Price Range: Rs. 30,000 to Rs. 50,000, Average MRP: Rs. 38, 200
Brands: Acer, Gigabyte, HCL, Intex, Sahara
These notebooks costing less than 50K fall into the same category as our July 2005 shootout. The salient features of the notebook that won the 'Best Features' label last year at this price range was a Pentium M 1.5 GHz, 256 MB RAM, 60 GB HDD, 15” XGA screen and was an Acer TravelMate 4150.The 4150 weighed 2.8 Kg. It gave a battery time of 3 hours and scored 32.8 and 769 in MCCW 2003 and 3D Mark 2003 respectively. The price of the TravelMate 4150 at that time was Rs. 43, 899. This time, 9 of our 27 notebooks fit into this category.
The specifications remain largely the same this year as from last July (a mix of Celeron, Sempron, Pentium M, Turion and dual core), with a flat 256 MB RAM and 40 GB HDD on each (two of them have 60 GB).
The average overall performance at 65.6 this time of these Budget notebooks is higher than what we got last year (49.4) with the same mix of feature specs and tests.Among the rest, you will find a mix of Intel 915, 945 graphics with either 64 or 128 MB graphics memory. The exception to that is the Sahara Turion, which comes with an ATi Mobility Radeon Xpress 200G with 64 MB memory. Both the Acers and the Gigabyte in this category come with a 14” wide screen LCD while the rest have a 15” XGA screen. The Intex 029CD has a 15” wide screen. A DVDR/CDRW Combo is the optical drive with most of the models.
Don't expect features like biometrics and TPM security in these models, although the Acer TravelMate 3242 comes with a motion sensor guard for its hard disk at this price tag! The average burden on the shoulders of these 9 notebooks is at 1.9 Kgs much lower than the average last time of 2.5 Kgs. Most of them weigh 2 kilos while the two Acers are much lighter at just 1.5, and the Sahara Turion is the heaviest of this lot at 2.5 Kgs.
In this category, you will notice two of the notebooks-namely the HCL V7901 and the Sahara L1-perform well below the average 65.6. The reason is simple. The Turion64 powered HCL V7901 comes with a VIA/S3G UniChrome IGP graphics with just 32 MB of on board video memory and this lets it do only one of the 4 game tests in 3D Mark 2003 where it clocks a mere 88 3D Marks. Plus, the MCCW 2003 score was 22.2 Winstones expected after the 3D Mark rating. Its battery lasted just over half an hour. This resulted in a drop in its lower overall performance. Similarly, the Sahara L1 is a Celeron model with a SiS Mirage graphics, again with just 32 MB RAM. This spec sees it give similar scores as the V7901, with 109 3D Marks and 27.8 Winstones. However, it gets a better overall performance score because of better battery time of 2 hours 37 minutes.
The winner in this category has a price sensitive weightage, giving more importance in the total scores to the price, as compared to features or performance. So the notebook with the least price with the best blend of features and performance is our winner. There is a small caveat here though – the price variance between each model is just Rs. 4,000 at the most, though there is a 20,000 rupee difference between the least and the most priced notebook in this category. What this means is that when you consider purchasing one of these, you need to figure in the enterprise bulk purchase discounts (not a part of our scoring), which may bring down the MRP (say when you buy 20 of them) of some of these models quite a bit. We pick two winners, one Editor's Choice and one Highly Recommended.
|Acer TravelMate 3242
The budget category winner this year again is an Acer TravelMate and like its cousin, the 4150, this one too comes packed with features. There is little about this notebook that you would not like, except for the 32 MB VRAM. For most business users and traveling executives, it is a superb companion.
The 14” wide screen notebook not only looks good, it comes with an ergonomic curved keyboard and has a lock for its track pad that prevents accidental taps on the touch pad turning into unwanted clicks when you're working with the keyboard. This model has a built in microphone and coupled with the excellent speakers, it lets you watch a full DVD during a boring budget flight. The battery lasts a cool 3 hours and 40 minutes (best in this category).
In performance, the 3242 performs top of the line for its category, with 832 3D Marks and 41.9 MCC Winstones. This is of course quite natural as this is the only dual core notebook in this category. The Sahara Turion, with its Radeon 200G and the Intex 029CD with the Intel 915 but 128 MB VRAM did give better frame rates than the 3242, points out that this notebook has 64 MB too less VRAM.
BOTTOM LINE: The labels of 'Best Features', 'Best Performance' and 'Editor's Choice' should say this is the notebook to buy, if you have 50K rupees to spend, a little above the average price for this class.
The Sahara L1 is a Celeron notebook and is priced the lowest in our Budget notebooks category. As such, its configuration is low end and this notebook would be suited for executives and junior management in the company. Given its configuration, it has good performance.
There are three Celeron or Sempron notebooks in this shootout (the Gigabyte 521 and the HCL M7901 being the other two). Of them, this notebook performed a little better than the Gigabyte in MCCW (27.8 against 22 Winstones) and gave almost the same battery time compared to the HCL (2 hours 37 minutes against 2 hours 35 minutes). Its 3D Mark score was 109. This is a plus point for the notebook and indicates progressive technical design from a new player in the notebooks market. The Sahara L1 comes with a standard set of features. There are no bells and whistles added that would have made the price go higher. The hinges are placed in such a way that the notebook can open out flat. Its silver-gray coloring gives it style and large keys usability. There is a built-in microphone that's just under the LCD and the speakers are mounted on the front-edge. All the ports are arranged at the rear of the notebook and this may be a problem if you frequently need to plug or unplug devices.
If you remember our last notebook shootout (July 2005), we had a couple of entries then too in the same price range from Sahara. At that time, their notebooks came with only a Linux option, with Windows drivers, no documentation and the nature and quality of the software provided with the system were not in the same league as the big boys they were competing against. This year, things have improved. In fact, the Sahara was one of the few notebooks we received this time that came with a full kit like from a branded player.
This shows a progressive player and we expect their future entries to do even better in the next shootout.
BOTTOM LINE: If you don't mind a Celeron and have a rock bottom budget, then this is an ideal notebook for you.
The rest of the budget notebooks...
|ACER Aspire 5502ZNWXCi
Features: 82.9 Performance: 81.4
|Centrino (Pentium M) 1.7 GHz,256 MB,60 GB, HDD,Intel 915GM/128, MB,14”WXGA,1.5 Kg, 02:53 battery time||+
Good combination of features and performance
- Price on the costlier side
|Acer India Pvt Ltd, Bangalore. Tel: 25219520. firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Celeron 1.4 GHz,256 MB, 40 GB HDD,Intel 915GM/128 MB,15” XGA,2 Kg, 05:10 battery time||+
Excellent battery backup,well priced, 3-in-1 memory card slot, S-Video out port
- Low graphics performance
Tel: 26526696. email@example.com
1.7 GHz,256 MB,40 GB
HDD, Intel 915GM/128
03:39 battery time
3-in-1 memory card slot
- Costlier than other
similar config models
Tel: 26526696. firstname.lastname@example.org
256 MB,40 GB,VIA/S3G
UniChrome Pro IGP/32
02:35 battery time
- Graphics performance
is low, could do better on
Pro IGP/32 MB,15"XGA,
2 Kg, 00:34 battery time
Good price for a
- Performance on the
lower-side and battery
time is very low
1.7 GHz,256 MB,40 GB
HDD, Intel 915GM/128
03:37 battery time
performance with good features
Radeon Xpress 200G/64
02:43 battery time
Good graphics performance
- Low on hard disk and
Gautam Budh Nagar
4307760. mahima.sharma@ saharacomputers.co.in