processor, LED screen and Dolby audio, we could not leave this one out.

Specs: Linux, 15.6-inch HD-LED backlit TFT LCD; Intel Core i5-3210M processor (3 MB L3 cache, 2.50 GHz with Turbo Boost up to 3.10GHz); 4 GB DDR3 RAM; 500 GB HDD; Intel HD graphics 4000; DVD Writer.

Price: Rs 34,490
If you need a larger screen size, then Inspiron 15 is a good option. The 15.6-inch widescreen HD display comes with matching Waves Maxx Audio 3. Then there is the 3rd Gen Intel Core processor for superb power. Complete cover accidental damage protection with premium phone support is included.

Specs: Windows 7 Home Basic 64 bit; 15.6-inch LED Backlit Display with True Life and HD resolution (1366 x 768); 3rd Generation Intel Core i3-3110M processor (3M Cache, 2.30 GHz); 4GB 1 DIMM DDR3 1600Mhz; 500 GB HDD; Intel HD Graphics 4000; DVD drive; 2.4 kg.

Price: Rs 31,990
This E series laptop is cheaper than others because it has an older 2nd gen Intel Core processor. That does not in any way mean that the processing power is inferior. The E series also features high audio quality with "xLOUD" and "Clear Phase" technology to complement the 15.5-inch screen. Despite being a slightly bulky laptop, this one boasts a rapid wake and eco mode with longer battery life.

Specs: Windows7 Home Basic; 15.5 wide (1366 x 768) TFT display; Intel i3-2370M Processor (2.40 GHz); 4 GB DDR3 RAM; Intel HD graphics 3000; 320 GB HDD; DVD SuperMulti Drive; 2.7 kg.



Rs 34,750
SPECS: Windows 7 Home Basic; 15.6-inch (1366 x 768) HD 200 Clear SuperView LED backlit TFT; Intel Core i5 2450M; 4 GB DDR3; Intel HD graphics; 500 GB HDD; DVD SuperMulti Drive; 2.3 kg.

Rs 34,990
SPECS: Windows 7 Home Basic; 15.6-inch (1366 x 768) LED backlit screen; Intel Core i3 2328M; 2GB RAM; Intel HD graphics 3000; 500GB HDD; 3 yr free McAFee Antivirus; 9-in-1 card reader.

Rs 20,000 to Rs 30,000
At this price range, you get smaller screen sizes and AMD processors. Some manufacturers also load the machines with Linux instead of Windows. Some of these can be classified as netbooks as they don't have optical drives.

HP DM1-4003AU
Price: Rs 25,131
The HP DM1 is a device meant for the Generation Y crowd and has been priced in such a way that even students can afford it. To achieve a lower price point, HP has used the cheaper AMD APU Dual Core processor. Plus ots has a smaller 11.6-inch screen which along with the 1.6 kg weight makes it makes it ideal for youngsters. Then there is Beats Audio to add to the entertainment quotient of the device. But its petite size means there is no DVD drive.

Specs: Windows 7 Home Basic; 11.6-inch (1366 x 768) HD LED Brightview display; APU Dual Core E-450 (1.65 GHz); 2 GB DDR3; 320 GB HDD; AMD Radeon HD 6320 graphics; 3 USB; 1.6 kg.

Price: Rs 27,990
Another AMD device, this one too features an 11.6-inch screen and Windows. Being a Vaio this is a stylish device and by no means an under performer. The xLOUD audio with Clear Phase should have a lot of young buyers interested.

Specs: Windows 7 Home Basic 64 bit; 11.6 wide (1366x768) TFT colour display; AMD E2-1800 Accelerated Processor (1.7GHz); 2 GB DDR3 SDRAM; 320 GB; AMD Radeon HD 7340 graphics; USB 2.0 X2; USB 3.0 x 1; 1.5 kg.

Price: Rs 20,444
The Aspire One has always been one of the popular netbook brands, though the netbook itself is losing popularity. This 11.6-inch device gives the best value for money among netbooks.

Specs: Windows 7; 11.6-inch HD (1366 x 768) Acer CineCrystal LEDbacklit TFT LCD; AMD C-Series processor C-60 (1 GHz); 2 GB DDR3 RAM; 320 GB HDD; ATI Radeon HD 6290 graphics; 3 x USB ports.

Price: Rs 23,000
The C850's cheaper price has a lot to do with the older Intel Pentium Dual Core processor on which it runs. However, this 15.6-inch device offers functionality with stylish design for those who cannot afford to spend more. You will, however, have to pay extra for the OS or get Linux. A Microsoft Windows 7 Home Basic will cost you Rs 5,777 more.

Specs: No OS; 15.6 inch (1366 x 768) high-definition clear superview LED backlit display; Pentium Dual Core (2nd Generation B950 2.1GHz); 2 GB DDR3; 320 GB HDD; Intel HD graphics; DVD RW SuperMulti Drive with Dual Layer Support; 1 x USB 3.0; 2 x USB 2.0, 2.3 kg.

Price: Rs 29,868
This large screen option comes with a Linux OS, but compensates with the latest Intel 3rd Gen processor and 500 GB storage.
Specs: Linux; 15.6-inch HD-LED backlit TFT LCD; Intel Core i3-3110M; 4 GB DDR3 RAM; 500 GB HDD; Intel HD graphics; DVD writer; USB x 3.

Price: Rs 28,581
Another stylish looking Linux device, but with 2nd Gen Intel core processor and 15.6-inch screen.
Specs: Linux; 15.6-inch HD (1366 x 768) Gateway Ultrabright LED-backlit TFT LCD; Intel Corei3 2370; 2 GB DDR3; 320 GB HDD; Intel HD graphics 3000; DVD RW, Multi-card reader.

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