The Affordables

Nandagopal Rajan        Print Edition: December 2012

The buzz these days is all about Ultrabooks. But not everyone can afford to spend Rs 50,000 or more to buy one. Most first-time buyers would have a budget of under Rs 35,000.

Are devices at that price point any good, especially in comparison? Well, to start with, most of them have processing power at par with entry-level Ultrabooks. However, the difference will be stark as far as battery life and screen resolution are concerned.

Also, many of the affordable laptops keep their prices low by not offering Windows, coming loaded instead with FREE DOS or Linux instead. Generally, AMD processors are also cheaper than Intel ones.

However, this hardly make any difference for entry- or mid-level users. For them, the best specification on a device is value for money.

IN THE RANGE OF RS 30,000-35,000

1. DELL INSPIRON 14R (Rs 34,490)

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

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. The RAM can be scaled up to 8GB for an additional cost. You don't have to worry about entertainment either-the quality of the screen and the HDMI option should cover it. Plus, this Dell device comes with a one-year complete cover of accidental damage protection with premium phone support.

2. ACER ASPIRE V3-571 (Rs 35,018)

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.

This Acer machine is very powerful, though you will get only a Linux version within the price limit. But then Ubuntu can do just about anything Windows can for the everyday user. As you will get the 3rd Gen Intel Core processor, LED screen and Dolby audio, we could not leave this one out of this list.

3. DELL INSPIRON 15 (Rs 34,490)

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 DIMM DDR3 1600MHz RAM; 500 GB HDD; Intel HD Graphics 4000; DVD drive; 2.4 kg.

If you need a larger screen size, 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 computing power. Complete cover of accidental damage protection with premium phone support is included.

4. VAIO E SERIES SVE15113ENB (Rs 31,990)

Specs: Windows 7 Home Basic; 15.5-inch (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.

This Sony is cheaper because it has an older 2nd Gen processor. This does not mean the processing power is inferior. It also features great audio quality with "xLOUD" and "Clear Phase" technology to complement the 15.5-inch screen. Despite being slightly bulky, it has the rapid wake and eco mode for longer battery life.

IN THE RANGE OF Rs 20,000-30,000

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.

1. HP DM1-4003AU (Rs 25,131)

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 x USB 2.0; 1.6 kg.

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, it has a smaller 11.6-inch screen, which, along with the 1.6 kg weight, makes it ideal for youngsters. Beats Audio adds to the device's entertainment quotient. However, its petite case allows no room for a DVD drive.

2. VAIO E SERIES SVE11115ENW (Rs 27,990)

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.

Another AMD device, this one also features an 11.6-inch screen and Windows. Being a Vaio, it is a very stylish device and, by no means, an underperformer. The xLOUD audio with Clear Phase should have a lot of young buyers interested in it.

3. ACER ASPIRE ONE 725 (Rs 20,444)

Specs: Windows 7; 11.6-inch HD (1366 x 768) Acer CineCrystal LED-backlit 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 2.0.

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.

4. TOSHIBA SATELLITE C850 - P5010 (Rs 23,000)

Specs: No OS; 15.6 inch (1366 x 768) HD 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.

The C850 is cheaper because it runs on the older Intel Pentium Dual Core processor. However, it offers functionality with stylish design for those who cannot afford to spend more. And you shouldn't if all you need is basic computing, such as surfing the Net. You will, however, have to pay extra for Windows or get Linux. Microsoft Windows 7 Home Basic will cost you Rs 5,777.

5. GATEWAY NE-56R (Rs 28,581)

Specs: Linux; 15.6-inch HD (1366 x 768) Gateway Ultrabright LED-backlit TFT LCD; Intel Core i3 2370; 2 GB DDR3; 320 GB HDD; Intel HD graphics 3000; DVD RW, Multi-card reader.

Another stylish looking Linux device, but with 2nd Gen Intel Core i3 processor and a 15.6-inch screen.

6. ACER ASPIRE E1-571 (Rs 29,868)

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; 3 x USB ports.

This large screen option comes pre-loaded with a Linux OS, but compensates with the latest Intel 3rd Gen processor and 500 GB storage.

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