Tech Tonic reviews and recommends notebook PCs costing around 35,000, for gaming, portability and general computing.
The HP Pavilion G6-2101TU fits the bill. During our use, we found it to be pretty fast in launching programs, packing and unpacking Zip files, and multi-tasking. At the moment, it is one of the few mainstream laptops in this price range to be powered by the new 3rd-generationIntel Core i processors. It has average battery life, lasting almost four hours of continuous FullHD video playback.
What we like: The 3rd gen Core i3 processor is great for an all-purpose machine. It can even run demanding 3D games like Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 at low graphics settings. Plus, there is ample storage on offer and lots of connectivity options. Sound output from in-built Altec Lansing speakers is loud and clear. The screen is bright and renders colours well. Of course, like most other laptops, the viewing angles are bad.
What we don't like: In its default configuration, the laptop comes with just 2GB RAM. But users can add upgrade to 4GB for another 1,000. While 2GB RAM is sufficient at the moment for normal use, we would recommend the upgrade to futureproof your purchase.
The keys are too small for such a big laptop. They also feel as if they are made from cheap plastic, making typing an unpleasant experience. While the trackpad is responsive, the left- and right-click buttons are too stiff.
Alternatives: In case you want more RAM and a better CPU, take a look at the Lenovo Essential G580 ( 34,500 approx) or the Samsung NP300E5X-A01IN ( 33,500 approx). Both are powered by the 3rd gen Intel Core i5 3210M processor.
While we haven't reviewed these, in our experience, Lenovo laptops have very good keyboards. The Samsung machine claims a better battery life, but again, we haven't tested it ourselves. However, both notebooks come with DOS, so you may have to either run a Linux OS like Ubuntu or spend a few thousand rupees on Windows.
SPECS: 15.6-inch screen (1366x768) | 2.4 GHz dual-core Intel Core i3-3110M CPU | 2GB RAM | Intel HD 4000 graphics | 500GB HDD | 8X DVD Burner | Wi-Fi, Bluetooth | 2xUSB3.0, 1xUSB2.0, Ethernet, HDMI, VGA ports | 1.3MP webcam, Altec Lansing Dolby Advanced audio, built-in mic | 2.47kg | 7 hours of average use (some work, web browsing and multimedia) |Windows 7 Home Basic (64-bit)
Price: Rs 35,000
The Gamer's Beast
The Acer V3-551G is powered by an AMD Radeon HD 7670M graphics card. This card works along with the secondary Radeon 7640G chip inside the main processor unit for even better graphics performance.
In our tests, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 ran at high quality settings, Crysis 2 at medium, and Battlefield 3 at low. To put it in perspective, the V3-551G will give a smooth gaming experience for most titles. But you may have to buy a mouse for a more fulfilling experience.
What we like: Never before have we seen such good gaming performance from a notebook that is priced so low. The build quality of the laptop is very good. It's all glossy plastic but it feels sturdy, and the keys feel nice too.
What we don't like: The battery life is below average. The V3-551G lasted a little over 3 hours of continuous FullHD video playback. The buttons on the trackpad wobble, making them feel low quality. The AMD processor, despite being quad-core, is not as fast and responsive as Intel's dual-core 3rd-gen Ivy Bridge CPUs. During gaming, the left side of the laptop gets too hot, especially where the keyboard is.
Alternatives: For this budget, the Acer V3-551G is as good as it gets for a gaming laptop. If you don't want Acer, take a look at the HP Pavilion G6-2005AX ( 34,600 approx), which has virtually the same hardware. If you can up your budget to around 40,000, the Lenovo Ideapad Z580 ( 40,000 approx) is a good option, touting an Ivy Bridge processor and Nvidia 630M graphics card. Its gaming performance is likely to be on par with the Acer V3-551G, but Lenovo will have better battery life.
SPECS: 15.6-inch screen (1366x768) | 1.9GHz quad-core AMD A8 4500M CPU | 4GB RAM | AMD Radeon HD 7670M + 7640G graphics | 500GB HDD | 8X DVD Burner | Wi-Fi, Bluetooth | 1xUSB3.0, 2xUSB2.0, Ethernet, HDMI, VGA ports | 1.3MP webcam, speakers with Dolby support, built-in mic | 2.6kg | 6 hours of average use (some work, web browsing and multimedia) | Windows 7 Home Basic (64-bit)
Price: Rs 34,600
One for the road
The lid of this elegant laptop is slightly shorter than the base. With all the sides sporting a rounded-off finish, the laptop is a comfortable fit in hand. This makes it quite easy to carry it around like a book, whether in college or into a meeting. The design, though, is marred by the protruding battery compartment.
What we like: We loved the build quality. Sony has refrained from using glossy plastic, which means it won't be a fingerprint-magnet. The keys feel good, and fast typists will appreciate the feedback they give. It played FullHD video continuously for almost 4 hours - one of the best we have seen on small laptops that cost under 35,000.
What we didn't like: The screen is quite poor. We expected viewing angles to be bad, but the low brightness is unforgivable. It's fine for browsing the web while finishing some work. But if you want to encode videos for your iPad while simultaneously working on a Power-Point presentation, this isn't the laptop for you.
Alternatives: The screen is a big flaw in the Vaio. It isn't a deal-breaker, but you might still want to consider a few alternatives, such as the HP Pavilion 4201AU ( 26,000 approx) and the Samsung NP305U1AA08IN ( 24,500 approx). Then there is the Asus U32U ( 27,990 approx) with a bigger 13.3-inch screen, but it's heavier and suffers a bit in battery life. It'll also be worth checking out the Lenovo Ideapad S300 ( 31,500 approx), which has a 13-inch screen and a more powerful 2nd-generation Intel Core i3 processor, making it a very good traveller's laptop.
SPECS: 11.6-inch screen (1366x768) | 1.7 GHz dual-core AMD E2-1800 CPU | 2GB RAM | AMD Radeon HD 7340M graphics | 320GB HDD | Wi-Fi, Bluetooth | 1xUSB3.0, 2xUSB2.0, Ethernet, HDMI, VGA ports | 1.3MP webcam, stereo speakers with xLoud volume booster, built-in mic| 1.5kg | 8 hours of average use (some work, web browsing and multimedia) | Windows 7 Home Basic (64-bit)
Price: Rs 27,500
Things to remember while buying
- The most important aspects in a laptop are keyboard, screen and build quality. Spend half an hour in a showroom with the laptop. Type 100-200 words to see if the keys feel right for you. Play a movie and a song to check the screen and audio quality. Finally, compare the laptop's plastic or metal quality to those of similarly-priced ones.
- Most machines that cost over 20,000 are fast enough to play FullHD videos, work on office documents, browse the web, edit photos and multi-tasking between these.
- For RAM, more is better. But don't worry too much about it because you can always add more RAM later.