The Best Notebook Deals
By Mike Wheeler
Most people find the task of buying a new portable PC a time-consuming chore, not helped by the huge number of choices out there. Price is always the key to these purchases. Sure, customers want to know about features such as the amount of RAM, storage, processor, number of ports, type of screen and the pre-installed programs it already has on board.
By Mike Wheeler
Most people find the task of buying a new portable PC a time-consuming chore, not helped by the huge number of choices out there. Price is always the key to these purchases. Sure, customers want to know about features such as the amount of RAM, storage, processor, number of ports, type of screen and the pre-installed programs it already has on board. Yet price will always win out. It is possible to marry the price and features to a degree that a customer can get a nice device that meets their needs. With that in mind, we’ve had a good look at each vendor and what they have to offer in the home portable PC market and decided which of their products we liked best with the criteria being what would suit the average family. Be aware that retailers such as Harvey Norman, JB Hifi, Bing Lee and Dick Smith are always running specials on laptops, especially older stock.
HP has been at the forefront of the PC revolution since Day One so it is of no surprise it has a large range of computers to choose from – those designed for high performance in the home, or work, as well as those that aren’t as highly specified. Of the numerous models available we’d go for the HP 2000-2d23TU notebook. It has a mid-range Intel Core i5 processor, which gives you enough power to get things done. It utilises the Windows 8 operating system and has a big 15.6-inch screen and 500GB of storage. Overall, a nice little unit that comes in at $799.
Dell was one of the bigger players in the computer market, and while it still has a presence, the likes of Sony, Samsung and ASUS have been making inroads. However, they are still popular amongst families and have a huge range available. We’d go for one of its Inspiron devices, in this case the 15R. This has the Windows 8 operating system and a 15.6-inch touchscreen, and comes with 750GB of memory. Unlike the HP, its processor is an Intel Core i3 – not quite as good specs, but nothing that the average person would notice. Dell’s online store will sell it to you at $899, but its RRP in stores starts at $1,099. Beware of vendors who use the term ‘starting at’ because that is a sure sign there are several specced devices for the same model.
Samsung has been making waves over the past couple of years, and not just in the PC market. They have been working hard at getting out gear with high-specs and good value. The company’s ATIV range is its latest and best in this category. We like the 15.6-inch Book 6, which is pretty light, has an Intel Core i5 processor and uses the Windows 8 operating system. It has nice lines, comes with a whopping 1TB of storage, complemented by 8GB of memory. It also has a 720HD webcam, and tonne of connectivity ports. You won’t get much change out of $1,200.
Toshiba may not hold its own against the big boys in the television market, but it more than does so in the portable PC laptop arena. The main bugbear with these guys is that there are literally too many to choose from…but we’ve done so anyway. While its Satellite range is particularly popular, we’ve chosen its Kira Ultrabook (PSU7FA-00Y00L model) as the go-to portable PC. It is a little bit pricey at $1,799, but it looks spectacular. It has a 13.3-inch touchscreen display with a very nice 2560 x 1440 resolution. It is fairly light and come with an Intel Core i5 processor and Windows 8 operating system. We are a little disappointed in the storage of only 256GB.
Sony is an interesting case in that in the past few years it has been struggling to make a profit in many aspects of its business – and when you look at its laptop range, it’s not hard to see why. Not because its laptops are not any good – far from it. They are highly specced. However, they are also highly priced. Value for money we’d go for its 13.3-inch Viao T Series 13. It has an Intel Core i5 processor, 13.3-inch Windows 8 touchscreen, a few ports for connectivity and 500GB of storage. It comes in at a costly $1,099, so while we do like it, we feel there should be some more treats under the hood to justify its RRP.
LG is just dipping its toes back into the laptop market after a sustained absence. The bad news there is only one laptop to choose from (plus two tab books, which don’t fit into this category). The good news it’s a pretty decent device. Called the Z360 it comes loaded with Windows 8, has a 13.3-inch screen with 1920 x 1080 resolution, and a somewhat disappointing 128GB solid state drive for storage. However it does have a more-than-reasonable Intel Core i5 processor, an extensive number of ports and almost seven hours of battery life. You’ll need to shell out $1,399 to buy.
ASUS is the quiet achiever in the laptop market in that it has produced some nice units like it Taichi ultrabook. However we like the look of its VivoBook S500, which comes in at under $750. To be fair, it is the one with the Intel Core i3 processor instead of the i5 or i7, but you get 500GB of storage, 4GB of memory and a 15.6-inch screen running Windows 8. We would have liked a couple more ports and a slightly higher screen resolution, but for its price point it’s hard to get too upset.
Fujitsu has a huge number of devices in this series designed for both work and play and somewhere in between. Overall we feel there is nothing in its current line up worth a look – too overpriced and specifications are all over the place.
Like Fujitsu, Acer has a whole range of computers whose configurations vary so much that they’ll end up confusing a lot of people. Unlike Fujitsu though, Acer does have some good models. We’d go for the E1 notebook. Even though it doesn’t have brilliant specs (an Intel Core i3 processor, 4GB of memory, 500GB hard drive), it does have a good price coming in at $549. The screen is reasonably big at 15.6 inches, and it has the latest Windows operating system.
And finally there is Apple. It would have to be the MacBook Air 13-inch, which comes in at $1,249. It has the latest 4th Generation Intel Core processor, quite a few ports, flash storage and like most laptops mentioned here wifi support. Probably its biggest asset though is the claim that its battery will last up to 12 hours. Where it is let down is its 128GB of storage – which is pretty average.