4 Pentium M and Core Solo Notebooks

Feature Rich Notebooks

SHOOTOUT: Notebooks for Professionals

15 Notebooks under 65K

Shootout Product: Say No to Desktops

In August and September this year, we reviewed 34 notebooks, out of which 19 were dual core-indicating that dual cores are definitely 'in' amongst notebooks. With a number of executives deciding their notebook based on portability and the 'can it just do what I want it to do, without the burden of additional and rarely used features?' question, older generation systems like Centrino and Celeron/ Sempron based notebooks are continuing to be just as popular. Today single and dual core notebooks sell side-by-side with similar configuration and price points. Single cores are obviously not done yet-there are still a lot of applications they can handle smoothly without adding the burden of the extra core into the cost. Yet, single cores will gradually disappear over the next year or two, when more and more powerful applications hit the market demanding the computing prowess of more and more cores.

These notebooks are basic productivity models, with baseline feature sets-a Pentium M processor, on board graphics, 60 to 80 GB hard disks and a DVD writer. Interestingly, the DVD writers on board these notebooks are 'dual mode'. What that means is they can write both plus and minus format DVDs and not that they can do dual layer discs which is a different thing altogether. Three portables (out of the four notebooks reviewed here) have 12” TFT screens, with two of them being wide screens models. By the way, we have not made a mistake and repeated the visual for the ACi DimiQ 1100 and the Sahara CK66 in the reviews below-the two are identical in reality.

Multimedia Content Creation Winstone (MCCW) 2003
Business Winstone (BW) 2003

So what sets them apart? Small variations in configuration (like the type and speed of CPU and RAM) and a larger price variation.

BW and MCCW Scores
BW uses regular productivity applications that use smaller file sizes, while MCCW's applications use larger files. Thus, when the system has a hard disk that performs better with larger files, its MCCW score will be better than its BW performance. That's why Sahara CJ66 and CK66 did much better in MCCW.

ACi DimiQ 1100

Ultra Portable

  • Good performance, low price
  • Small sense-area for touch pad, speaker quality

Powered by an ultra-low voltage Pentium U1300 1.06 GHz and a Gig of RAM, this white bodied notebook is about style. The top of its lid is silver gray and its screen is a 11.1” but wide TFT. The screen is shiny like a glossy screen but it is not a glossy TFT. The speaker is along the ridge-joint with a single non-programmable button alongside that launches the default media player installed (WMP, Winamp, etc). The touch pad is of standard size with scrollbars on the left and bottom edges, but the sense-area for the scrollers are wider than normal giving you a smaller than usual space for free pointer movement.

SCORES
BW MCCW BM
31.5  33.2  4 Hrs 35 Min

Performance is at par with similar notebooks from our August/September reviews-we ran Business Winstone and Multimedia Content Creation Winstone that returned scores of 31.5 and 33.2 Winstones respectively. Plus, the battery lasts you well over four and a half hours-a good performance.

BOTTOM LINE: Its price tag is well worth the configuration and performance, making it a good investment.

Quick Specs
Specs: Pentium U1300 1.06 GHz, 1 GB RAM, 80 GB hard disk, Intel 945 motherboard with on-board graphics, Gigabit Ethernet LAN, dual mode (+/-) DVD writer
Price: Rs 65,000 (1 year warranty)
Contact: Allied Computers, Delhi.
Tel: 9871652227
E-mail: acinorth@aci-asia.com 
SMS Buy 130156 to 6677

Sahara CJ66

Ultra Portable

  • Good performance, very low price
  • Horrible battery life

This notebook from Sahara is not the usual rectangle you get to see with ultraportables, but we decided to call it one because its form factor is fairly the same as the DimiQ 1100 and the Sahara CK66. Plus, it weighs within the 1.5 Kg limit we have put for this qualification. This all grey notebook has a Pentium M 1.6 on an Intel 915 with 512 MB RAM. The screen is a 12.1” TFT. The last line of the keyboard is cramped. The model we received had a couple of keys repeated and even misprinted, which Sahara claims, have been fixed in store models.

Its benchmark scores of 36.9 and 27.7 Winstones in MCCW and Business Winstone respectively are better scores than that of ACi's DimiQ 1100 which has a better configuration with a 945 chipset. Battery life is just 1 hour and 55 minutes to the whistle. Performance therefore is not chart breaking, but this is sufficient horsepower.

SCORES
BW MCCW BM
27.7  36.9  1 Hrs 55 Min

BOTTOM LINE: For a price tag of under 40K minus taxes, it's worth a shot if you're willing to negotiate for a better battery.

Quick Specs
Specs: Pentium M 1.6 GHz, 512 MB RAM, 80 GB hard disk, Intel 915 motherboard with on-board graphics, Gigabit Ethernet LAN, dual mode (+/-) DVD writer
Price: Rs 38,499 (1 yr warranty)
Contact: Sahara Computers, Delhi,
Tel: 9899235906 
E-mail: mahima.sharma@saharacomputers.co.in 
SMS Buy 130157 to 6677

Sahara CK66

Ultra Portable

  • Dual mode writer
  • Mistakes on keyboard, very expensive

This notebook is identical to ACi DimiQ 1100 in size, shape, weight, style and configuration. The first difference you notice, with both of them placed side by side, is the number of mistakes on Sahara's keyboard. The performance is a little behind in MCCW but similar in Business Winstone. The battery life is almost identical at four and a half hours. Then there's a question mark over its price tag... when the ACi is available at 65K, why would you pay about 80K for this one? We ask Sahara to sort that out as well.

The notebook has a 12.1” TFT with speakers along the top of the ridge joint. The lone unprogrammable button next to the speaker launches whatever is the default media player on the system. The touch pad for pointer control is of normal size but the area to sense scroll-bar movement is so wide that there is not enough space left for free pointer movement.

SCORES
BW MCCW BM
28.4  31.8 4 Hrs 24 Min

Bottom Line: As compared to ACi DimiQ 1100, we find the price tag on the higher side, given the lower benchmark scores.

Quick Specs
Specs: Pentium U1300 1.06 GHz, 1 GB RAM, 80 GB hard disk, Intel 945 motherboard with on-board graphics, Gigabit Ethernet LAN, dual mode (+/-) DVD writer
Price: Rs 79,999 (1 yr warranty)
Contact: Sahara Computers, Delhi.
Tel: 9899235906 
E-mail: mahima.sharma@saharacomputers.co.in 
SMS Buy 130158 to 6677

Sahara CK76

Rugged

  • Rugged design, sensible performance
  • Requires a better processor

The CK76 has a plastic-like black body with no frills. Open the lid to find a 14” square TFT framed with a metallic lining. The dual mode DVD writer is lockable with a sliding key next to the eject button. Like the other three notebooks, this one has a single non-programmable button, but unlike them the CK76's button toggles your Wi-Fi on or off. Luckily the keyboard is spacious and typing on it is not a problem except for the surprisingly small Enter and right Shift keys. There is also a volume control dial along the front-edge.

With Pentium M 1.73 GHz/512 meg RAM on a 915 chipset motherboard and on-board graphics, this Sahara book scored a good 43.1 and 29.7 Winstones in multimedia and office productivity benchmarks respectively. Battery life with its 9-cell Li-ion pack is a good 5 hours plus.

SCORES
BW MCCW BM
29.7 43.1 5 Hrs 02 Min

Bottom Line: The notebook is rugged, though it is not made for the typical executive amongst you. We consider the CK76 as a good buy.

Quick Specs
Specs: Pentium M 1.73 GHz, 512 MB RAM, 80 GB HDD, Intel 915 motherboard with on-board graphics, Gigabit Ethernet LAN, dual mode (+/-) DVD writer, shockproof
Price: Rs 49,999 (1 yr warranty)
Contact: Sahara Computers, Delhi
Tel: 9899235906 
E-mail: mahima.sharma@saharacomputers.co.in 
SMS Buy 130159 to 6677

Dell XPS M1210 Notebook

Feature Rich

  • Good configuration at this price point
  • Poor graphics performance

This Core 2 Duo notebook from Dell is aimed at the frequently travelling power business user. The notebook weighs around 2 Kgs but packs a punch with its features as well as performance. It comes with a built-in 1.3 Megapixel swiveling webcam (Logitech Quickcam model) and Skype phone software for IP video conferencing. A single button lets you quickly take snapshots or invoke the video recorder. Media player controls arranged along the front edge, which light up, add not only style but also make it easy to locate the controls in a darkened flight cabin. Speakers are on the 12.1” widescreen TFT and audio quality is good enough. The only minus we could find was the Wi-Fi button that was located right under the side-located heat vent.

SCORES
PCMark05 3DMark05 BatteryMark02
4192 1988 3hr 37 Min

The notebook scored a decent 4192 PCMarks and 1988 3DMarks in PCMark 05 and 3DMark 05 tests. Gameplay sees around 9 FPS with regular scenery and animation and this drops to about 5 FPS when you add complex polygons. Considering the graphics is NVidia GoForce 7400 with 256 MB RAM, this can be better.

BOTTOM LINE: The XPS M1210 is good value for money at this price point.

Quick Specs
Specs: Intel T2600 Core 2 Duo, 1 GB RAM, 90 GB HDD, 1.3 Megapixel Logitech webcam, SD card reader, CD/DVD RW
Price: Rs 65,563 (3 year warranty)
Contact: Dell India, Bangalore
Tel: 1800-425-4026.
Email: belgundi_indrajit@dell.com 
SMS Buy 130160 to 6677

Lenovo ThinkCentre A60

Business PC

ThinkVantage Technology
No monitor

This is an ordinary business desktop meant for regular productivity use. It runs on AMD Athlon64 3800+ at 2.41GHz and comes with GeForce 6100 onboard graphics. It has 80GB HDD and a DVD ROM but no floppy drive.

The ThinkCentre A60 family is preloaded with ThinkVantage technology software applications like ThinkVantage Productivity Center, Client Security Solution, and Rescue and Recovery. For example, the Productivity Center guides you to set up, understand, maintain, and enhance your desktop. 

As for the performance bit, it scored better than other desktops of similar configurations that we reviewed earlier. But, with Business Winstone 2002 it gave an average performance. There is one more thing though-you don't get a monitor bundled even at the 40K you pay for this machine.

SCORES
BW 3DMark05 PCMark05
35.4  661 2724

BOTTOM LINE: An average PC as compared to other dual cores. There is no monitor included in the price and the business productivity is average-not the best buying option.

Quick Specs
Specs: AMD Athlon 64 3800+, 2.4 GHz, 512 MB, Nvidia C51g Chipset, SoundMax HD audio
Price: Rs 39,949 (without Monitor),
3 yr warranty
Contact: Lenovo India, Bangalore,
Tel: 30533000,
Email: rahulguin@in.lenovo.com
SMS Buy 130161 to 6677
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