What exactly makes for a great student laptop? Is it all about the looks, or the weight, or the display, or the performance (substance over style, as some might say), or the battery life, or something else? Well, the answer is a combination of all of these–not to forget the all-important price factor.
Here are, what we believe, some of the standout factors one should consider while deciding which student laptop to buy. The notebook should be attractive (yeah, looks do matter even for non-living objects!) and lightweight. A minimum RAM of 2GB and a hard disk capacity of 160GB are a must as well. Plus, the screen size should be somewhere between 13 to 15 inches. Features like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth should be built in to the notebook, and there should be sufficient number of ports. Last but not the least, a laptop having all these features should carry an affordable price tag.
We’ve compiled a list of the five best student laptops (priced less than Rs.40,000– just about, what we think, is the maximum you can squeeze out of your dad’s pocket for this indulgence!) currently available in India. And yes, there is a netbook thrown into the mix, to give you a cheaper buying option. Take your pick!
What you get: The Asus Eee PC 120IT, a netbook, is a great value-for-money device for those students who love their multimedia–be it audio (music), videos (movies, documentaries, etc.), graphics or animation.
The highlight of this Asus product is the preloaded ArcSoft SimHD–a plug-in which upscales most standard definition video content to high definition format. This feature allows users to enjoy their favorite multimedia content through the ArcSoft TotalMedia Theater, the universal high-definition multimedia player built into the netbook. You will find a 12.1-inch LED backlit widescreen display (aspect ratio of 16:9) that renders a HD resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels. Multiple interfaces–three USB 2.0 ports, one VGA port, one SD/MMC card reader, an Audio in and Audio out port–should come in handy. A 0.3-megapixel web camera with Zoom in/out function is there, too.
Sporting a glossy exterior and an ergonomic chiclet keyboard, the Asus Eee PC 120IT is powered by an AMD Congo MV40 CPU and RS780MN chipset. Expect a hard disk capacity of 320GB and a DDR2 random access memory of 800MB. This netbook supports Wi-Fi and Bluetooth for connectivity. The 6-cell Li-ion battery on this Asus laptop is touted to last up to 6 hours without charging.
Our take: While there is no HDMI port in this netbook and also the battery life isn’t that great, the Asus Eee PC 120IT, overall, is more than a decent buy for students. A large hard drive, a really good screen, an elegant keyboard, a gesture-enabled touchpad and robust performance–all for just Rs. 21,490, real good value for money, isn’t it?
Model: Eee PC 120IT
Price: Rs. 21,490
What you get: A top-notch keyboard-touchpad combo, coupled with excellent features for entertainment and multimedia, make the Lenovo IdeaPad Z460 a really attractive laptop for the Indian student.
Staying true to its predecessors in the IdeaPad series, the Z460, too, gives you a unique design and touch-sensitive controls. This trendy, smart looking device has a multitouch touchpad whose textured surface delivers great tactile feedback. On the keyboard, you will find chiclet-styled keys that are curved at the bottom and extremely user friendly from a typing point of view. A metal finish around the keyboard and palmrest gives a premium feel on touch.
Weighing 2.3kg (with the 6-cell 2.2A battery included), this Lenovo notebook comes with a 14-inch LED-backlit, glossy display that can support a screen resolution of up to 1366 x 768 pixels. Users can enjoy videochats, thanks to a 1.3-megapixel webcam placed on the laptop’s screen bezel.
Running on Windows Vista Premium OS and powered by Intel Core i3-370M processor, the Lenovo IdeaPad Z460 has a 500GB hard disk and 3GB DDR3 memory. A Multimedia center acts a one-point interface for playing CDs, DVDs, etc. Four built-in speakers and a sub-woofer are touted to deliver Dolby Home Theater audio experience. Expect three USB ports, including a hybrid eSATA port, one VGA port, Ethernet, multicard reader, audio jacks, and DVD writer. Connectivity options include Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and an ExpressCard slot on the notebook’s chassis. There is enough horsepower here for most uses faced by an Indian student, and then some.
Another highlight of the Lenovo IdeaPad Z460 is the host of preinstalled proprietary software it has. For example, a biometric face-recognition application called ‘VeriFace’ (aptly named, we must say) allows a user to log into your laptop only if it recognizes his face–and for the owner himself, no need to even enter any password! Similarly, a ‘One-button’ system recovery tool lets you take backup of your system data and recover the same to a previous stable state.
Our take: The Lenovo IdeaPad Z460, priced Rs. 33,890, gets a big thumbs-up from us, on pretty much everything–excellent support for multitasking, compatibility with high-definition content (in both 720p and 1080p format), trendy, smart look, and a really cool keyboard and touchpad.
Model: IdeaPad Z460
Price: Rs. 33,890
What you get: What is that sets apart the HP G42-356TU from the other laptops in this list, one might ask? Its features, you see. Measuring 34.2 cm x 22.8 cm x 3.15-3.65 cm (width x depth x height) and weighing 2.2kg, this notebook packs in a massive 500GB SATA hard Disk Drive alongside 4GB of DDR3 standard memory–with an option to expand it to up to 8GB through memory slots. A 2.4GHz Intel Core i3-370M processor ensures that you needn’t fret over the device’s performance ability.
Based on Windows 7 Home Basic 64-bit operating system, the HP G42-356TU comes with a 14-inch screen that renders a 1366 x 768 resolution and supports high-definition content viewing. Users will get a SATA optical drive, one VGA port, an HDMI dock, one stereo headphone-out port and three USB 2.0 jacks. You can wirelessly transfer audio files through Bluetooth. A built-in 5-in-1 integrated digital media reader is compatible with Secure Digital cards, MultiMedia cards, Memory Stick, Memory Stick Pro or xD Picture cards. There is a webcam with Integrated Microphone (VGA) as well.
And yes, the look-and-feel aspect, too, is pretty impressive–sporting a non-glossy design, this HP notebook has a 101 key compatible keyboard with home roll keys. Its touch pad (with integrated On/Off buttons and 2-way scroll pad support merges smoothly into the palmrest. Lovely.
One can realistically expect the 6-cell Lithium-Ion battery, present in the HP G42-356TU laptop, to support nearly 3 hours of Internet browsing over Wi-Fi.
Our take: While the lack of a dedicated graphics processor might disappoint some–particularly the hardcore gaming maniacs–the HP G42-356TU, priced Rs. 36,900, makes the cut when it comes to delivering excellent performance. It can handle all of your multitasking–audio, video, text-heavy editing documents, etc.–rather admirably. Overall, a compact, lightweight laptop with loads of features and one that performs well, too.
Price: Rs. 36,900
What you get: If you want your laptop to convey your sense of style and personality all around, then the Sony VPCEB12EN is the one to go in for. Part of Sony’s VAIO E Series, this beauty sports a white matte finish, with shiny particles accenting the palmrest.
Measuring 369.8 mm x 31.1-36.7 mm x 248.2 mm (width x depth x height) and weighing 2.7kg (including the supplied battery), the VPCEB12EN comes with a 15.5-inch display (16:9 aspect ratio) that delivers a 1366 x 768 resolution. Other salient specifications include a Windows 7 Home Basic (64-bit) operating system, an Intel Core i3-330M (2.13GHz) processor, a 320GB hard drive and 2GB DR3 RAM.
On the connectivity front, the Sony VPCEB12EN is compatible with wireless local area networks and Bluetooth v2.1+EDR. The keyboard, featuring 19mm full key pitch and numeric keypad, has a ‘Quick Web Access’ button for Internet surfing. Built-in stereo speakers and a DVD burner promise to enhance the multimedia experience. Apart from an eSATA port and two other USB 2.0 ports, there are one USB dock and an HDMI jack as well. Expect a webcam with microphone.
Our take: If you don’t mind shelling out a few thousand bucks extra, then the Sony VPCEB12EN–carrying a price tag of Rs.36,990 in India –will surely ensure bragging rights for you when it comes to deciding who has the most stylish laptop in campus.
What you get: Weighing pretty light at 1.95kg, the Dell Vostro 3300 is a compact, feature-rich laptop. Sporting an attractive design and an aluminum case, this device runs on Windows 7 Professional OS and is powered by Intel Core i5 processor. You can jack up the notebook’s performance capability for multimedia experience with an optional discrete graphics card.
Other standout features include a 13.3-inch antiglare VGA screen; an optional backlit, spill-resistant keyboard; gesture-enabled touchpad; up to 6GB of DDR3 memory; and a preloaded DVD writer. A built-in webcam and microphone will give you that extra zing when chatting online with your buddies.
Networking options include Wi-Fi, Ethernet, Bluetooth and modem. The Dell Vostro 3300 is equipped with2 USB 2.0, 1 USB 2.0/eSATA combo, SD card reader, but sadly–given the price tag it carries–doesn’t have an HDMI-out port! Another letdown is a pretty below-par battery life with the included 4-cell battery.
Our take: All in all, the Dell Vostro 3300 is a sleek, elegant laptop delivering pretty solid performance. Just be willing to stump up Rs.37,290!
Model: Vostro 3300
There you have our list of our favorite laptops for college or students in India. We will be bringing you a list of higher priced laptop for students soon; stay tuned!