‘What’s In Your Backpack?’–this line sounds a bit familiar, doesn’t it? Yeah, it’s that signature dialogue from George Clooney ‘Up in the Air’, movie in which he plays the role of Ryan Bingham, a corporate downsizer who spends around 320 days of a year traveling. And as you might recall, he sets himself a personal life goal of reaching ten million frequent flyer miles with American Airlines!
Well, for those of you who are regularly away from home on official trips, Clooney’s character would certainly be one to easily relate to–purely on the afore-mentioned aspects! And just like Bingham, a laptop is a must-to-have item in your backpack, isn’t it?
How wonderful then if your notebook makes your life easier on the move, by being lightweight, durable, powerful, feature-rich and offering a good battery life! And that’s why we have compiled a list of five of the best travel-friendly laptops for business users that are currently available in India.
What you get: If you are looking for a laptop that is muscular and durable–yet ultraportable and feature-rich at the same time–the Lenovo ThinkPad X201 is a worthy candidate. Weighing only 1.7kg (excluding the AC adapter) and measuring 11.6 x 10.1 x 1.3 inches (width x depth x height), this notebook offers pretty good battery life–thanks to its 6-cell Lithium-Ion battery.
The laptop sports a 12.1-inch TFT screen that renders a resolution of 1280 x 800 pixels. Unlike many notebooks whose keyboards flex (when a key is pressed, the areas surrounding it sink in as the board is not 100% rigid), this Lenovo ThinkPad device come with a really user friendly keyboard, with no flex at all. Plus, the keys are easy to hit, with large sized Shift and other crucial keys provided. The touch pad surface of the notebook is pretty slick and accurate.
The Lenovo ThinkPad X201 is powered by an integrated (processing and graphics) Intel Core i5-450M Processor (2.40GHz, 1066MHz) that ensures fast system performance. Based on the Windows 7 Professional 32 operating system, this machine gives you a 320GB hard disk drive and 4GB of 1066MHz DDR2 memory. Expect a three-year warranty for the system components (one year for battery).
The laptop is loaded with a host of proprietary software and support tools by Lenovo, including an interface called ‘ThinkVantage’–which acts as a one-stop access to security and diagnostic applications; all you need to do is to click on a dedicated blue button just above the keyboard.
A preinstalled ‘Fingerprint Reader’ app should soothe your concerns regarding your laptop’s security. Wireless connectivity comes in the form of support for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Version 2.1 + EDR.
Our take: The 12.1-inch Lenovo ThinkPad X201 delivers almost the same performance as a mainstream 15-inch laptop, thanks to its powerful CPU. Add its super-thin design, sturdy construction, excellent battery life and ultraportability to the mix, and you have got pretty much the perfect compact mid-size notebook for business travelers. For sure, spending Rs. 68,700 on this one won’t be a case of money going the train!
Model: ThinkPad X201
Price: Rs. 68,700
What you get: If your definition of a great ultraportable laptop includes the style factor (apart from the customary prerequisites such as weight, battery life, performance, etc.), then the VAIO VGN-Z56GG/B perfectly fits the bill.
Featuring a scrabble-tile keyboard, this little beauty–only 33mm thick and weighing just around 1.48kg, you see–has a spacious, roomy layout and offers responsive keys which make typing a real pleasure. While the VGN-Z56GG/B feels skeletal, it’s sturdier than it appears on the outside–with its hollow chassis coping up well (no downtime) against the usual rigors of a typical commute.
You get a 13.1-inch TFT color screen (1600 x 900 pixel resolution), which offers top-notch brightness and color reproduction. Users will find a webcam that renders an effective resolution of 640 x 480 pixels.
Offering a battery life of 5 hours, this light Sony laptop is powered by a super-fast 2.8GHz Intel Core 2 Duo P9700 processor and a discrete NVIDIA GeForce 9300M GS graphics processing unit. To ensure optimized system performance, there are two modes–Stamina and Speed–which can be swapped by clicking a switch above the keyboard. While the Speed mode puts the Nvidia graphics card to work, the Intel chip takes over under the Stamina setting.
Running on Windows 7 Professional 64-bit OS, the VAIO VGN-Z56GG/B boasts a 320GB hard disk drive and 6GB of DDR3 memory. And for those love their CDs and DVDs on the move, there is an optical drive as well! Connectivity options include integrated Wi-Fi. To make sure all your data remains private, Sony has bundled a fingerprint reader into the laptop, too.
Our take: The Sony VAIO VGN-Z56GG/B is an excellent blend of gorgeous looks, portability, longevity and fantastic performance–quite simply, the perfect all-round laptop to be your companion on the move at a not so affordable price of Rs. 99,990 in India.
Model: VAIO VGN-Z56GG/B
What you get: The Apple MacBook Air is a fully functional ultraportable that is lightweight (1.35kg), small, thin–and a design statement–all rolled into one laptop.
Measuring an unbelievable 1.875cm at its thickest point, this device runs on Apple’s OSX 10.6 operating system. You will find an evenly lit 13.3-inch glossy LED screen (1280 x 800 pixel resolution) fully equipped to play high-definition content in both 720p and 1080p resolution.
Typing on the MacBook Air’s isolated, backlit, chiclet-styled full-sized keyboard is a delight. Keyboard illumination and screen brightness are automatically adjusted by an ambient light sensor. The whole unit is encased in a super-light aluminum chassis.
Unlike high-end ultraportables which fare poorly on the performance front by incorporating ultra-low voltage processors but the MacBook Air doesn’t compromise on enabling easy multitasking–by using a 2.13GHz Intel Core 2 Duo CPU and dedicated Nvidia GeForce 9400M graphics card.
Users can expect a 2GB DDR2 RAM, a 128GB solid-state hard drive and an 8x dual-layered external DVD burner called SuperDrive. Connectivity options include Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. Expect a battery life of 4 hours and 20 minutes.
However, in its endeavor to be as slim as it is, the MacBook Air suffers from substantial constraints on the question of interfaces. While we get an audio socket, a mini DisplayPort and one USB port, there are no plug-in options for HDMI, Multicard Reader or ExpressCard Slot!
Another glaring lacuna is that the MacBook Air can accommodate only one USB connected device at any given time–unless, of course, one deploys a USB hub.
Our take: Apart from rectifying the glaring omissions in its connectivity-port feature, the MacBook Air can do well to improve its aluminum body which gets quite warm after extended usage.
But, overall, we have to say that the MacBook Air is well worth its price of Rs. 1,12,000 price tag in India for a business traveler–given its stunningly slim design, ultra-light weight, robust build, very powerful processors and a host of top-notch features. The Macbook Air may not be top-of-the-mind for most, if you are a Mac fan and a a businessman who spends most of his time in the air and in hotel rooms, this is definitely the laptop you should be looking at!
Model: MacBook Air
Price: Rs. 1,12,000
What you get: Enterprise users on the lookout for a rugged laptop will find their travel mate in the Panasonic CF-C1, which combines a tough chassis with portability and long battery life.
Part of Panasonic’s Toughbook series of laptops, the CF-C1 is encased in a magnesium alloy chassis–one of the thickest shells in its class–making it capable of sustaining pressure of up to 100kg force. To lend further credence to its resistance and strength capabilities, it’s claimed that the notebook can survive falls of up to 76cm!
Tipping the scales at approximately 1.47kg, the laptop, which has a dimension of 299.2 x 226.5 x 44.3mm (W x D x H), is hardly noticeable on your shoulder. Users get a 12.1-inch TFT touchscreen that renders a resolution of 1280 x 800 dots.
The CF-C1 is powered by a 2.4GHz Intel Core i5-520M vPro processor and an integrated Intel GMA 4500MHD GPU. The system is based on Windows 7 Professional operating system, and has a 250GB hard drive. Expect 2GB of DDR3 SDRAM.
One can wirelessly access a local area network on the laptop. Interface options include 3 USB2.0 sockets; 1 LAN port; 1 external display dock; 1 microphone port and a headphone jack.
The notebook has two battery bays (7.4V Li-ion battery) which promise an operating time of nearly 10 hours when used simultaneously–expect a battery life of about 5 hours for a single battery.
Our take: Granted, the Panasonic CF-C1 doesn’t exactly come cheap with a price tag of Rs. 1,22,000 in India, but then it more than justifies its hefty price tag by offering durability, a powerful Core i5 CPU, a multitouch hybrid display and portability–all in a rugged chassis. This machine easily finds its way into the list of laptops for business travelers.
Price: Rs. 1,22,000
What you get: The Dell Adamo XPS is aimed at those who are ready to pay premium prices for a laptop offering an ultra-slim chassis and innovative design, while being content with getting basically the same components as lower-cost notebooks.
You will find the conventional laptop design getting tweaked in the 13-inch Adamo XPS, where the keyboard is fitted inside the reinforced screen when closed and vital components are relocated. However, the device, when closed, appears like a 14- or 15-inch notebook!
Measuring 340 x 273.9 x 9.99 mm (W x D x H), this outrageously thin laptop sports a 13.4-inch display (1366 x 768 pixels) having an aspect ratio of 16:9. The screen supports high-definition viewing at 720p.
Weighing only 1.44kg (including a standard 20Whr battery), the ultra high-end device gives you an integrated 2-megapixel webcam and a built-in mono digital microphone.
A 1.4GHz Intel Core2 Duo ULV processor and an integrated Intel GS45 graphics card (256MB shared memory), driving this laptop, should suffice for daily multitasking. However, don’t expect the Dell Adamo XPS’s performance to match up to those of notebooks powered by Intel’s current generation of Core-series CPUs.
Other salient hardware specifications include a 128GB solid state hard drive and 4GB DDR3 SDRAM. Based on Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit OS, this Dell notebook supports Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 2.1. While one finds 2 USB 2.0 jacks and a headphone connector, there is no SD card slot. A preloaded Li-ion battery, when fully charged, can last up to 2 hours 36 minutes.
Our take: The Dell Adamo XPS will disappoint those who are looking for a portable laptop with a good battery life. But if you are willing to ignore that blemish, its superslim chassis and inventive design makes this lightweight Dell showpiece a real conversation starter albeit at not too insubstantial price of Rs 1,50,000 in India. Pricey it might be, but this laptop definitely deserves its place in this list of top laptops for the business traveler.
Model: Adamo XPS
Price: Rs 1,50,000