by July 1, 2005 0 comments

This is the third notebook shootout by PCQuest within 18 months. We recommend you to read our earlier editions in February 2004 and January 2005 to get a feel of where we’ve been and where notebooks are headed. We certainly were quite surprised. In our January shootout for instance, we thought that DVD Combo drives were ‘in’ and all the notebooks we got had one. Some had a DVD writer as well, which we thought of as a plus. This time, DVD combos are a fad that’s rapidly phasing out in favor of full DVD writers and even dual layer DVD writers and re-writers. In much the same way, gone are the
Centrino notebooks from January and this time, we have 64-bit notebooks and notebooks that while not nearly ‘Centrino’, echo the same using a mobile processor, WiFi capabilities and aggressive power management. The 15 notebooks we’ve got this time are ‘budget’ value notebooks, all in the Rs 35K and 65K bracket. Typically, we envisage these being used by frequently traveling executives and perhaps one or two of them by the top management.

In all, we have ten brands and fifteen models of notebooks, of whom two are Celeron M, eight are Pentium M, one is a P4, three Turions and one a Sempron. Five notebooks have 512 MB RAM and the rest have 256 MB.

Similarly, eight notebooks have a 40 GB hard disk and seven have 60 GB. A thankful differentiation came this time with multiple graphics systems. In January, we had only two (Intel 82852/82855 and ATI Radeon); but this time, we have a few on SiS and even within this, there is some variety in the
exact graphics systems used. Now, let’s explain what we evaluated, why and how.

More than ports and buttons

Where is HP?

You will find all major brands of notebooks reviewed here, but HP. Why is HP not present?

It is not as if we did not follow up with HP. We followed up regularly and religiously with them. But
apparently the person concerned was on a long annual leave and no one else could take that decision.
Wonder how HP does business when people go on leave!

—Editor

When we go to buy a PC or a computer, we don’t count the buttons on it to see how useful it is. We have various other parameters. In the same way, we found the counting of buttons and switches and ports on a notebook pretty pointless-yes, there’s a reason they’re there, but that doesn’t make them an over-riding concern. Often, a notebook with a lot of ports and buttons is either too heavy to carry around or heats up so badly it might as well be a desktop! Therefore, this time, we decided to poke around more and come up with other scores for the units. They are as follows.

  • Weight: This time we’ve gone with the weight listed on the vendor’s website or in a publicly accessible brochure for it. This we assume is the weight of the notebook itself without any accessory or bag.
  • Software: This is the list of useful applications, minus any monitoring and update tools provided by the vendor. For instance, an anti virus or a CD-burning application is counted, but a temperature manager is not.
  • Drivers and Recovery: The bane of notebook users, there is a strong requirement for a way to recover the usability and possibly the data on a notebook. So, if the vendor provides readily usable drivers and recovery CDs, that’s a big plus. But if the vendor provdes a blank notebook and leaves it to you to worry about everything, then it’s a minus.
  • HDD capacity: Hard disk space is a premium on notebooks and they run out pretty quickly if you use a notebook aggressively. So, higher the capacity, the better.
  • Optical drives: In January, we simply gave a 1 or a 0 depending on whether it was a DVD combo or just a CD writer/drive. This time, they were atleast a DVD combo, while some were DVD RW and others dual layer DVD writers. Dual-layer drives got the
    highest score, since you can back up atleast twice as much data on such a media as you can on a normal DVD-purely from a backup point of view.
  • Keyboard layout: How usable is your keyboard? Desktop keyboards are standard with very few differences. But notebook
    layouts differ quite widely, even within the same vendor. Key sizes change, even placements change. Sometimes, keys go
    completely missing or relocated to the opposite sides of the board.
  • Heating and ventilation: Notebooks are meant to be used on the lap. They used to be called ‘laptops’ once upon a time. As such, they should have very good thermal
    management. But do they? We left them all on for sometime and checked how hot the keyboard, touchpad and undersides got. The hotter they became, the further down they went in the scores.
  • Frills: We did count the ports and buttons, but they all went into a single
    category called ‘frills’, since you wouldn’t miss them very much. If your notebook has just two USB ports, you can buy a USB
    extender and use that for about Rs 500. The same applies to memory card readers, Web cams and the like. But if your notebook
    already has them aplenty, that is a definite selling point. We also counted anything that the notebook had in addition to the rest, like replicator ports, soft-buttons,
    S-Video ports, etc.

Performance, is it that good?
A notebook in this price segment would be as feature rich as possible but does it also pack the same amount of oomph into its performance?

Irritating or useful?

Here, we list some of the oddities we have found on the notebooks. As a buyer, you should watch for these and decide whether you find them useful or
irritating, because these manufacturers are making them this way, for you.

  • Bluetooth
    button-
    A lot of the notebooks we received had a button marked
    ‘Bluetooth’. But while it installed a driver for it, we had
    to insert a USB Bluetooth dongle for there to be any Bluetooth
    on that notebook.

  • USB placement-USB
    ports are very useful if you use them a lot. So, is it convenient
    to have them on the sides or at the back? Some notebooks have
    them on the sides only, evenly arranged. Others have one or
    two on the side and the rest at the back. Also idiotic is the
    placement of USB ports next to power or Ethernet ports. USB
    devices often come with very fat cables or are fat themselves
    (like USB drives) and these can’t be plugged in without removing
    other connections. Same of course goes for other ports.

  • Optical
    drive placement-
    Whatever be the optical drive on your notebook,
    if it is on the front edge, then you better be sitting at a
    table as you need ample space. Same goes for ‘quick’ (browser,
    e-mail, etc) buttons on the front.

  • Num pad-The
    number pad on all notebooks we have seen to date are completely
    useless and we are yet to find someone who says he uses it.
    Also, this pad is completely different from desktop keyboard’s
    num pads, telephone pads or any system of arranging digits 0-9
    in a square shape.

  • Keyboard
    arrangement-
    Where are the keys you use the most? If they
    are in radical placements (like say the ‘~’ and ‘#’ keys taken
    down onto one key and placed next to Enter), then it is not
    going to be very convenient. Some keyboards have very small
    left-shift keys or have the ‘Fn’ key near ‘Ctrl’, etc.

To check, we ran BW (Business Winstone 2003) and MCCW (Multimedia Content Creation Winstone 2002) to get an idea about its productivity capabilities. We ran 3DMark 2003 to test for DirectX 9.0 graphics performance. A good score in both 3DMark and MCCW would mean it could be used a power-house notebook. BatteryMark 2002 was then used to check for battery life and how long it would keep you occupied, sans AC power. We did not run Quake 3 Arena or Doom 3 as we felt they were not relevant to these notebooks.

Usually, we have a predefined procedure that we follow on a notebook where we turn various settings on or off or standardize them in some way.This was supposed to eliminate bottlenecks and optimize the system. But, a typical user does not run his or her notebook, or whatever device, with these ‘optimal’ settings.
Therefore, when we said, for instance, that a notebook was very good for video editing because of a score, you might have found it was very slow because you haven’t ‘optimized’ your unit. We remedied this by simply maximizing every setting we had on the particular notebook. So, unlike in the January shootout, these notebooks ran with maximum power management functions enabled in the BIOS. Of course, we did disable services and things like screensavers that would interfere with the running of the benchmarks.

Cost matters most
At the end of the day, price plays a big role in actually buying the product.

Warranty does too, but all notebooks carry some sort of a warranty. What matters is the period of warranty and whether it is National (only within India) or International (India and abroad). Let’s explain our rationale of the way we evaluated the price of each notebook. Vendors go to the market with primarily two types of notebooks. One, it is completely blank without a pre-loaded OS. In the second case, an OS is loaded,
possibly with additional software. So we considered the lowest price provided by the vendor. Visit ‘Shootout tables’ at
http://forums.pcquest.com for all the scores.

Sanjay Majumder, Sujay V Sarma

Acer TravelMate 4150 

Overall 
Ranking
100
89 89
Feature Performance
Price: 80

+Good features, high performance 
-A little heavy
The Acer 4150 is a dangerously deceptive notebook. On close inspection, you will notice that it is actually packed with both features and the performance to justify those features. All this comes at a very competitive price. The brand name helps (although we do not count brand-names in our shootout ratings). The notebook, like one from any MNC player, comes with a full set of driver, OS and recovery CDs which can be used to
recover your system to atleast factory spec should anything go wrong.

On the performance front, the 4150 is actually placed second lagging behind the Sahara KN1 by eleven points. The nearest challenger is the Edge CL51-15 at a further three points behind. Of course, the 4150 was out-performed by the Edge in both BW and MCCW but blazed away into the distance in 3DMark and BatteryMark. 

This Acer will keep your work running smoothly for 2 hours and 54 minutes when on battery. Its graphics is placed 4th, with 769 3DMarks, among the notebooks in this shootout. The notebook is sold in the market with Win XP Home for a price of Rs 47,499 plus taxes and weighs a cool 2.84 kgs. For a business user, we would have preferred a version that carried Win XP Pro instead and weighed a lot less-imagine having to lug a ten pack of Diet-Pepsi bottles on your shoulder while touring!

If you want a lot of screen area, then this is one of the few top-of-the-line notebooks in this shootout that features an ample 15” XGA LCD screen, with a sufficiently powerful graphics card to support it.

With the right balance of price, features and performance, you wouldn’t mind spending the money for this notebook, even on a budget. RQS# E20 or SMS 130720 to 9811800601

Quick Specs

CPU: Pentium M 1.5 GHz 
RAM: 256 MB
HDD: 60 GB
Graphics: Intel 915, 128 MB
Special: 6-in-1 Card Reader, PCMCIA-II
Price: Rs 47,499
Warranty: 1 year, International
Contact: 080-25219520, ailenquiries@acer.co.in
  

Sahara KN1 — NB631 

Overall 
Ranking
94
74 100
Feature Performance
Price: 69

+Very good performance, best battery backup 
-No software
Given its rich features for multimedia-built-in microphone, S-Video out, media player controls like play/pause etc-we suspected that it was more geared up for the multimedia professionals. Its performance scores saw this hypothesis supported with top-line scores for MCCW and 3DMark with a reasonable outing in BW and
BatteryMark. 

The SiS powered graphics of this notebook was beaten into submission only by the two MSI S270s. The difference to the second MSI is only 40 points. The nearest challenger is the overall winner (Acer 4150) a further 100 points behind. And, as you can see from the scores above, this notebook scores a 100 (pro-rated) for performance and it is also our ‘Best Performance’ winner for this shootout. We also found this to be the best notebook for the offline worker with the best
battery backup time of a cool three and a half hours. However, it is not that easy to carry around, weighing 2.8 kgs. The price is a
modest Rs 48,990, which is just above the average for the notebooks in this shootout. 

No software except driver CDs are supplied with the notebook and it’s pre-loaded OS is Linux. There is no Windows option. Most of the drivers provided are Windows only. The notebook features a top score in the feature tables for its ample hard disk space (60 GB), good thermals and an impressive list of miscellaneous features (all for multimedia).

Costing a little more than the 4150, this is the right notebook for the purely performance concious with a demand for lots of offline work.
RQS# E21 or SMS 130721 to 9811800601

Quick Specs

CPU: Pentium M 1.6 GHz 
RAM: 256 MB
HDD: 60 GB
Graphics: SiS 760GX, 64 MB
Special: Built-in Mic, S-Video, media-controls (play/pause, etc)
Price: Rs 48,990
Warranty: 1 year, National
Contact: 011-26142292

MSI Megabook S270, Turion 

Overall 
Ranking
91
100 72
Feature Performance
Price: 63

+A lot of powerful future-proof features 
-Low on performance
We cannot criticize MSI for pricing this breathtakingly pretty white colored notebook at a whopping Rs 55,000. The reason for this price appears to be its the AMD Turion (64-bit) CPU and the dual layer DVD writer drive. Of course, that price tag is for a blank machine, sans OS and software. The
Win XP Home option sees a Rs 58,500 price tag.

This notebook scored the highest in features. This is a mini-book, and has a smaller form factor than twelve other books we got this time. This makes for its rather putative 1.9 Kg weight. The screen is a 12” WXGA LCD that has a maximum resolution of 1280×768 for clearly readable text. With the OS-loaded version of the book, they also supply a full restore CD and drivers. Sadly, these are 32-bit drivers for a 64-bit machine.

The MSI S270 Turion does the highest on 3DMark benchmark, scoring a whopping 952. Its 20.4 in MCCW however is at the half-way mark for that test. The notebook also performs a little low in BW (22.3) and we saw a back-up time of a mere hour. Therefore, we do not particularly recommend buying this notebook if you are looking for high-mobility executive productivity.

Useful features like audio jacks (headphone and mic) and a FireWire port are placed thoughtfully along the front-edge. The various status lights are also placed along this edge. The power-button, WiFi button and pre-programmed soft-buttons are stylish and double as status indicators for their respective functions.
That said, it is a highly stylish future-proof notebook for the top level executive or someone in the media (advertising, graphics-intensive worker).
RQS# E22 or SMS 130722 to 9811800601

Quick Specs

CPU: AMD Turion 1.6 GHz 
RAM: 256 MB
HDD: 60 GB
Graphics: ATi Radeon 200M, 64 MB
Special: Dual Layer DVD Writer, Card reader
Price: Rs 55,000
Warranty: 1 year, National
Contact: 011-51758808, info@msi-india.com 

Connoi CL51-15 

Overall 
Ranking
90
74 58
Feature Performance
Price: 100

+Aggressively priced 
-Low battery time
The Connoi we saw in the January shootout was a Pentium M and that one had performed reasonably well. This one, on the other hand, is below average in both features and performance. The
notebook is aggressively priced at a mind-blowing Rs 35,000. Although it is not a bad configuration, this Connoi is one only two Celeron powered notebook in this set and it comes with a 40 GB hard disk. 

One plus point of this notebook is that it outperforms the other Celeron book in this shootout, the Acer 2355NXC. Both these notebooks have identical hardware, except for the extra memory card reader in the CL51.

This Connoi also seemed to offer a marginally better (by two minutes at 1 hour 13 minutes) battery backup time than that Acer. But this time is a straight 40 odd points below par from the leader.

Software-wise, this notebook comes with RedHat Enterprise Linux WS, while the Acer is a Win XP Pro loaded box. Add the price of the XP OS, around Rs 5,600 and you’ll find the Acer instantly cheaper for the same performance and hardware configuration. Also, quite strangely, this notebook is a full 0.2 Kg heavier than the Acer 2355NXC (for the same hardware) and we didn’t think a single extra programmable button and a memory card reader was heavy enough to cause this.

The notebook performs a lot better in BW and not so well in MCCW-understandable for its Celeron processor. Connoi does not provide a recovery CD with their notebook while Acer gives one with the 2355NXC.

Bottom line? Great price, reasonably good list of features with average performance, mostly thanks to its lower processor. The buying decision rests with you. RQS# E23 or SMS 130723 to 9811800601

Quick Specs

CPU: Celeron M 1.4 GHz 
RAM: 256 MB
HDD: 40 GB
Graphics: Intel 82852/82855, 64 MB
Special: Two programmable buttons, Card reader
Price: Rs 35,000
Warranty: 1 year, International
Contact: 080-51152203

Acer Aspire 5002NWLMi 

Overall 
Ranking
93
96 64
Feature Performance
Price: 78

+Great features 
-Not sufficient horse power
For a long time as results were pouring in and we kept updating our charts, this Acer was in a tie with the IBM ThinkPad. It finally managed to grab the fifth spot by just one point. While this notebook leads the ThinkPad by a mere one point in pricing and some 10 points in performance, the IBM R50e loses by 10 points in features. The types of features that are different in the two notebooks are also very interesting and subject to why you’re buying a notebook. The 5002 is heavier than the ThinkPad by 100 grams and bundles far fewer software (only the Norton AV, compared to the veritable ton that comes pre-loaded on the ThinkPad). 

This Acer also features a 60 GB HDD a lot more than the 40 in the IBM R50e. The other major difference is dual-layer DVD writer in this notebook. The IBM R50e comes with a standard Combo drive. Also missing in the IBM are the Windows keys which sees it lose a few points to this Aspire. Finally, look under the hood- the AMD Turion 64-bit processor. In the performance, the 5002 outperforms the R50e in 3DMark by a large margin but R50e gets it back in battery time. 

On this notebook we get media player controls (play/pause/stop ec) but these are in combination with the home/page-up keys set along the right edge of the keyboard. We also found it had two oddly placed keys (along with the arrow-navigation keys) for the Euro and Dollar currency symbols-this makes even the navigation keys difficult to use. Status lights are along the front edge of the notebook as are also the jacks for headphones and microphone. The Aspire is a Turion and hence would be future-proof at this price. RQS# E24 or SMS 130724 to 9811800601

Quick Specs

CPU: AMD Turion 1.6 GHz 
RAM: 256 MB
HDD: 60 GB
Graphics: SiS 760GX, 64 MB
Special: Dual Layer DVD Writer
Price: Rs 48,500
Warranty: 1 year, International
Contact: 080-25219520, ailenquiries@acer.co.in

IBM ThinkPad R50e LQ3 

Overall 
Ranking
93
86 74
Feature Performance
Price: 79

+Good features, right price 
-A little lower on performance, no Windows key
Better than the Acer 5002 on two counts, performance and price, and lagging behind only on the features side by a mere 10 points; this is perhaps the only book other than the Acer 2350, to score low on frills. The R50e has only two USB ports, a lot of devices connect via USB. We fail to see why even the latest
ThinkPads do not have the Windows key. Even the Sahara KN1 which comes only with a Linux OS option has a Windows key!

The ThinkPad comes with a three hour plus battery backup beaten into second spot only by the Sahara. The keys are laid out in
the nicest manner and this is one of the easiest books to start using right away.

This notebook is also the only one of the fifteen that does not have a touchpad (the joy-mouse replacing it).

R50e is heavily tipped in favor of a business executive use, performing better in the BW (score of 22.7) rather than
anything else. Its graphics is moderately powerful, but scores only 90 3DMarks (second-last, if you’re counting). The R50e, like most ThinkPads, features side-placed ventilators and fans and this cools the book rather evenly. The notebook has got almost everything.

If you look at the performance scores again and notice that it actually manages to beat the Aspire 5002 by 10 points, and this is considering that the Acer has a Turion inside while the IBM has a ‘lowly’ Pentium-M. This speaks volumes about the raw performance of this R50e.

At the end of the day, maybe a 60 GB hard disk would have done this IBM a lot of good in the scores. But with the rest of the features it bundles (like the AccessIBM) we find it a time-saving purchase for the executive who doesn’t want too many hassles with his notebook. RQS# E25 or SMS 130725 to 9811800601

Quick Specs

CPU: Pentium M 1.5 GHz 
RAM: 256 MB
HDD: 40 GB
Graphics: Intel 82852/82855, 64 MB
Special: System light, one-button recovery, accessibility friendly
Price: Rs 47,990
Warranty: 1 year, International
Contact: 011-25767117,amittal@hbsindia.com 

Acer TravelMate 2355NXC 

Overall 
Ranking
91
81 57
Feature Performance
Price: 98

+Great price and features
-Very low on performance

Price: Rs 36,000
Warranty: 1 year, international

Don’t blame the poor performance on anything other than the Celeron M processor under the hood. The rest of the spec is exactly the same as most of the other players. This was one of only two Celeron’s in this shootout, the other one being the Connoi which got the ‘Best Price’ award, just because of its 1,000 rupee lower price tag. However, unlike the Connoi, this one comes with Win XP Pro pre-loaded and a Recovery CD. Norton AV is also thrown in to keep you safe from malicious content. The laptop is reasonably light for its size and features at 2.5
Kgs.

Its Celeron CPU grants it a marginally average performance in BW and CCW. Our 3DMark tests showed that it performed much worse than the Connoi and coveted the position of scoring the lowest score of 64 3DMarks. Battery performance is just about average with 1 hour and 11 minutes. But it did outscore the Connoi by a few tenths in Bw and CCW, which is not much. 

While selecting between the two, you might want to consider the Connoi has an S-Video, Firewire and Card reader ports that this one doesn’t. RQS# E26 or SMS 130726 to 9811800601

Samsung P28 Premium

Overall 
Ranking
89
65 81
Feature Performance
Price: 85

+Three year warranty
-Keyboard layout

Price: Rs 52,875
Warranty:
1st year international, 2nd/3rd year national
Contact: 011-51511234, notepc.siel@samsung.com

This notebook was branded as the ‘SensZ40’ on its label and came with an 80 GB HDD, but Samsung brands it as the ‘P28 Premium’ and sells it with a 60 GB hard disk in the market. Either way, this notebook is a little on the heavier side, weighing 2.82 Kg and comes with just a DVD combo drive.

The P28’s keyboard was also among one of the difficult to use with very odd key placements. The ‘Fn’ key and the Windows right-click keys have been relocated to near the navigation keys, just to name two. There is also a second Windows key on the right-side. And, the left-shift is small, while the right-shift key is long.

The notebook is powered by a Pentium M 1.7 GHz CPU but has 512 MB RAM. Graphics is an ATi Radeon 9000 IGP with 128 MB video memory.

This has a touchpad lock and an ‘etiquette’ button-this button turns off the PC speaker and lowers sound-system volume, useful in a conference setting. It does well on both performance and price, making it a good purchase at around 53K RQS# E27 or SMS 130727 to 9811800601

EDGE M360BAT-6 Gallopwire 

Overall 
Ranking
89
62 86
Feature Performance
Price: 82

+Tops in BW and MCCW
-Heats up

Price: Rs 47,500
Warranty:
3 year, national
Contact: 011-51625065, sales@edge-4u.com

This is a slightly different laptop compared to the CL51 we got from Edge in January. That one had a 40 GB HDD and a 15” screen, priced at Rs. 52,000. Other than that, this notebook too offers a lot. The EDGE M360BAT-6 Gallopwire offers a three year warranty. It has also a great price and comes with two pre-load options — you can either buy it as a blank machine (at the price shown) or with Win XP Home or Pro for a higher cost.

The laptop heats up a little around the touchpad and on the underside-a bad idea if you use laptops on your lap. The reason for this seems to be the rather small ventilation ducts on the sides and a fan at the bottom which is obscured when you keep the notebook on your lap. We felt that for the ‘power-house’ configuration it has with a Pentium M and 512 MB memory, it should be a little better with its thermals.

There is one plus point though-the CL51 tops in BW and MCCW. It also has a very good battery performance at 2 hours 44 minutes. RQS# E28 or SMS 130728 to 9811800601

MSI Megabook S270, Sempron

Overall 
Ranking
89
88 64
Feature Performance
Price: 75

+Great graphics
-Low performance

Price: Rs 44,500
Warranty:
1 year,national
Contact: 011-51758808, info@msi-india.com

At first glance, this notebook looks identical to its Turion wielding cousin, also called the S270. However that’s where the similarity ends. This tiny 1.9 Kg book is colored black and is powered by an AMD Sempron processor. It is also the only sub-GHz (787 MHz) model in the 15 and perhaps that’s why it is at the bottom of the charts in BW and MCCW. This S270 does very well suddenly in the 3DMark test, scoring 899 points that shoots it up to second place in that test.

However, it does give you a six minutes more battery time (just over an hour) than the Turion model.

Feature-wise, it has just a DVD combo drive and one USB port less than the other 270. It scores well because of the bundled recovery and driver CDs, memory card reader and
FireWire.

This is another notebook with audio-jacks conveniently on the front-edge. Just like the Turion S270, this model also has a funny feel to its keyboard.
Meant for the same style-concious executives who want looks and gaming-style performance on a notebook. We find it is priced competitively for its results. RQS# E29 or SMS 130729 to 9811800601

Hyundai M-Life 350C 

Overall 
Ranking
87
59 73
Feature Performance
Price: 93

+Great battery life
-Expensive

Price: Rs 40,000
Warranty:
1 year, national
Contact: 044-52133337, sales@twicedigitale.com

The Hyundai performs better this time in 3DMark as well as battery time, but does lower scores than before in both BW and CCW. In January, we had been much impressed by the 350C’s Webcam and related features, we still are. This time it is only one of two (the Edge CL51 being the other) to feature a
Webcam. 

The 350C has only 256 MB memory compared to the Edge’s 512 MB. This seems to be why the two are differentiated in performance, where the CL51 does better in BW, MCCW and 3DMark. In battery life, we see a meager 3 minute advantage for the 350C.

Both notebooks (the Edge and this one) are also evenly matched for features except for the 20 GB less HDD space on this Hyundai. Not to be out-classed by the other vendor, both of them offer the same 3 year national warranty. However, the 20 GB higher hard disk on the Edge forces the 350C past on the price front and
it costs some Rs. 7,500 lesser. 

It is only in price where 350C has an edge over the Edge. RQS# E30 or SMS 130730 to 9811800601

Gigabyte G-MAX N501P 

Overall 
Ranking
86
74 77
Feature Performance
Price: 71

+Reasonable performance
-Pricing

Price: Rs 47,750
Warranty:
1 year, national
Contact: 022-26526696, sales@gigabyte.in

The G-MAX N501P fails to impress anyone except its own cousin the N411. This P-M powered notebook gives an overall average score as far as performance is concerned. The only graph where it manages to salvage some respect is in battery times, with an eyebrow-raising 2 hours 45 minutes without AC power — otherwise, it is bested by even the N411 in performance.

Essentially, the Hyundai 350C and the IBM R50e are both in the same class with the same CPU, RAM and graphics. They are also quite close to each other in performance-the N501 leads in BW and CCW but the 350C takes it back in 3DMark. 

The IBM then steals it in BatteryMark. Feature-wise though, the N501 has better thermals compared to the 350C and its card reader and extra USB port earn it extra points. The Gigabyte notebook comes with recovery CDs (unlike the 350C) and this also gives it a slight edge. 

However in the end, this notebook comes in as an average notebook and we feel it could be priced lower. RQS# E31 or SMS 130731 to 9811800601

Gigabyte G-MAX N411

Overall 
Ranking
80
76 71
Feature Performance
Price: 58

+Good features
-Price

Price: Rs 61,995
Warranty:
1 year, national
Contact: 022-26526696, sales@gigabyte.in

The costliest notebook in this shootout does not carry any meaning for a ‘value for money’ purchase. Its price of 62 thousand rupees with just a one year national warranty is a little too steep compared to the other notebooks in this shootout.It has a score 29 lesser-than the best-performer. In BatteryMark, it got a score less than its own cousin the N501P by 45 minutes. Its 3DMark score of 116 is among the mid-field runners, but it outperforms the N501P and a number of others in BW and CCW. But you wouldn’t want to pay that much for this notebook when there are cheaper ones in the market that offer better features or performance.

Let’s see how it does features-wise. Other than the regular keys, this notebook features media control keys for play/pause etc. Which can be useful if you use the keyboard more than the touchpad. And it has a memory card reader. Other than that, the features are regular-Joe that we’d like to see in any good laptop,
including a FireWire port.

Overall its an average notebook in features or performance but priced high. RQS# E32 or SMS 130732 to 9811800601

MSI Megabook M630 

Overall 
Ranking
71
53 70
Feature Performance
Price: 60

+Standalone Video/MP3 player
-Price

Price: Rs 58,750
Warranty:
1 year, national
Contact: 011-51758808, info@msi-india.com

If you wanted a notebook with a VCD/DVD/MP3 Player that will work without AC power, then this is a done deal. However, this is just an ‘oomph’ for this laptop, which you might enjoy during a long and boring trip, like a two hour Air Deccan flight. 

However, you can just about finish a movie given its rather low 1:41 on battery time. M630 performs just halfway between the max and average scores for BW and CCW. However, its low 167 3DMarks would have us believe it is better for business productivity than graphics-intensive stuff.

It has a 15” XGA screen and weighs 2.7 Kgs. This notebook was the only one in the set to feature a scroller on the
touchpad.

Absolutely no software or drivers are supplied with the notebook, it comes pre-loaded with Win XP Pro. This is a 64-bit book and like we said earlier, all its drivers are still 32-bit. It heats up a bit on prolonged use. 

We loved the standalone video/MP3 player, especially since the notebook doesn’t need to be turned on. RQS# E33 or SMS 130733 to 9811800601

Zenith Executive Z755110

Overall 
Ranking
70
53 50
Feature Performance
Price: 79

+Pricing
-Heavy

Price: Rs 42,000
Warranty:
1 year, national
Contact: 022-28366030, info@zenith-india.com

This notebook is heavy (3.5 Kg) and large. It comes with very limited software — just the drivers and no recovery CD for a branded notebook. A meager 40 GB HDD and combo DVD drive sees it pushed farther back. Thermally, heat seems to be ventilating out on the right-side over the keyboard, leaving your right-hand as warm as a toast, while cold on the left-side. Not a very comfortable experience.

A lavish 5 USB ports and a PS/2 port, an external volume control dial, a built-in Mic and S-Video port and you end up wishing it performed a little better! Perhaps the reason for its poor performance is its P4 (instead of P-M) CPU and thus, no power management or stepping capability. For a notebook, you wouldn’t want to spend the 42,000 on this desktop replacement, especially since there are better and easier to use laptops around. One more point, before we end- there is no carrybag (the only one in this 15) and you have to pay a thousand rupees extra for it. We have added this to the price above, to equalize things a bit. 

This would be a good purchase as a desktop replacement given its weight. RQS# E33 or SMS 130733 to 9811800601

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