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ULTIMATE LAPTOP BUYER'S GUIDE

No-nonsense advice PLUS the latest mobile devices put to the test
WA I5N
00
LAPTOP

www.whatlaptop.co.uk ISSUE 139 August 2010

499
GROUP TEST

LAPTOPS
Intel Core i3
at unbeatably
cheap prices

REPORT
SOFTWARE GROUP TEST
FOR FREE
Stop paying
for programs
right now

NETBOOKS
IN PERIL
Are tablet PCs Kick off the summer sports season in style with
killing off the high-speed internet access wherever you roam
mini-laptop?
FIRST TEST GROUP TEST FIRST TEST
4.50

Apple's iPad hits the Intel Core i7-powered Dell goes mobile with
UK, but is it any good? portables for just 899 powerful Precision
AUGUST 2010

9.7 15.6
Windows. Life without Walls. Dell recommends Windows 7.

Everyday uses.
For everyone
in the family.

A powerful multimedia system


perfect for your family

Dell Studio 15


579
Total savings ....................... 129
E-ValueTM Code: PCPUK07&N0055807

Ready for a PC that adapts to everything you want to do?


Heres why: Then step up to the faster, smarter performance of a Dell
Intel Core i3-330M Processor PC powered by the new Intel Core i7 processor.
Genuine Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
4GB Memory
500GB Hard Drive
Shown in Im not Really a Waitress by OPI. Black Chainlink
15.6 (39.6cm) HD LED Screen with True-Life Comes Standard Your Choice of 5 Colors for 29.
512MB ATI Mobility RADEON HD 545v graphics card
2MP Webcam
McAfee Security Centre 15 month subscription included

Oers due to end 28/07/2010. Dell Products, c/o P.O. Box 69, Bracknell, Berkshire RG12 1RD, United Kingdom. Subject to availability. Prices and specications
McAfee # PROTECT WHAT YOU VALUE. may change without notice. Delivery charge is 20 Incl. VAT per system (unless otherwise stated). Consumers are entitled to cancel orders within 7 working
days beginning the day after the date of delivery; Dell collection charge is 23 Incl. VAT for system purchases and 11.50 Incl. VAT for accessory purchases. Terms and Conditions of Sales, Service and Finance apply and are available
from www.dell.co.uk. If you wish not to receive further marketing material via fax or direct mail please inform us via mail: delluk@clientmail.eu.com; post: Dell - Suppressions. PO Box 59, ROSS ON WYE, HR9 7ZS, United Kingdom;
or fax: 0800 3283071. Delivery charges range from 5.75 to 14.95 incl. VAT (17.5%) per item for items purchased without a system. Desktops and laptops listed include Microsoft Works 9.0 as standard. Actual hard drive capacity
will be less due to material and operating system which are preloaded. Promotional oers limited to maximum 5 systems per customer.1. Saving is the dierence between the total oer price versus the current online price for
the basic system with promotional components upgraded individually. Dell Services do not aect customers statutory rights. They are subject to Terms and Conditions which can be found at www.dell.co.uk/consumerservices/
termsandconditions. Celeron, Celeron Inside, Centrino, Centrino Inside, Core Inside, Intel, Intel Logo, Intel Atom, Intel Atom Inside, Intel Core, Intel Inside, Intel Inside Logo, Intel Viiv, Intel vPro, Itanium, Itanium Inside, Pentium,
Pentium Inside, Viiv Inside, vPro Inside, Xeon, and Xeon Inside are trademarks of Intel Corporation in the U.S. and other countries. Microsoft and Windows 7 are registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation.
Windows. Life without Walls. Samsung recommends Windows 7.

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Genuine Windows 7 Home Premium (64 Bit*) nVIDIA GeForce Graphics with 512MB/1GB* GDDR3
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Features performance

Genuine Windows 7 Home Premium (64 Bit*) 500-640 GB (5400 rpm SATA HDD)
Intel Core i3 Processor 330M 802.11bg/N, Bluetooth 2.1+ EDR
Intel Core i5 Processor 430M* Blu-ray Read* & DVD Multi R/W
nVIDIA GeForce Graphics with 512MB/1GB* GDDR3

RRP: From 699 R.R.P including VAT

Intel, the Intel Logo, Intel Inside, Intel Core, and Core Inside are trademarks of Intel Corporation in the U.S. and other
countries. For more information about the Intel processor feature rating, please refer to www.intel.com/go/rating.
* Factory Options. Design and Specifications are subject to change without notice.
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Has the iPad sounded
the death knell for
EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO BUY A MOBILE PC

Future Publishing Ltd, 2 Balcombe Street, London NW1 6NW


Tel: +44 (0)20 7042 4950 Fax: +44 (0)20 7486 5678

EDITORIAL
Editor: Alex Bentley, alex.bentley@futurenet.com
Staff Writer: Tommy Melville, tommy.melville@futurenet.com
netbooks or is there
life left in the humble
Staff Writer: Chris Barraclough, chris.barraclough@futurenet.com
Sub Editor: Dean Gurden
Art Editor: Kelly Day
Photography: Future Studios (London), Adrian Lyon

mini-laptop yet?
Contributors: Adam Hartley, Niall Magennis, Magictorch,
Simon Pickstock, Zac Gorman

Publisher: Charlotte Morgan


Group Senior Editor: Nick Merritt
Creative Director: Robin Abbott
Editorial Director: Jim Douglas
With the world in the grip of
ADVERTISING
Advertising Director: Robert Elms, robert.elms@futurenet.com the summer sports season, all
Advertising Sales Manager: Charlie Said, charlie.said@futurenet.com
Account Manager: Robert Williams, robert.williams@futurenet.com
eyes are xed on the World
Account Manager: Gary Clarke, gary.clarke@futurenet.com
Senior Sales Executive: Ben Pearson, ben.pearson@futurenet.com
Cup, Wimbledon and the Tour
Senior Sales Executive: Stephen Cutbill, stephen.cutbill@futurenet.com de France, among others, to
Sales Executive Richard Jewels, richard.jewels@futurenet.com
see who will bring home the
Call the Ad team: 020 7042 4000
trophies and take all the glory.
MARKETING
Group Marketing Manager: Philippa Newman, pjmontgomery@futurenet.com
But what if youre away from
Direct Marketing Manager: Nick Weatherall, nick.weatherall@futurenet.com home during that crucial match
Brand Marketing Manager: Daniel Bruce, daniel.bruce@futurenet.com
or race and dont want to miss
CIRCULATION
Circulation Manager: John Beeson
all the action? Thats where a
PRINT AND PRODUCTION
compact, 3G-equipped laptop can quickly become your
Production Manager: Ralph Stringer best friend. Offering high-speed wireless internet
Production Co-ordinator: Marie Quilter
Ad Co-ordinator: Jason Hockridge access wherever you travel, you need never miss a
LICENSING match again and can enjoy all the action as you travel.
Head of International Licensing: Tim Hudson, tim.hudson@futurenet.com
Tel: + 44 (0)1225 442244 Fax:+ 44 (0)1225 732275
Therefore, this issue weve reviewed four of the best
FUTURE PUBLISHING LIMITED
3G machines money can buy (see page 50).
Group Publisher: Stuart Anderton, stuart.anderton@futurenet.com The world seems to be equally xated on
Chief Operating Ofcer: Simon Wear
Chief Executive: Robert Price touchscreen devices and tablet PCs at the moment.
NEXT ISSUE ON SALE 30TH JULY 2010
In the wake of Apples long-awaited iPad release
Printed in the UK by Polestar Colchester on behalf of Future. Distributed in
reviewed on page 68 as well as Apple COO Tim Cooks
the UK by Seymour Distribution Ltd, 2 East Poultry Avenue, London EC1A statement that he cant think of a single thing a
9PT. Tel: 0207 429 4000
netbook does well, we have also taken a look at what
the fast-emerging touchscreen market will mean to the
Jan 2007 Dec 2007
Average Net Circulation
Per Issue 13,900

humble netbook. Has the iPad really sounded its death


Future produces carefully targeted magazines, websites knell or is there life left in the mini-laptop yet? See
and events for people with a passion. We publish more than
180 magazines, websites and events and we export or
page 80 for the full lowdown.
license our publications to 90 countries across the world. Of course, as always weve also got the best laptop-
buying advice you can nd, alongside the latest news
and reviews. So whatever your needs and however
much youve got to spend,
were here to help you nd your
Future Publishing Limited 2010. All rights reserved. No part of this magazine may be used or
reproduced without the written permission of the publisher. Future Publishing Limited (company perfect laptop at the right price.
number 2008885) is registered in England and Wales. The registered ofce of Future Publishing
Limited is at Beauford Court,30 Monmouth Street,Bath BA1 2BW. All information contained in this

LET US KNOW
magazine is for information only and is,as far as we are aware,correct at the time of going to press.
Future cannot accept any responsibility for errors or inaccuracies in such information. Readers are
advised to contact manufacturers and retailers directly with regard to the price of products/
services referred to in this magazine. If you submit unsolicited material to us,you automatically
grant Future a licence to publish your submission in whole or in part in all editions of the magazine,
including licensed editions worldwide and in any physical or digital format throughout the world. Unfortunately, we are unable to offer buying advice over the telephone
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Let us know what you think and what you would like to see more of
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WHAT LAPTOP ONLINE: www.whatlaptop.co.uk


Issue 139
August 2010

REGULARS SPECIAL REPORTS


07 EDITORS LETTER 14 SPEAKER SYSTEMS
Why not give your laptop and ears
10 MOBILE NEWS
an aural boost with some stylish
18 HOW WE TEST desktop speakers?

130 BAG REVIEWS


80 NETBOOK IN PERIL
The netbook is dead long live the iPad?
PORTABLE LIFE Is the mini laptop going to survive the

80 Your essential guide to making the


most of your portable device
arrival of the latest tablet devices?

63 VIDEO EDITING SOFTWARE


Edit your home movies in style with one
of these top-notch editing suites

92 LAPTOP DOCTOR
Solve your mobile maladies and portable
pains with a visit to the laptop doctor 86 MUST-HAVE FREE
APPLICATIONS
94 FRESHENING UP We take a look at
Reinvigorate your laptop with a complete some of the best free

86 Windows reinstall. We show you how programs out there

THE ONLY LAPTOP BUYERS GUIDE


FIRST-TIME BUYING ADVICE COMPLETE BUYERS TABLES

100 WHAT IS A LAPTOP?


Not sure where to start? We explain all you need to know

104 WHAT TYPE OF USER ARE YOU?


NOW
EVEN
Identify your needs and nd the best laptop at the right price

106 ESSENTIAL BUYING ADVICE EASIER


Important points to consider before purchasing your new laptop TO USE
108 LAPTOP GLOSSARY
Laptop technology and jargon made easy to understand

112 PROCESSORS EXPLORED


An in-depth comparison of the most popular mobile processors

113 GRAPHICS EXPLORED


A close examination of the most popular laptop graphics cards

8 WHAT LAPTOP August 2010


WIN A WORLD CUP MOBILE
2010 LAPTOP
WORTH UP TO 500 REVIEWS
See page 62 for full details This months kit on test

SUB-499 LAPTOPS
GROUP TEST
Acer Aspire 5542-304G32Bn ............. 26

24
Advent Verona SU ................................. 27
Asus K52F-SX065V ............................... 28
Samsung R530 ....................................... 29

GROUP TEST

SUB-499 SUB-899 LAPTOPS


GROUP TEST

LAPTOPS
Four feature-packed and
Acer 8935G-904G1TBwn ..................... 36
Apple MacBook ...................................... 37
Dell Inspiron 15R ................................... 38
affordable portables Mesh Edge DX11-R................................ 40
Samsung R780........................................ 42
get put to the test
Sony VAIO VPCEC2SOE/WI ................. 43

3G WIRELESS LAPTOPS

34
GROUP TEST
Fujitsu LifeBook P770.......................... 52
Lenovo ThinkPad T410s....................... 53
Sony VAIO VPCZ11Z9E/B..................... 54
GROUP TEST Toshiba Portg R600-149 ................. 56

SUB-899
LAPTOPS VIDEO EDITING
SOFTWARE
Powerful portables GROUP TEST
Adobe Premiere Elements 8 .............. 64
from some of the Corel VideoStudio Pro X3 ................... 64
worlds best and Cyberlink PowerDirector 8 Ultra...... 65
biggest brands Pinnacle Studio 14 HD Ultimate ...... 66
SonyVegasMovieStudio9PlatinumPro......67


50
GROUP TEST
FIRST LOOK REVIEWS
Apple iPad................................................ 68
Dell Precision M4500........................... 69
Advent Modena ...................................... 70

3G WIRELESS
Samsung X420 ....................................... 71
Acer Aspire 1825PTZ-413G25n ......... 72

LAPTOPS
MSI GX740................................................ 73
Fujitsu LifeBook S760.......................... 74
Hannspree SN10-E218............................. 75
Wireless broadband
connectivity ideal for enjoying
the World Cup on the move

August 2010 WHAT LAPTOP 9


MOBILE NEWS
All the latest news, products and services from the world of portable computing

Three for all


Fresh MSI offerings to cover a range of bases
MSI has announced three new machines for the third quarter
of the year, starting with the GT660 for gamers. The laptop
boasts powerful components, including a quad-core Intel Core i7
processor which you can overclock at the push of a button using
MSIs Turbo Drive Engine (TDE) technology and an nVidia GeForce
GTX 285M graphics card supported by 1024MB of video memory.
The 15.6-inch screen features a full high-definition (HD) 1920 x
1080 resolution and audio expert DynAudio has built the speaker
system in a bid to provide industry-leading sound quality. Available
at the end of July, pricing has yet to be confirmed.
The FX600 (pictured) is built with a no-compromise approach
to both tech and design, according to MSI, and three screen sizes
(14, 16 and 17-inch) will eventually be available. An Intel Core i5
processor provides the power, and nVidias Optimus technology
enabling the laptop to automatically switch between a dedicated
nVidia and integrated Intel HD graphics card is designed to
provide the best compromise between power and portability.
The MSI FX600 will retail for between 599 and 699 (inc. VAT),
and will also be available to purchase at the end of July.
The last of the laptops is an upgrade to last years X340 the remedied this with the X360 and has also introduced the popular
X360. This 13.4-inch business machine features a 1366 x 768-pixel isolated-keyboard style to the series. Available this summer, the
resolution screen and is powered by an Intel Core i5 processor. X360 will cost approximately 599 (inc. VAT).
The main selling point is the laptops size and, at only 20mm thick,
it is incredibly easy to slip into a bag or sleeve. Our main criticism MORE INFORMATION:
of the X340 was its very spongy keyboard, but MSI claims to have www.msi.com

Tesla joins the party


New UK laptop manufacturer hits the scene
Its been a while since weve witnessed the birth of a new laptop
manufacturer, yet thats exactly whats happened with the
arrival of UK-based Tesla. Focusing entirely on custom-built
laptops, the company offers gaming rigs, multimedia machines
and powerful workstations that are fully customisable to
your exact specification.
Keeping costs down by employing a range of generic
chassis, the company employs the latest components,
including nVidias brand new DirectX 11-compatible
GeForce GTX 480M graphics card, in a bid to help you get
as much bang for your buck as possible, with Intel Core
i7-powered machines starting at 649 (inc. VAT).

MORE INFORMATION:
www.teslanotebook.co.uk

10 WHAT LAPTOP August 2010


Dell Streaks on to tablet scene
Five-inch Android tablet takes on the iPad
Dell has released its 5-inch Streak tablet Theres a 5-megapixel camera with
just days after the iPad hit UK stores and, LED flash and up to 32GB of storage
although the Streak is essentially a large available via the Micro SD card slot.
smartphone, it packs in several features The 5-inch screen supports
missing on Apples device. multi-touch gesture control
For one, you can make calls on Dells and has a detailed 800 x 480-pixel
Android-based slate. The slim chassis will resolution, so watching video should be a
just about fit into larger pockets while, at sharp and enjoyable experience.
220g, its as light as a standard phone. Web browsing is possible via 802.11g Wi-
The Streak can also multi-task with the Fi or HSDPA, but youll need a data contract
growing library of Android applications, from O2 for the latter. The Dell Streak
with a 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon is out now from 399 (inc. VAT) without
processor the same as used in Googles contract, or free on a 24-month contract MORE INFORMATION:
Nexus One phone powering the device. starting at 25 per month (inc. VAT). www.dell.co.uk

Lenovo goes green


New eco-friendly ThinkPads are 40 per cent more energy efficient
Lenovo has turned eco warrior with its and 320GB of storage are also available.
new ThinkPad L-Series business laptops, Both laptops feature a true widescreen
which are made from recycled materials display with 1366 X 768-pixel resolution,
and are an estimated 40 per cent more so working on multiple documents side
energy efficient than previous models. by side should be a breeze. A choice
The 14-inch ThinkPad L412 and 15.6- of integrated or dedicated graphics is
inch L512 also have rugged builds both available with an ATi Mobility Radeon GPU
having passed eight different military in place on more expensive models.
specification tests for resisting extreme The ThinkPad L412 and L512 are
temperatures, vibration, altitude and dust. available now, starting at
The chassis may be impressive, but 722 and 735 (inc.
Lenovo also hasnt skimped on internal VAT) respectively.
components, with Intel Core i3 and i5
processors available in both machines. Up MORE INFORMATION:
to 4096MB of high-speed DDR3 memory www.lenovo.com/uk

Slim Samsungs for the summer


Q-Series laptops pack more power into less space
Samsungs Q-Series is to be boosted by dedicated nVidia GeForce graphics card for
three new thin and light laptops, offering improved multimedia performance.
the power of Intels Core i3 technology in At 2.3kg, the Q530 is the heaviest of the
a sturdy yet portable chassis. new arrivals, but still portable. Storage is
The smallest model is the ultraportable increased to 500GB, while a more powerful
13.3-inch Q330, which weighs just under nVidia GeForce graphics card is used.
2kg. The Core i3 CPU should offer fantastic All three models feature Samsungs
performance, backed up by 3072MB of isolated-style keyboard, with firm keys
memory and an integrated GPU for basic that we found a pleasure to type on.
multimedia tasks. Storage is plentiful at All three laptops are available this
320GB and it even includes a DVD drive. month, with pricing yet to be confirmed.
The 14-inch Q430 weighs just over 2kg,
but that extra space is put to good use MORE INFORMATION:
with 4096MB of memory available and a www.samsung.com/uk

August 2010 WHAT LAPTOP 11


Hi-def on the move
Acer unveils HD-compatible, AMD-powered netbook duo
With the netbook market already flooded and the 721 can be configured with a 1366
with Intel Atom-powered machines, x 768-pixel resolution for basic HD use.
Acer has taken a different approach and HDMI ports are also in place for connecting
launched two mini-laptops built around to an HDTV when back at home.
AMD and ATi technology and designed for Helping you stay connected on the
HD multimedia use the 10.1-inch Aspire move, high-speed wireless internet access
One 521 and the 11.6-inch Aspire One 721. is provided by 802.11n Wi-Fi and an optional
Based around AMDs 2010 HD Netbook integrated 3G module. The Aspire One
Platform, both models are powered by a 521 and 721 will be released
single-core 1.2GHz AMD V105 processor, later this summer, with
up to 4096MB of DDR3 memory and an ATi pricing still to be
Mobility Radeon HD 4225 graphics card, confirmed as we
making them among the best-equipped went to press.
netbooks you can currently buy.
With full widescreen 16:9 screens, both MORE INFORMATION:
models suit frequent entertainment use www.acer.co.uk

Multimedia made easy


Packard Bell adds to stylish EasyNote consumer range
Packard Bell has announced the Powered by a choice of Intel Core i3, i5
release of the EasyNote NM series and i7 processors, ample performance
a range of lightweight yet high- is promised and with graphics provided
powered 14.1-inch machines by a choice of integrated Intel GMA HD
based around Intels latest or dedicated nVidia GeForce GT 310M or
Core processors and offering 330M graphics cards, high-powered 3D
Full HD usability. performance is also guaranteed.
Available in a range All models feature a full widescreen 16:9
of colours, the 2.2kg display with an HDMI port for connecting
machines aim to to an HDTV. A Blu-ray drive is also available.
combine style and Available later this month, the EasyNote
mobility, with social NM will start at 479 (inc. VAT).
networking usability
provided by one-touch access to MORE INFORMATION:
Facebook, YouTube and Flickr. www.packardbell.co.uk

Rev your engines


Asus adds two new models to high-end Lamborghini range
Adding to its premium range of performance, while the 15.6-inch screen
Lamborghini-branded laptops, Asus has features a Full HD 1920 x 1080-pixel
announced the release of the Lamborghini resolution for the sharpest picture.
VX6 and VX7 a compact Intel Atom- Both models also include USB
powered 12.1-inch portable and a full-sized 3.0 and Bluetooth 3.0-compatibility
Intel Core-powered 15.5-inch powerhouse, as standard for connecting external
both with full Lamborghini styling. peripherals at the fastest speeds.
Powered by a 1.8GHz Intel Atom D525 The Asus Lamborghini VX6 and
processor, up to 4096MB of DDR3 memory VX7 are expected to launch
and nVidia ION 2 graphics, the VX6 aims to next month with pricing still
provide ample power plus mobility. to be confirmed as we went
In contrast, the larger VX7 can be to press.
bought with a choice of Intel Core i3, i5
and i7 processors and up to a staggering MORE INFORMATION:
16,384MB of DDR3 memory for maximum www.asus.com

12 WHAT LAPTOP August 2010


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DESKTOP SPEAKERS
Give your laptop an audio boost with one of these great speaker sets

Sony SRS GD50ip


This high-end offering from Sony not
only produces fantastic audio, but also
features a control station that doubles
as a dock for your iPod, giving you the
exibility to listen from your MP3 player
as well as laptop. The two unobtrusive
satellite speakers are supplemented by a
subwoofer, and the combination provides
a much subtler sound than the Altec
Lansing, JBL and Logitech offerings here. A
great product although the price is high.
195 (inc. VAT)
www.sony.co.uk

LoGitech Z520
Not the most attractive system
here, these speakers also produce a
disappointingly unimpressive sound. Music
sounds rather tinny and although the
speakers go very loud, sound quality drops
rapidly the more you boost the volume.
However, the volume/control wheel on the
face of the right speaker is the quickest
and easiest along with the Sonys to
access here, making these speakers
ergonomically friendly, if nothing else.
80 (inc. VAT)
www.logitech.com

JBL Duet iii


Similar in size to the Altec Lansings,
although with a less aggressive style, the
JBL Duet IIIs produce a great all-round
sound to suit all genres of music. Very easy
to set up, they look great in pretty much
any surrounding, and we also really liked
the wheel positioned on top of the right
speaker, which switches on the system
and also controls the volume its much
more intuitive than the buttons found on
the Altec Lansing Expressionist Bass.
120 (inc. VAT)
www.pcworld.co.uk

14 WHAT LAPTOP August 2010


Group test Desktop Speakers

teufeL concept c200 uSB


We were a little unimpressed by these
speakers. The sound produced is good
enough, but is no more impressive than
either the Sony or Creative systems here.
More importantly, theyre not the easiest
to set up and, although speaker wire is
included, you have to hook the whole
thing up yourself, which may well put off
those who simply want a plug-and-play
option. The included subwoofer is also
pretty large, and may get in the way on
or under the average desk.
100 (inc. VAT)
www.teufelaudio.com

cReAtive inSpiRe
S2 WiReLeSS
This great system uses wireless Bluetooth
technology to connect to your laptop. A
Bluetooth USB adapter plugs into a spare
USB port and then synchronises with the
speakers and subwoofer. Synchronisation
was a little ddly but, once hooked up, the
system was easy to use. They are great
if you want to use your laptop in bed, for
example, and still benet from decent
audio. We found sound quality excellent
and on par with the Sony here.
100 (inc. VAT)
www.creative.com

ALtec LAnSinG
expReSSioniSt BASS
Looking like a pair of Daleks, these stylish
speakers are great for bass lovers. Each
unit has an in-built subwoofer and the
result is astonishing. Sound is clear across
the full audio spectrum, with hip-hop
and other bass-heavy genres sounding
particularly impressive. Strangely, the
speakers arent nearly as loud as the
Creatives, however, and we found the
volume controls positioned on top of
the right speaker arent the easiest or
quickest to reach and use.
65 (inc. VAT)
www.pcworld.co.uk

August 2010 WHAT LAPTOP 15


HOW WE TEST Its important that we test every mobile machine to discover exactly how
effective it is. Here we explain what makes What Laptop the success it is

THE QUALITY OF DESIGN


We begin by examining a laptops design to
see how strong it feels to the touch and Does the specication and build meet This is a combination of standard
whether it fulls the role it was designed the expectation of the end price? ports, as well as attention to detail
for. The overall build quality is important, for specic needs.
so we go to great lengths to test the
strength and durability of each system we
review. We also assess the functionality of Does the laptop handle tasks well, Is it robust and sturdy enough for life
all ports, switches and latches. The quality given the asking price and reviewed at home and out on the road?
of the screen is also considered, with specication?
checks for brightness, evenness
of tone, as well as any dead pixels This rating is not an average, but a
identied. The nal part of our initial tests VALUE FOR MONEY 8 score of how well the laptop handled
PERFORMANCE 9
deals with the overall weight of the FEATURES 8
in general. As a quick guide, the
machine and its relative portability. BUILD QUALITY 8 overall rating means:
Next, we assess usability of the
machine, including the quality of the
OVERALL 8 Rating : 1
D.O.A (Dead on arrival)
keyboard, touchpad and user interface. Rating : 2
These tests have a direct effect on how Serious aws ignore at all costs
we score each laptop. On the review page, Rating : 3
under the statistics, you will nd Flawed system do not buy
our ratings for each machine. Each Rating : 4
category is scored ranging from Minor aws best used as a backup
one to ten, with ten being the best Rating : 5
score possible. Average performance
If youre new to laptops, you may Rating : 6
well appreciate a little help, so we All-round user-friendly machine
have introduced an easy-to-use Rating : 7
guide, which breaks each laptop Excels in one or two areas
down into its most suited purpose. This is a Rating : 8
combination of price, specication, features Outstanding performance
and the key benets of each machine. Rating : 9
So if youre after a laptop for a certain Surpasses all expectations
purpose or just not too sure what you need, Rating : 10
we can make your buying decision easier. The perfect laptop!

WHAT LAPTOP AWARDS


With testing complete, each laptop is brought out of the test labs and used in daily life. What Laptop is the only magazine that tests
its laptops in this way. Only once the review is complete, do we decide whether the system is truly worthy of a What Laptop award.

The award that every Often given to a Its not only group tests
reader should look slightly cheaper that get awards, as
out for. This award option, the winner any product we feel
highlights excellence, of this award will exceeds its given
and is given to the machine in any group test generally be excellent and provide a strong criteria and helps enhance the life of the
we feel meets or exceeds the criteria set. and reliable choice. While a few aws will mobile user can be given this award. Whether
The winner offers outstanding performance have prevented it from the top score, these a laptop, handheld or peripheral, it must
and build quality, and its general usability wont take away from its strengths. If the surpass expectations, both in terms of
exceeds expectations, making it the ideal Gold Award winner isnt ideal for your needs, performance and price. If you see this badge,
choice for its target user. this laptop is offered as an alternative. we consider it an essential purchase.

18 WHAT LAPTOP August 2010


HOW WE TEST

BENCHMARK MACHINES
Once the hands-on part of our testing
has been dealt with (see previous page),
the laptop will spend up to 72 hours in our
test labs being run through a series of
Review benchmarks to check overall performance.
specication Each machine is set at the same exact
performance level, with screen brightness
set to its mid-point. This way, we can
judge how effectively it will run in most
Benchmark situations. The software we use comes
results in two parts. The rst, MobileMark 2007,
tests the internal components, while
3DMark 2003 is specically designed for
testing the laptops graphics sub-system.
Overall
ratings BENCHMARK RESULTS
As every laptop is tested on a level playing
eld, once it has been benchmarked it can
What Laptop easily be compared to its peers. Each
awards review is accompanied by the test results
for that machine, along with our own
standard benchmark laptop. Our test
machine is a 739 (inc. VAT) system that
we feel best typies a mid-range laptop.

MOBILEMARK 2007 SCORES


User type 100150: Suitable for basic ofce tasks,
See page 104 for
more info such as email and internet use
151200: Ideal for day-to-day use,
including multi-tasking
201250+: High performance with
BAPCo MobileMark 2007 Futuremark 3DMark 2003 comprehensive abilities for all tasks

BATTERY LIFE MINUTES


Review Machine 201
Benchmark Machine 201

MOBILEMARK 2007
Review Machine 276
Benchmark Machine 210

BAPCo MobileMark 2007 Futuremark 3DMark 2003


3DMARK 2003
BAPCos MobileMark 2007 software tests In order to test graphics we use the Review Machine 5127
Benchmark Machine 1765
mobile performance and battery life, industry standard, Futuremark 3DMark.
using some of the most popular ofce 3DMark 2003 represents our default Every review comes with its own benchmark ratings
applications in real-world situations. benchmark, as this is capable of running
Firstly, all laptops are optimised for on high-end dedicated GPUs, as well
peak performance, which includes as low-level integrated solutions.
conditioning the hard drive and battery. Specialised tests, such as Gaming group 3DMARK 2003 SCORES

With the laptops battery fully tests, receive further testing with up-to- 04000: Basic ability for ofce use
charged, the mains power is then date 3DMark Vantage software. 400010,000: Mid-level graphics
disconnected. MobileMark then With each laptop optimised for peak 10,00115,000: Strong performance for
simulates day-to-day use until performance, we then run the relevant basic 3D games
the battery runs dry. On reboot, a 3DMark tests. Unlike MobileMark, graphics 15,00125,000: Excellent graphics for all
performance score is generated, along tests are run on mains power to give a gaming and multimedia use
with the exact time in minutes the reection of how you are most likely to 25,00140,000+: Outstanding graphics to
battery lasted before dying. use the graphics card when gaming. rival high-powered desktop PCs

August 2010 WHAT LAPTOP 19


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London, NW1 6NW. Please include your full contact details in all correspondence. Letters and emails may be edited for space.

The page where we turn the magazine over to you


Dear Dear

STRI
P
I want to buy a laptop STAR I am currently in the market to buy my Each month we award our

A ZE
LETTER

R
for use both indoors and rst laptop and have been reading your Star Letter a great prize.
outdoors, so I would like magazine to help me nd exactly the This month were offering the
all the advantages of a right machine. I think your Buyers Guide excellent PNY 16GB Optima High
vibrant, glossy Super- is excellent and makes it very easy to cut Speed SD HC Card, worth 25.
TFT screen with the convenience of a through all the technical jargon. I nally This capacious ash storage device
non-reective matt screen. My questions decided that I liked the look of the Lenovo ts neatly into your pocket and
are: are some Super-TFT screens usable G550, which I understand was reviewed provides ample space for carrying your
in bright conditions; if I want to work in Issue 133, but I have tried various local favourite songs, videos and photos
outdoors, should I only use a matt screen; newsagents in case someone still had a wherever you travel. Compatible
do LED backlit screens offer an advantage copy, but have had no luck. I can also nd with Windows, Mac and Linux laptops
in bright conditions; are there any other no reference to buying back issues in your and desktop PCs, you can enjoy
products that can make a glossy screen magazine, so could you advise me if you maximum compatibility, no matter
usable in outdoor conditions? have a back issues department so that I which computer you connect to. With a
Andy Walker, via email can get a copy of this issue and review? stunning 16GB of storage on offer, you
David Craggs, via email can easily store as much as four hours
While all Super-TFT screens are glossy, we of high-denition video and thousands
nd some are less reective than others The Lenovo G550 is certainly a great entry- of high-resolution digital photos.
and easier to use outdoors. A matt nish level machine and one that we liked so For more information on the PNY
is the best choice if you want to eliminate much we awarded it our Gold award in our 16GB Optima High Speed SD HC Card
reections entirely though. Some laptops, Sub-399 laptop group test at the start visit www.play.com
such as Toshibas Portg R600 and Sonys of the year. With its great combination
VAIO Z-Series (see our group test on of usability, power and mobility, we felt
page 48), are the ideal solution, as they that it ticked nearly all the boxes required
combine a matt nish with the vibrancy of a family laptop, making it very easy to
of a Super-TFT, but you will often pay a recommend. With regards to obtaining
premium. Backlit LED screens offer a good back issues of What Laptop, Im afraid we
advantage, as they are much brighter than do not sell printed copies of back issues.
standard screens, so when combined with We do, however, offer digital copies, which
a matt nish they can easily be viewed in are available online from gb.zinio.com, with
bright conditions. Finally, products such as available issues currently dating back to
the 3M Privacy Filter (www.3m.com) can September 2009. You can also subscribe
reduce glare and make a glossy Super-TFT to What Laptop online to be sure that you
screen usable in outdoor conditions. never miss an issue again.

22 WHAT LAPTOP August 2010


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  A"
GROUP TEST

E-CODE 4718235280345
ACER Aspire 5542-304G32Bn
SUPPLIER WWW.BESTBUY.CO.UK PRICE 499 (inc. VAT) DELIVERY CHARGE In-store only
TELEPHONE 0333 777 7777
PROCESSOR AMD 2GHZ ATHLON II M300
MEMORY
HARD DRIVE
4096MB DDR2 SDRAM
320GB (5400RPM)
IN BRIEF: Subdued performance, but a strong
OPTICAL DRIVE
SCREEN SIZE AND TYPE
BLU-RAY (READ)
15.6-INCH SUPER-TFT
build and an excellent set of features
DISPLAY RESOLUTION 1366 X 768 (WXGA)
SUB-499 LAPTOPS

GRAPHICS CARD ATI MOBILITY RADEON HD 4200


DIMENSIONS
WEIGHT
384 X 239 X 40MM
2.7KG
A cers Aspire range covers everything
from entry-level value laptops to
high-performance multimedia models. The
are also impressive, with 802.11n Wi-Fi and
Gigabit Ethernet available for wireless and
wired connections respectively. However,
WIRELESS LAN 802.11N
ETHERNET GIGABIT Aspire 5542-304G32Bn (499 inc. VAT) portability is sadly limited by an average
USB PORTS 4 is a budget machine that packs in some 199-minute battery life and 2.7kg weight,
FIREWIRE NO unexpected features at a low price point. so this is a laptop built to stay at home.
OPERATING SYSTEM WINDOWS 7 HOME PREMIUM
One of the stand-out features is the Performance is unfortunately another
STANDARD WARRANTY 1 YR RTB P&L
inclusion of a Blu-ray drive, a rarity for weak point, and falls short of the Asus and
laptops at this price and the only one Samsung laptops in this group. The AMD
to be found in this group test. While the Athlon II processor still provides enough
BENCHMARKS 1366 x 768-pixel screen resolution is not power for running ofce applications and
enough to take full advantage of the high- basic multi-tasking however, so anyone
BATTERY LIFE MINUTES
Acer 199 denition visuals, images are still crisp and who wants to edit their spreadsheets or
Benchmark Machine 201 the 15.6-inch LED backlit Super-TFT display surf the web will be more than satised.
provides rich and vibrant colours. This is also the sole laptop in this group
MOBILEMARK 2007
Acer 137 Other features also impress, including to feature a graphics card from ATi rather
Benchmark Machine 210 the 5-in-1 memory card reader and four than Intel. While 3D performance is no
USB ports, letting you easily connect better than the Asus or Samsung, it is
3DMARK 2003
Acer 3620 external storage and peripherals. The sufcient for basic gaming and running
Benchmark Machine 1765 320GB hard drive is enough for storing a simple photo and video editing software.
large number of songs and videos, while
See page 44 for benchmark specication leaving space for essential applications. Strong usability
This is also the only laptop in this Usability is a denite strength, with
VALUE FOR MONEY 7 group besides the Advent to feature Acer's usual raised keyboard design in
PERFORMANCE 5
Bluetooth for wirelessly transferring place. Although the at keys may not suit
FEATURES 8
BUILD QUALITY 7 les with devices such as mobile phones, everyones tastes, we found them intuitive
or connecting a Bluetooth headset for thanks to the size and travel of the keys.
OVERALL 6 chatting online. Networking capabilities The only downside is the gaps between
each key, which lets in dirt and other
debris. The touchpad is one of the largest
in this group, although easy to brush while
typing. Thankfully theres a button for
disabling the pad when not needed.
Overall, the Aspire 5542-304G32Bn
What type of is a feature-packed and highly usable
user are you?
See page 104 laptop that is only let down by limited
power and portability. As a cheap desktop
replacement for use at home it is unlikely
to disappoint, provided performance and
battery life arent a priority.

HARD DRIVE
This is where your laptops operating
system, applications and les are all
stored. Unlike the memory, which is a
temporary storage that is wiped when
the laptop is turned off, the hard drive
retains all its data when powered
down. Most laptops come with a
minimum of 250GB storage these days.

26 WHAT LAPTOP August 2010


GROUP TEST

ADVENT Verona SU E-CODE 069912


PRICE 380 (inc. VAT) DELIVERY CHARGE Free SUPPLIER WWW.PCWORLD.CO.UK
TELEPHONE 0844 561 0000
PROCESSOR INTEL 1.2GHZ CELERON SU2300

IN BRIEF: A lightweight CULV machine, but let MEMORY


HARD DRIVE
2048MB DDR2 SDRAM
250GB (5400RPM)

down by a disappointingly poor battery life OPTICAL DRIVE


SCREEN SIZE AND TYPE
NO
13.3-INCH SUPER-TFT
DISPLAY RESOLUTION 1366 X 768 (WXGA)

SUB-499 LAPTOPS
P C Worlds in-house Advent brand
specialises in entry-level laptops for
buyers on a budget. The Advent Verona
here, however, and is as sharp as it is
bright. Photographs look particularly good
considering the budget price, thanks to
GRAPHICS CARD
DIMENSIONS
WEIGHT
INTEL GMA 4500M
335 X 204 X 28MM
1.7KG
WIRELESS LAN 802.11N
SU (380 inc. VAT) is by far the most the use of a glossy Super-TFT coating. ETHERNET 10/100
affordable machine in this group test, but Features are unfortunately another USB PORTS 3
it suffers in terms of power and features. weak point. The 250GB hard drive is the FIREWIRE NO
OPERATING SYSTEM WINDOWS 7 HOME PREMIUM
An ultra-low voltage Intel Celeron least capacious here although it should
STANDARD WARRANTY 1 YR RTB P&L
processor powers this laptop and offers still prove ample for most needs but a
signicantly worse performance than its bigger problem is the lack of an optical
rivals in this group. Basic ofce tasks run drive. This means youll need to carry an
ne, but we noticed plenty of slowdown external USB drive if you want to play DVDs BENCHMARKS
with more resource-intensive applications. or CDs, or run applications from a disc.
BATTERY LIFE MINUTES
3D performance also trails behind the Wireless networking is suitably quick Advent 158
other machines in this group, providing with 802.11n Wi-Fi on board, and this is the Benchmark Machine 201

just enough power for basic photo editing. only laptop besides the Acer to include
MOBILEMARK 2007
built-in Bluetooth. However, only 10/100 Advent 112
Woeful battery Ethernet is available for wired connections, Benchmark Machine 210

With an ultra-low voltage CPU in place, just like the Samsung. This is also the only
3DMARK 2003
we expected excellent battery life as a laptop here not to feature an HDMI port for Advent 1567
trade-off against the limited performance. outputting to a high-denition (HD) display. Benchmark Machine 1765

However, the laptop only survived for 158 A strong screen and decent build
minutes away from the mains a truly are sadly not enough to make up for See page 44 for benchmark specication
awful result so youll need to always the Verona SU's limited performance,
carry the power charger with you. The battery life and features. This is a possible VALUE FOR MONEY 6
PERFORMANCE 5
chassis is the thinnest and lightest here, consideration for those on a strict budget
FEATURES 5
however, which boosts portability slightly. who require something a little more BUILD QUALITY 6
A glossy, patterned design has been powerful than a netbook, but others
used, which stands out from the more should look elsewhere.
OVERALL 5
conservative designs in this group test.
A decent-sized keyboard is in place,
although theres no separate numeric
keypad. The touchpad is smooth and
user-friendly, despite slightly stiff mouse
buttons. This is also the only laptop here
to feature a touch-sensitive panel of What type of
user are you?
buttons for control of multimedia les. See page 104
Since the Advent has the smallest
chassis in this group, a compact 13.3-inch
screen has been used. This has the same
1366 x 768-pixel resolution as its rivals

PROCESSOR
The processor (or CPU) is effectively
the brain of your laptop, and is required
to carry out all of the instructions
needed to be able to run programs. The
latest CPUs are quad or dual-core
with four or two processing cores on
one chip so you can multi-task easily
without the laptop slowing down.

August 2010 WHAT LAPTOP 27


GROUP TEST

E-CODE 2485928
ASUS K52F-SX065V
SUPPLIER WWW.SAVEONLAPTOPS.CO.UK PRICE 496 (inc. VAT) DELIVERY CHARGE Free
TELEPHONE 0121 260 0046
PROCESSOR INTEL 2.26GHZ CORE I3 350M
MEMORY
HARD DRIVE
4096MB DDR3 SDRAM
320GB (5400RPM)
IN BRIEF: Impressive performance and
OPTICAL DRIVE
SCREEN SIZE AND TYPE
TRI-FORMAT DVD DL
15.6-INCH SUPER-TFT
portability at a very reasonable price
DISPLAY RESOLUTION 1366 X 768 (WXGA)
SUB-499 LAPTOPS

GRAPHICS CARD
DIMENSIONS
WEIGHT
INTEL GMA HD
382 X 240 X 40MM
2.7KG
T he Asus K52F-SX065V (496 inc. VAT)
is a 15.6-inch laptop that packs a
cutting-edge Intel Core i3 processor and
did dip, however, to 144 minutes when
watching DVDs. The 2.7kg chassis is one of
the largest and heaviest here, so you may
WIRELESS LAN 802.11N
ETHERNET GIGABIT manages to greatly impress with a long- not wish to carry it far, but at least it won't
USB PORTS 3 lasting battery and high-quality build. quickly run out of battery power if you do.
FIREWIRE NO The Core i3 processor is designed to
OPERATING SYSTEM WINDOWS 7 HOME PREMIUM
STANDARD WARRANTY 2 YRS GLOBAL C&R P&L
provide impressive performance at a Solid build
budget price and the results here are Build quality is solid in almost all respects
stunning and no doubt helped by the and on par with the Samsung, with a
4096MB of system memory an amount rm chassis that shows minimal ex
BENCHMARKS equalled only by the Acer in this group under pressure and a thick lid for extra
test. The Asus scored far higher in our protection. The keyboard does ex in the
BATTERY LIFE MINUTES
Asus 261 benchmarking tests than the Acer and the centre, which gives it a slightly spongy
Benchmark Machine 201 Advent, and even managed to marginally feel, but the isolated-style keys are great
beat off the Samsung which also comes for touch-typing. The touchpad is just as
MOBILEMARK 2007
Asus 218 tted with a Core i3 CPU so we had no usable, with a wide area and a perfectly
Benchmark Machine 210 problem during testing when multi-tasking rm single bar for the mouse buttons.
with resource-hungry applications. Theres no built-in Bluetooth as there
3DMARK 2003
Asus 3513 Graphical performance from the is with the Acer and Advent laptops, but
Benchmark Machine 1765
integrated Intel GPU also impresses, high-speed 802.11n Wi-Fi and Gigabit
and is almost on par with the Acer which Ethernet are available for networking.
See page 44 for benchmark specication
features a chip from GPU specialist ATi, HDMI and VGA outputs are available,
so theres more than enough power for as well as three USB ports and a 3-in-1
VALUE FOR MONEY 8 running basic 3D games and applications. memory card reader. The built-in DVD drive
PERFORMANCE 8
Despite the impressive performance, allows you to watch movies on the go.
FEATURES 7
BUILD QUALITY 7 battery life also managed to come out the The 15.6-inch screen is the same size
best in this group test, with 261 minutes as the Acer and the Samsungs, and a
OVERALL 7 of power on offer between charges. This little larger than the Advents. While the
Advents screen was a little brighter, this
display still produces fantastic images,
with colours springing from photographs,
although outdoor use is inevitably
hampered by reections, as with most
glossy Super-TFT displays.
What type of The Asus K52F-SX065V is a great-
user are you?
See page 104 performing laptop at a truly budget price
and it all comes at no cost to battery
life. The solid build may be a little heavy
for regular commuting, but it offers good
protection and great usability.

GPU
Graphical Processing Unit is another
name for a graphics card, which is
responsible for 3D performance in your
laptop. An integrated GPU is a basic,
budget option which uses the main
system memory, whereas a dedicated
graphics card has its own on-board
memory for faster performance.

28 WHAT LAPTOP August 2010


GROUP TEST

SAMSUNG R530 E-CODE NP-R530-JB01UK


PRICE 475 (inc. VAT) DELIVERY CHARGE 10 SUPPLIER WWW.LAPTOPSDIRECT.CO.UK
TELEPHONE 0871 970 0005
PROCESSOR INTEL 2.13GHZ CORE I3 330M

IN BRIEF: A sturdy entry-level laptop powered MEMORY


HARD DRIVE
3072MB DDR2 SDRAM
320GB (5400 RPM)

by a high-performance Intel Core i3 processor OPTICAL DRIVE


SCREEN SIZE AND TYPE
TRI-FORMAT DVD DL
15.6-INCH SUPER-TFT
DISPLAY RESOLUTION 1366 X 768 (WXGA)

SUB-499 LAPTOPS
S amsung has an ever-growing range
of impressive consumer laptops and
the R530 tested here (475 inc. VAT), is a
alongside speedy 802.11n Wi-Fi, and theres
no Bluetooth support as there is with the
Acer and the Advent in this group test.
GRAPHICS CARD
DIMENSIONS
WEIGHT
INTEL GMA HD
380 X 244 X 38MM
2.4KG
WIRELESS LAN 802.11N
smart entry-level portable powered by a ETHERNET 10/100
high-performance Intel Core i3 processor. Widescreen display USB PORTS 3
The 2.13GHz Core i3 chip is a slightly The 15.6-inch Super-TFT screen is almost FIREWIRE NO
OPERATING SYSTEM WINDOWS 7 HOME PREMIUM
different variant to the one found in the identical to the Asus and not quite as
STANDARD WARRANTY 1 YR C&R P&L
Asus in this group test and runs at a lower bright as the displays on the Acer and the
clock speed. Nevertheless, its dual-core Advent. However, its widescreen aspect
design provides performance to rival all ratio is perfect for watching lms and
but the Asus in this group, ensuring the working on multiple documents side by BENCHMARKS
Samsung has more than enough power side, and images are suitably sharp.
BATTERY LIFE MINUTES
for multi-tasking with resource-heavy Build quality is the Samsungs greatest Samsung 224
applications, comfortably managing to strength, with a solid chassis that proves Benchmark Machine 201

beat both the Acer and the Advent. lighter than the Acer and Asus. The
MOBILEMARK 2007
3D performance doesnt quite match keyboard features well-sized keys and is Samsung 210
the Acer and Asus, but is strides ahead of especially rm and pleasant to type on, Benchmark Machine 210

the Advent. This certainly isnt a gaming while the blue highlighted touchpad is
3DMARK 2003
machine, although basic or older games responsive to the touch, although easily Samsung 3247
run ne, but theres still plenty of power brushed while typing. This laptop also feels Benchmark Machine 1765

on offer for multimedia tasks and high- as if it could handle a few bumps during
denition (HD) video plays perfectly. transport with no adverse effects. See page 44 for benchmark specication
Battery life is also second to the Overall, the Samsung R530 is a user-
Asus, with 224 minutes of life between friendly laptop, which almost equals the VALUE FOR MONEY 7
PERFORMANCE 8
charges. This is easily over what we would best in this group in terms of performance
FEATURES 6
expect from a modern laptop, although and battery life. The build quality is BUILD QUALITY 8
youll still need to pack the charger on especially impressive and the features on
longer journeys. Surprisingly, this laptop offer will suit most needs.
OVERALL 7
did manage to survive the longest while
playing DVDs, with 167 minutes of life
compared to the Asus 144 minutes.
When it comes to features, this machine
has everything that most people require
at this price range. VGA and HDMI ports
allow external displays to be used at home What type of
user are you?
or in the ofce, while three USB ports are See page 104
available for peripherals and an SD card
slot can be used to view media directly
from your portable devices. However,
only standard 10/100 Ethernet is available

SUPER-TFT
A glossy screen coating designed to
produce brighter and more vibrant
images than a standard TFT screen.
This is perfect for viewing photos or
watching movies, but the coating does
enhance reectivity, which makes it
hard to work in bright conditions and
greatly limits outdoor use.

August 2010 WHAT LAPTOP 29


GROUP TEST

CLOSE UP ON: SUB-499 LAPTOPS


Here we look at the relative build qualities of our test machines

ASUS K52F-SX065V ACER ASPIRE 5542-304G32BN


Build quality 7 Build quality 7
SUB-499 LAPTOPS

This is the only laptop in this group test to feature an isolated-style A wide and highly usable touchpad is in place on the Acer and a
keyboard which is excellent for touch-typing, thanks to its clearly separate scrollbar to the right of the pad can be used for scrolling up
dened keys that stand out from the chassis. Asus has also included and down inside documents or internet pages. A button to the side
a separate numeric keypad on the right-hand side of the chassis for lets you switch off the touchpad when typing, so you can avoid
data entry, as has Acer and Samsung in this group test. accidentally brushing the pad with your palms and moving the cursor.

ADVENT VERONA SU SAMSUNG R530


Build quality 6 Build quality 8

The Advent is the only laptop in this group test to include a separate The Samsungs chassis is reassuringly solid throughout, with a
touch-sensitive panel of multimedia keys just above the keyboard for brushed aluminium nish to the plastic interior that makes it look as
pausing and skipping through movies and songs. You can also turn sturdy as it feels. The lid is also quite thick, which helps to protect the
the system volume up or down, which saves you ddling around with display from damage during transport, and features an attractive and
the volume controls in your software media player. eye-catching red patterned nish.

30 WHAT LAPTOP August 2010


GROUP TEST

DETAILS Acer Advent Asus Sa msung


Aspire 5542-304G32Bn Verona SU K52F-SX065V R530
PRICE 499 (425 ex. VAT) 380 (323 ex. VAT) 496 (422 ex. VAT) 475 (405 ex. VAT)
ECODE 4718235280345 069912 2485928 NP-R530-JB01UK
DELIVERY In-store only Free Free 10
SUPPLIER www.bestbuy.co.uk www.pcworld.co.uk www.saveonlaptops.co.uk www.laptopsdirect.co.uk
PHONE 0333 777 7777 0844 561 0000 0121 260 0046 0871 970 0005
SPECIFICATIONS

SUB-499 LAPTOPS
PROCESSOR AMD 2GHz Athlon II M300 Intel 1.2GHz Celeron SU2300 Intel 2.26GHz Core i3 350M Intel 2.13GHz Core i3 330M
MEMORY 4096MB DDR2 SDRAM 2048MB DDR2 SDRAM 4096MB DDR3 SDRAM 3072MB DDR2 SDRAM
HARD DRIVE 320GB (5400rpm) 250GB (5400rpm) 320GB (5400rpm) 320GB (5400rpm)
PRICE OF EXTRA BATTERY N/A N/A N/A N/A
SCREEN SIZE & TYPE 15.6-inch Super-TFT 13.3-inch Super-TFT 15.6-inch Super -TFT 15.6-inch Super -TFT
NATIVE RESOLUTION 1366 x 768 (WXGA) 1366 x 768 (WXGA) 1366 x 768 (WXGA) 1366 x 768 (WXGA)
(PIXELS)
GRAPHICS ADAPTER ATi Mobility Radeon HD 4200 Intel GMA 4500M Intel GMA HD Intel GMA HD
VIDEO MEMORY 256MB (Dedicated) 780MB (Shared) 1696MB (Shared) 1274MB (Shared)
OPTICAL DRIVE Blu-ray (read) No Tri-Format DVD DL Tri-Format DVD DL
OPERATING SYSTEM Windows 7 Home Premium Windows 7 Home Premium Windows 7 Home Premium Windows 7 Home Premium
BASIC WARRANTY 1 yr RTB P&L 1 yr RTB P&L 2 yrs Global C&R P&L 1 yr C&R P&L
WARRANTY UPGRADE N/A Various options available 3 yrs Global C&R P&L (90) 3 yrs C&R P&L (64)
DIMENSIONS (W X H X D) 384 x 239 x 40mm 335 x 204 x 28mm 382 x 240 x 40mm 380 x 244 x 38 mm
WEIGHT (kg ) 2.7kg 1.7kg 2.7kg 2.4kg
PORTS
PC CARDS No No No No
MEDIA CARDS 5-in-1 4-in-1 3-in-1 SD
WLAN 802.11n 802.11n 802.11n 802.11n
ETHERNET Gigabit 10/100 Gigabit 10/100
MODEM Yes No No No
BLUETOOTH Yes Yes No No
USB 4 3 3 3
FIREWIRE No No No No
INFRARED No No No No
VGA OUT Yes Yes Yes Yes
DVI OUT No No No No
HDMI Yes No Yes Yes
S- VIDEO No No No No
POINTING DEVICE TP TP TP TP
BUNDLED SOFTWARE Microsoft Works, NTI Media Microsoft Works, various CyberLink Disc Suite, various Microsoft Works, CyberLink DVD
Maker and Backup Now, various Advent applications Asus applications Suite, McAfee SecurityCenter
Acer applications
CARRY CASE No No No No
ADDITIONAL EXTRAS Integrated camera Integrated camera Integrated camera Integrated camera
TEST RESULTS
BATTERY LIFE (Mins) 199 158 261 224
MOBILEMARK 2007 137 112 218 210
3DMARK 2003 3620 1567 3513 3247
RATINGS
VALUE FOR MONEY 7 6 8 7
PERFORMANCE 5 5 8 8
FEATURES 8 5 7 6
BUILD QUALITY 7 6 7 8
OVERALL RATINGS 6 5 7 7

August 2010 WHAT LAPTOP 31


GROUP TEST

BATTERY LIFE (MINS) OFFICE SUB-499 LAPTOP


The typical battery life of the laptop
AWARD WINNERS
when running standard ofce tasks At such low prices, it would be easy to have low expectations, but
all the laptops in this group test prove that cheap needn't mean
ACER ASPIRE 5542-304G32BN 199 useless. While none are powerful enough for more demanding use,
they are ideal for family use at home, and are some of the best
SUB-499 LAPTOPS

ADVENT VERONA SU 158


bargains we've seen in a while. Two systems stand out from the
ASUS K52F-SX065V 261 crowd, however, providing fantastic value for money.

GOLD AWARD
SAMSUNG R530 224

BENCHMARK 201

0 100 200 300


Asus K52F-SX065V
BATTERY LIFE (MINS) DVD

DVD The typical battery life of the laptop when


running continuous DVD playback

ACER ASPIRE 5542-304G32BN 136

ADVENT VERONA SU N/A

ASUS K52F-SX065V 144

SAMSUNG R530 167

BENCHMARK 154

0 100 150 200


As far as laptops at this price point go, the Asus K52F-
SX065V is one of the very best. The Intel Core i3 processor
MOBILEMARK 2007 is a stunning performer, ably backed up by 4096MB of
2
3
4 5 6
7
8
speedy DDR3 memory, while 3D performance and battery
1

This test reects how well each laptop life are also unchallenged in this group. A worthy winner.
0

handles tasks when on battery power

ACER ASPIRE 5542-304G32BN 137

ADVENT VERONA SU 112


SILVER AWARD
ASUS K52F-SX065V 218 Samsung R530
SAMSUNG R530 210

BENCHMARK 210

0 100 150 200 250

3DMARK 2003

A good 3D score can mean the difference


between good and bad graphics

ACER ASPIRE 5542-304G32BN 3620

ADVENT VERONA SU 1567

ASUS K52F-SX065V 3513 The Samsung R530 is a fantastic budget laptop that
delivers excellent performance and is portable enough for
SAMSUNG R530 3247
regular travel, thanks to a light but solid chassis. Sadly its
BENCHMARK 1765 just edged out by the Asus in a number of areas, including
power and battery life, but is still well worth its Silver award.
0 2000 4000 6000

32 WHAT LAPTOP August 2010


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DVD-RW / CD-RW/DVD/ CD drive
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3 x USB 2.0 ports
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7-in-1 card reader (MMC/RSMMC/SD/MS/MS
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grOuP TesT

E-CODE 1643788
aCER Aspire 8935g-904g1TBwn
SUPPLIER WWW.SAVEONLAPTOPS.CO.UK PRICE 799 (inc. VAT) DELIVERY CHARGE Free
TELEPHONE 0121 260 0050
PROCESSOR INTEL 2GHZ CORE 2 QUAD Q9000
MEMORY
HARD DRIVE
4096MB DDR3 SDRAM
1TB (5400RPM)
IN BRIEF: Despite older components, this is a
OPTICAL DRIVE
SCREEN SIZE AND TYPE
BLU-RAY (READ)
18.4-INCH SUPER-TFT
great option with an impressive features list
DISPLAY RESOLUTION 1920 X 1080 (WUXGA)
Sub-899 laptopS

GRAPHICS CARD ATI MOBILITY RADEON HD 4670


DIMENSIONS
WEIGHT
440 X 282 X 48MM
4.4KG
A cers range of media centre laptops
has always impressed us, managing to
combine a wealth of features with strong
enhanced by the Super-TFT screen coating.
This is also the most reective screen in
this group test, however, and is only suited
WIRELESS LAN 802.11N
ETHERNET GIGABIT performance and great usability the for use indoors away from bright light.
USB PORTS 4 18.4-inch Aspire 8935G-904G1TBwn (799 This is handy, as youre not going to want
FIREWIRE 1 (MINI) inc. VAT) is another great example. to travel far with this laptop, as its large
OPERATING SYSTEM WINDOWS VISTA
Employing powerful components from a size, 4.4kg weight and truly miserable
STANDARD WARRANTY 1 YR C&R P&L
previous generation an Intel Core 2 Quad 95-minute battery life limits portability.
processor, rather than Intel's latest Core
range Acer has managed to keep the Backlit keyboard
BENCHMARKS price low, while also providing quad-core The backlit keyboard features Acers
power. This laptop is great for multi- unique design whereby the keys stand up
BATTERY LIFE MINUTES
Acer 95 tasking resource-heavy applications, but from the chassis, with a gap between each
Benchmark Machine 201 its impossible to ignore the difference in letter. The typing experience cant match
performance offered by this chip and the the Sony in this group, but its rm enough.
MOBILEMARK 2007
Acer 204 latest Intel range. If you want true power, Where the Acer really excels is its
Benchmark Machine 210 the Mesh in this group is a better option. comprehensive features list. The 1TB hard
Graphically the Acer provides punch and, drive provides the most storage in this
3DMARK 2003
Acer 22,160 although the Mesh ultimately provides group. Theres also a Blu-ray optical drive in
Benchmark Machine 1765 better gaming performance, this laptop is place to complement the excellent screen,
a great choice for those who want to use and an integrated TV tuner with aerial and
See page 44 for benchmark specication high-end editing software and also make remote, allowing you to comfortably watch
time for playing the latest gaming titles. digital TV at home or on the move.
VALUE FOR MONEY 7 Carrying out multimedia tasks such One nal point of note is that Windows
PERFORMANCE 7
as these is a pleasure on the spacious Vista is included rather than the newer
FEATURES 7
BUILD QUALITY 7 18.4-inch screen. The full 1080p high- Windows 7 operating system. This may
denition resolution provides a razor sharp not bother many users, but weve found
oVERall 7 image, with excellent colour and contrast Windows 7 to be a far more intuitive and
resource-light operating system to use.
We were very impressed by the Acer
Aspire 8935G-904G1TBwn. While it uses
older components than other laptops in
this group test, for most potential buyers
there is still more than enough power
What type of on offer here for everyday use. With
user are you?
See page 104 portability the laptops only Achilles
heel, it was the list of features that
impressed us most, making this a
fantastic desktop replacement option for
the whole family.

operATinG sysTeM
Your laptops operating system
controls the machines resources,
managing all components, software
and external devices. Its the software
base from which all applications are
launched and provides a user-friendly
environment from which you can
control your laptop or netbook.

36 WHAT LAPTOP August 2010


grOuP TesT

applE MacBook E-CODE MC516


PRICE 849 (inc. VAT) DELIVERY CHARGE Free DELIVERY CHARGE FREE
SUPPLIER WWW.APPLE.COM/UK
TELEPHONE 0800 048 0408

IN BRIEF: Still a truly stylish and usable PROCESSOR


MEMORY
INTEL 2.4GHZ CORE 2 DUO P8600
2048MB DDR3 SDRAM

machine, it's hard not to love the MacBook HARD DRIVE


OPTICAL DRIVE
250GB (5400RPM)
DUAL-FORMAT DVD DL
SCREEN SIZE AND TYPE 13.3-INCH SUPER-TFT

Sub-899 laptopS
A pple makes some of the most
desirable devices around and its
MacBook (849 inc. VAT) represents
operating system and applications.
The polycarbonate unibody chassis
design not only looks great, but provides
DISPLAY RESOLUTION
GRAPHICS CARD
DIMENSIONS
1280 X 800 (WXGA)
NVIDIA GEFORCE 320M
331 X 220 X 25MM
WEIGHT 2.2KG
the Californian companys entry-level great durability for the components inside. WIRELESS LAN 802.11N
laptop. Although it disappoints a little on We would recommend regular cleaning, ETHERNET GIGABIT
the specication front, we found that it however, to keep the machine looking new. USB PORTS 2
FIREWIRE NO
delivers in pretty much every other area. Portability is also the best in this group
OPERATING SYSTEM MAC OS X 10.6 SNOW LEOPARD
Our main issue lies with the components test, with an excellent 505-minute battery STANDARD WARRANTY 1 YR C&R P&L
that Apple has chosen to use, as the life on offer and a light weight of 2.2kg.
MacBook offers half the hard drive Apples critically acclaimed OS X Snow
storage space of all its rivals in this group Leopard operating system makes using BENCHMARKS
test, half the amount of memory and also the MacBook an absolute pleasure, and
BATTERY LIFE MINUTES
uses an older Core 2 Duo processor, rather those who wish to can still install Windows MacBook 505
than Intel's latest Core i5 or Core i7 chips. on the machine using the included Boot Benchmark Machine 201

Thankfully, however, performance is Camp software. Its very easy to do and all
MOBILEMARK 2007
actually pretty good, although it isnt quite the necessary drivers are included. MacBook 204
as capable as the likes of the Mesh or The bundled Apple iLife software suite Benchmark Machine 210

Sony in this group. Nevertheless, multi- is also excellent, containing a range of


3DMARK 2003
tasking ofce applications and a bit of applications, including photo and video MacBook 10,375
light photo editing wont be a problem. editing software. These arent throwaway Benchmark Machine 1765

Also, the dedicated nVidia graphics card pieces of trialware, but full applications
boasts some real power and proved to be that many will take great pleasure in using. See page 44 for benchmark specication
slightly more procient than both the Dell Although were slightly disappointed by
and Sony options here. The latest games the specication the MacBook provides VALUE FOR MONEY 6
PERFORMANCE 7
are likely to struggle, but editing movies at this price, it ultimately shouldnt put
FEATURES 7
and watching DVDs wont be a problem. people off, as the near-unparalleled BUILD QUALITY 7
usability and desirability of the machine
excellent usability more than compensate.
oVERall 8
Where the MacBook really impresses is
usability. Although the 13.3-inch screen is
the smallest in this group, only featuring
a 1280 x 800-pixel resolution, images are
exceptionally bright and colourful.
Similarly, the isolated-style keyboard a
design pioneered by Apple and Sony a few
years back is in place and is great to use.
The large, glass, multi-gesture touchpad
is also the most intuitive weve ever used.
Its sheer size makes it easy to use your What type of
user are you?
ngers as a way of navigating through the See page 104

uniBoDy
Apple has been employing unibody
designs on its laptops for some time
now. Essentially, instead of being made
from numerous panels, the chassis is
built from one shaped piece of
material. This looks great and, more
importantly, provides better protection
for the laptops internal components.

August 2010 WHAT LAPTOP 37


grOuP TesT

E-CODE N/A
DEll Inspiron 15R
SUPPLIER WWW.DELL.CO.UK PRICE 899 (inc. VAT) DELIVERY CHARGE Included
TELEPHONE 0844 444 4699
PROCESSOR INTEL 2.27GHZ CORE I5 430M
MEMORY
HARD DRIVE
4096MB DDR3 SDRAM
500GB (5400RPM)
IN BRIEF: Dells latest Inspiron impresses
OPTICAL DRIVE
SCREEN SIZE AND TYPE
TRI-FORMAT DVD DL
15.6-INCH SUPER-TFT
hugely, making it a competitive choice here
DISPLAY RESOLUTION 1366 X 768 (WXGA)
Sub-899 laptopS

GRAPHICS CARD ATI MOBILITY RADEON HD 5470


DIMENSIONS
WEIGHT
377 X 249 X 35MM
2.7KG
D ells Inspiron range is targeted at the
consumer after an entry level mobile
computing solution, and has always
very comfortable to use although, as with
the Acer, it cant quite compete with the
excellent quality of the Sony VAIO.
WIRELESS LAN 802.11N
ETHERNET GIGABIT aimed to provide quality at a competitive The same Intel Core i5 processor used in
USB PORTS 4 price. The Inspiron 15R (899 inc. VAT) is a the Samsung and Sony is employed here,
FIREWIRE NO great machine which combines the latest alongside 4096MB of DDR3 memory. As
OPERATING SYSTEM WINDOWS 7 HOME PREMIUM
components with style, usability and a result, performance is broadly similar.
STANDARD WARRANTY 1 YR C&R P&L
decent portability mixed in. Theres easily enough performance for
The rst thing you notice about the any requirement and not just for browsing
laptop is its great design. The striking red the internet and sending emails, as multi-
BENCHMARKS lid and mock brushed-aluminium nish tasking is made extremely easy by the
on the chassis look fantastic. With many high-powered Intel processor.
BATTERY LIFE MINUTES
Dell 187 laptops still featuring grey, nondescript
Benchmark Machine 201 designs, its great to see a company taking limited gaming
this much care to make its products A mid-range ATi graphics card has been
MOBILEMARK 2007
Dell 239 desirable as well as functional. implemented and youll have no problem
Benchmark Machine 210 The 15.6-inch screen features the playing slightly older games and editing
second lowest resolution in this group and, your holiday snaps. Gamers, however, will
3DMARK 2003
Dell 10,013 although its very bright and provides good prefer the power offered by the Acer or
Benchmark Machine 1765
colour and contrast, detail cant compete the DirectX 11-compatible Mesh.
with the other laptops in this test. As a While the 500GB hard drive cant provide
See page 44 for benchmark specication
result, those after a machine expressly for the excellent future-proong the Acers
photo and video editing would do well to 1TB disk offers, it will still allow you to
VALUE FOR MONEY 7 check out one of the other options here. carry around all your les, folders and
PERFORMANCE 8
The laptop is well put together and the music, lm and photo libraries with ease,
FEATURES 7
BUILD QUALITY 7 nish on the lid and chassis make this to keep you entertained on the move.
a machine that doesnt quickly attract Finally, portability is about average.
oVERall 8 smears and scratches. The keyboard is The 2.7kg chassis wont be too heavy
to carry around on a regular basis and
the 187-minute battery life is just about
acceptable, as we expect a minimum of
180 minutes from the latest laptops.
The Dell Inspiron 15R's minor
shortcomings are nullied by the general
What type of quality on offer. The brand new chassis
user are you?
See page 104 design looks fantastic, while the powerful
components make the laptop a very
competent performer across the board. As
a result, this is a laptop that will appeal to a
broad variety of people.

DirecTX 11
At its most basic level, DirectX is a
collection of what are called APIs
(Applications Programming Interfaces)
that make it easier for computer
hardware and software to interact with
each other. Created by Microsoft, it is a
core component of the Windows OS,
with the latest version being DX11.

38 WHAT LAPTOP August 2010


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with everything youll need to stay ultra-thin and light as a feather; perfect for
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world; it comes with an amazing rotating
ONLY performance. Bursting with the latest

529
touch screen and some serious power, technologies, the VAIO EB is perfect
packed away in a perfectly mobile chassis. for people who demand multimedia
entertainment anytime, anywhere.
Intel Pentium 1.3GHz Code: LX.PNA02.018 ONLY
Intel Core i3 2.13GHz

499
3GB RAM/160GB HD
3GB RAM/320GB HD
11.6Touch Screen
15.5 Screen

SAVE 70!
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Built-in Webcam SAVE 50! Intel HD Graphics
Built-in Webcam Code: VPCEB1E0EWI

Call: 0844 412 4516 Open: Mon-Thurs 9-7, Fri 9-6, Sat 9-5 and Sun 11-5

Click: www.laptopsdirect.co.uk Secure online ordering 24/7

Collect: Pick up in Hudderseld or Nottingham (Mon - Sun) - Call rst to check stock
Prices and Specication correct at time of going to press and are subject to change without notice. Prices checked against competitors daily, see website for more details.
Buy it Direct Ltd, Trident Business Park, Leeds Road, Hudderseld, HD2 1UA.
grOuP TesT

E-CODE DX11-WL
MESh Edge dX11-R
SUPPLIER WWW.MESHCOMPUTERS.COM PRICE 899 (inc. VAT) DELIVERY CHARGE 15
TELEPHONE 0844 736 0440
PROCESSOR INTEL 1.6GHZ CORE I7 720QM
MEMORY
HARD DRIVE
4096MB DDR3 SDRAM
500GB (5400RPM)
IN BRIEF: A great machine and the only
OPTICAL DRIVE
SCREEN SIZE AND TYPE
TRI-FORMAT DVD DL
15.6-INCH SUPER-TFT
laptop here to provide an Intel Core i7 CPU
DISPLAY RESOLUTION 1920 X 1080 (WUXGA)
Sub-899 laptopS

GRAPHICS CARD ATI MOBILITY RADEON HD 5650


DIMENSIONS
WEIGHT
378 X 236 X 42MM
2.8KG
E stablished over twenty years ago,
Mesh is a British manufacturer that
builds a broad variety of laptops to cater
price. Its a shame you wont be able to
watch high-denition Blu-ray lms, as the
Mesh's 15.6-inch screen is truly fantastic.
WIRELESS LAN 802.11N
ETHERNET GIGABIT for all budgets and requirements. The Edge The Full HD 1920 x 1080-pixel resolution
USB PORTS 4 DX11-R (899 inc. VAT) features high-end produces the best images in this group,
FIREWIRE NO components and provides total power for even beating the Sonys, although on
OPERATING SYSTEM WINDOWS 7 HOME PREMIUM
those after serious performance and all a smaller scale. Pictures are incredibly
STANDARD WARRANTY 1 YR RTB P&L
at an impressively competitive price. detailed, while colour vibrancy is second
While we were a little disappointed to none, with contrast also impressing.
to see the Core i5-powered Sony in The result is that photos, movies and
BENCHMARKS this group test nearly beat this Core games look fantastic. Also, despite the
i7-powered machine, if youre after a use of a glossy Super-TFT screen coating,
BATTERY LIFE MINUTES
Mesh 205
laptop competent enough to run even reections are minimal, making this laptop
Benchmark Machine 201 the most resource-intensive programs, easy to use in all light conditions.
the Mesh will do the job with ease. You
MOBILEMARK 2007
Mesh 241
can breeze through your ofce work and poor keyboard
Benchmark Machine 210 even the most resource-heavy multimedia Unfortunately, the keyboard is both
applications will prove no problem. cramped and noisy to use. It's not a serious
3DMARK 2003
Mesh 20,845
This is one of the rst laptops to carry issue, but those after a truly comfortable
Benchmark Machine 1765 a graphics card supporting Microsofts typing action should consider the Sony.
DirectX 11 technology. Coming from ATis While the Mesh does not feature the
See page 44 for benchmark specication latest range, extensive testing found that most attractive design here that honour
although performance looks similar to the goes to the Apple it is functional enough
VALUE FOR MONEY 7 Acer, this laptop in fact provides the most and will provide good usability on the road.
PERFORMANCE 8
graphical power in this group test. The tough plastics employed are also
FEATURES 6
BUILD QUALITY 6 While the capacious 500GB hard drive surprisingly difcult to mark and dont
provides ample storage space, the lack of show dust and dirt as easily as the Apple.
oVERall 8 a Blu-ray drive is a slight surprise at this Battery life isnt too bad considering
the very powerful components on board,
and at only 2.8kg this is one of the lighter
machines here handy if you do plan to
travel regularly with the machine.
It may not be the prettiest machine in
this group test, but theres no denying the
What type of value for money on offer from the Edge
user are you?
See page 104 DX11-R. Intel Core i7 power and the latest
graphics technology give you a lot of
horsepower to play with, and if you want
to run resource-intensive applications, this
is certainly the machine for you.

Blu-rAy
The dominant format for high-
denition (HD) video playback, Blu-ray
is a high-capacity storage format
designed to hold HD audio/video and is
becoming increasingly available on
modern laptops. Discs can store as
much as 25GB of data on a single disc
or 50GB on dual-layer discs.

40 WHAT LAPTOP August 2010


grOuP TesT

E-CODE R780-JS0BUK
SaMSung R780
DELIVERY CHARGE FREE PRICE 799 (inc. VAT) DELIVERY CHARGE Free
SUPPLIER WWW.PCWORLD.CO.UK
TELEPHONE 0844 561 0000
PROCESSOR
MEMORY
INTEL 2.27GHZ CORE I5 430M
4096MB DDR3 SDRAM
IN BRIEF: Powerful across the board and with
HARD DRIVE
OPTICAL DRIVE
500GB (5400RPM)
BLU-RAY (READ)
great list of features, this laptop has it all
SCREEN SIZE AND TYPE 17.3-INCH SUPER-TFT
Sub-899 laptopS

DISPLAY RESOLUTION
GRAPHICS CARD
DIMENSIONS
1600 X 900 (WXGA++)
NVIDIA GEFORCE GT 330M
412 X 257 X 48MM
S amsung has had an excellent run
of form over the past few years,
producing a near-seamless range of high-
keypad will please those who regularly
input data and also left-handed gamers.
Performance-wise an Intel Core i5
WEIGHT 2.9KG
WIRELESS LAN 802.11N quality, low-priced machines that have processor identical to that in the Dell and
ETHERNET GIGABIT continued to impress us. The R780 (799 Sony is used. Everyday performance is
USB PORTS 4 inc. VAT) continues this great level of almost identical to both of these laptops
FIREWIRE NO
qualty and theres plenty to admire here. and theres more than enough power
OPERATING SYSTEM WINDOWS 7 HOME PREMIUM
STANDARD WARRANTY 1 YR C&R P&L This group test boasts a real mix of here for doing everything from browsing
designs, but its this laptop that sticks the internet to running resource-heavy
out the most. The red and black design applications, such as photo editing suites.
BENCHMARKS implemented on both the chassis and
palmrest looks great and the choice of powerful graphics
BATTERY LIFE MINUTES
Samsung 188 colours means that, unlike the Apple, dirt A particularly powerful nVidia graphics
Benchmark Machine 201 and dust dont show up too obviously. card has also been used here and means
Build quality is also excellent and the R780 is just as at home running the
MOBILEMARK 2007
Samsung 236 Samsung has taken a no-nonsense latest games as it is editing high denition
Benchmark Machine 210 approach that makes the R780 a durable (HD) movies. Not only does this give the
option. The widescreen 17.3-inch panel laptop great versatility, but it also provides
3DMARK 2003
Samsung 19,148 may not be as engrossing as the Acers, you with a great deal of future-proong,
Benchmark Machine 1765 but it still provides very sharp images, meaning your laptop will full software
although the Mesh ultimately beats both system requirements further into the
See page 44 for benchmark specication when it comes to colour reproduction and future than the likes of the Sony.
brightness, so is well worth a look if thats The 500GB hard drive will let you easily
VALUE FOR MONEY 8 an important consideration for you. store large amounts of data for the
PERFORMANCE 8
The Samsung's spacious keyboard is foreseeable future, including any lms,
FEATURES 8
BUILD QUALITY 7 comfortable to use at all times, although music and photos you may want to travel
there is a little sponginess detectable with, while the integrated Blu-ray drive lets
oVERall 8 when typing. The dedicated numeric you watch HD lms in all their glory.
Considering the power on offer, this
is a reasonably portable machine. The
188-minute battery life isnt appalling,
while the 2.9kg weight is actually pretty
good, and we didnt nd the laptop a pain
to carry around at all during the day.
What type of All in all, the Samsung R780 is a fantastic
user are you?
See page 104 machine. Power, portability and usability
all combine to make a compelling mobile
computing experience, and extras such
as the Blu-ray drive are simply the icing
on the cake.

wiDescreen
Laptop screens come in any number of
sizes from as small as seven inches
up to huge 20-inch panels. Many, such
as the Samsung R780 here, feature a
widescreen 16:9 aspect ratio, which
means that when playing back movies,
there wont be any distortion or black
lines sandwiching the picture.

42 WHAT LAPTOP August 2010


grOuP TesT

SonY VAIO VPCEC2SOE/WI E-CODE VPCEC2S0E/WI.CEK


PRICE 799 (inc. VAT) DELIVERY CHARGE Free SUPPLIER WWW.SONY.CO.UK
TELEPHONE 0845 600 0124
PROCESSOR INTEL 2.27GHZ CORE I5 430M

IN BRIEF: Great usability as always from Sony MEMORY


HARD DRIVE
6144MB DDR3 SDRAM
500GB (5400RPM)

if only this laptop were stronger graphically OPTICAL DRIVE


SCREEN SIZE AND TYPE
BLU-RAY (WRITE)
17.3-INCH SUPER-TFT
DISPLAY RESOLUTION 1600 X 900 (WXGA++)

Sub-899 laptopS
S onys VAIO E-Series launched earlier in
the year and yet its already received
a small refresh. The VAIO VPCEC2SOE/
colours and detailed images, we prefer the
excellent offering from Mesh, so youve
got to consider whether youre happy to
GRAPHICS CARD ATI MOBILITY RADEON HD 5470
DIMENSIONS
WEIGHT
408 X 255 X 44MM
3.1KG
WIRELESS LAN 802.11N
WI (799 inc. VAT) is the result and proves sacrice a little bit of image quality for a ETHERNET GIGABIT
itself to be a fantastic all-round laptop. larger screen size when buying the Sony. USB PORTS 4
The combination of size, weight and The simple white and silver chassis FIREWIRE NO
OPERATING SYSTEM WINDOWS 7 HOME PREMIUM
average battery life means portability is design is attractive, yet some might be put
STANDARD WARRANTY 1 YR C&R P&L
limited to very short trips. Basically, this is off by the glittery effect on the palmrest.
a laptop youll be using around the house. The keyboard is the best in this group
That shouldnt be a problem, however, test, fending off stiff competition from
as the laptop is very much designed as a the Apple MacBook. Its the crisp typing BENCHMARKS
desktop replacement system. With that action that impresses most, while the keys
BATTERY LIFE MINUTES
in mind, it's designed to deal with all the also travel a very pleasing distance. The Sony 197
tasks a desktop PC can and, for the most inclusion of a dedicated numeric keypad is Benchmark Machine 201

part, it proves impressively capable. a welcome addition as well.


MOBILEMARK 2007
The powerful Intel Core i5 processor is The latest in networking technologies Sony 240
combined with 6144MB of DDR3 memory are present, as are four USB ports for Benchmark Machine 210

- the most in this group test - and during attaching peripherals, and both HDMI
3DMARK 2003
benchmarking we found the Sony to be and VGA connections, for hooking up to Sony 9993
only slightly less powerful than the Core analogue and digital external monitors. Benchmark Machine 1765

i7-powered Mesh. As a result, youll be able Were very impressed by the VAIO
to edit your home videos and photos with VPCEC2SOE/WI. It offers great everyday See page 44 for benchmark specication
ease, as well as record and play music. performance, excellent usability and a
healthy features list. A more powerful VALUE FOR MONEY 6

Mid-range graphics graphics card would have made this an


PERFORMANCE
FEATURES
7
8
To keep costs down, a mid-range ATi unstoppable force in this group test, BUILD QUALITY 7
graphics card is included, and it cant but that might not unduly bother many
compete with the likes of the Acer, Mesh potential buyers.
oVERall 7
or Samsung in the graphical power stakes.
The latest games will run, but youll
have to turn down the graphics settings
somewhat for them to run smoothly.
The 500GB hard drive provides more
than enough storage for a whole familys
data, while the writable Blu-ray drive What type of
user are you?
provides a second back-up option and, of See page 104
course, you can watch HD lms on it.
As you would expect from Sony, the
17.3-inch, 1600 x 900-pixel resolution
screen impresses. Yet despite the crisp

resoluTion
The sharpness of a laptops screen is
measured by its resolution. This is
determined by the amount of vertical
and horizontal pixels. The higher the
number, the sharper the image will be.
The average is now moving towards
1366 x 768, while the highest laptop
resolution is currently 1920 x 1200.

August 2010 WHAT LAPTOP 43


grOuP TesT

suB-899 LAPTOPs: PerfOrmAnce resuLTs


As the UKs leading laptop magazine, we test every machine that comes into our testing labs for both
performance and battery life. Here are the results of our rigorous testing process for this group test

BATTerY LIfe (mIns) OffIce BATTerY LIfe (mIns) DVD


Sub-899 laptopS

The typical battery life of The typical battery life of


the laptop when running the laptop when running
standard ofce tasks DVD continuous DVD playback

Acer Aspire 8935G-904G1TBwn 95 Acer Aspire 8935G-904G1TBwn 84

Apple MAcBook 505 Apple MAcBook 294

Dell inspiron 15r 187 Dell inspiron 15r 126

Mesh eDGe DX11-r 205 Mesh eDGe DX11-r 140

sAMsunG r780 188 sAMsunG r780 93

sony VAio Vpcec2soe/wi 197 sony VAio Vpcec2soe/wi 135

BenchMArk 201 BenchMArk 154

0 200 400 600 0 100 200 300

MobIlEMaRK 2007 3DMaRK 2003

4 5
This test reects how well A good 3D score can mean
6

each laptop handles tasks the difference between


3 7
2 8
1
0

when on battery power good and bad graphics

Acer Aspire 8935G-904G1TBwn 204 Acer Aspire 8935G-904G1TBwn 22,160

Apple MAcBook 204 Apple MAcBook 10,375

Dell inspiron 15r 239 Dell inspiron 15r 10,013

Mesh eDGe DX11-r 241 Mesh eDGe DX11-r 20,845

sAMsunG r780 236 sAMsunG r780 19,148

sony VAio Vpcec2soe/wi 240 sony VAio Vpcec2soe/wi 9993

BenchMArk 210 BenchMArk 1765

0 100 200 300 0 10,000 20,000 30,000

What Laptop benchmark specication used for WL comparison


Toshiba Satellite Pro U300: Intel Core 2 Duo T7500 (2.2GHz) and 800MHz FSB, 2048MB DDR2 SDRAM, Intel GMA X3100, 1280 x 800 pixels,
160GB HDD (5400rpm), Windows Vista Business, Power Scheme: MobileMark 2007

44 WHAT LAPTOP August 2010


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Take 50 Free tracks and create your own musical adventure.
Explore eMusics 5 million track catalogue,
from the brightest new voices to far-ung sounds.

50free TrACKS, on us.


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Get up to 50 free downloads free with a 7-day eMusic trial subscription. Offer available to rst-time eMusic customers only. Internet access, registration, and credit or debit card
required. Limited time offer. Offer and eMusics prices are subject to change and are subject to eMusics terms of use. eMusic and the eMusic logo are either registered trademarks
or trademarks of eMusic.com Inc. in the United Kingdom or other countries. All rights reserved. eMusic is notresponsible for products, services or claims made by Future Publishing.
grOuP TesT

cLOse uP On: suB-899 LAPTOPs


Here we look at the relative build qualities of our test machines

SaMSung R780
Build quality 7
Sub-899 laptopS

The Samsungs touchpad is large and


comfortable to use, proving smooth and MESh EdgE dX11-R
responsive. Samsung has also implemented Build quality 6
small LED lights in each corner of the
touchpad. Not only are these attractive, but
they also make using the touchpad in dim or
dark light conditions much easier.

To keep costs to a minimum, Mesh has


employed a generic chassis. While some of
these chassis can be both unattractive and
poorly put together, we actually quite like the
design used here, and it's certainly tough
enough for a life on the road. Like the Dell, it
also hides dust, dirt and ngerprints
surprisingly well.

46 WHAT LAPTOP August 2010


grOuP TesT

aCER ASPIRE 8935g-904g1TBWN DEll INSPIRON 15R


Build quality 7 Build quality 7

Sub-899 laptopS
The Acer is the only laptop here to feature a dedicated media control This group test is lled with great-looking laptops and the Dell is no
centre. Comprising a scroll wheel and various hot keys, it provides a exception. Breaking away from the stolid designs of the past, the
quick and intuitive way of changing the volume or skipping tracks of a company has implemented a great design here, with the mock
CD you might be listening to. Also, placed on the right-hand side of brushed-aluminium palmrest especially impressing. The laptop also
the chassis, you're unlikely to brush it accidentally while typing. hides dust and dirt remarkably well.

applE MACBOOK SonY VAIO VPCEC2SOE/WI


Build quality 7 Build quality 7

Ever the company to introduce innovative and useful designs, the The majority of Sonys latest machines feature three hotkeys in front
MacBooks power adapter attaches magnetically to the laptop. This of the screen. The ASSIST key provides quick access to a
means if you accidentally kick the cord when the machine is charging, troubleshooting wizard to help with any issues you may be
the laptop wont end up on the oor, as the cable simply comes away experiencing, the WEB button launches a dedicated OS for web
from the machine. browsing, while the VAIO button will open your multimedia libraries.

August 2010 WHAT LAPTOP 47


grOuP TesT

DETAILS Acer Apple Dell Mesh


Aspire 8935G-904G1TBwn Ma cBook Inspiron 15R Edge DX11-R
PRICE 799 (680 ex. VAT) 849 (723 ex. VAT) 899 (765 ex. VAT) 899 (765 ex. VAT)
E- CODE 1643788 MC516 N/A DX11-WL
DELIVERY Free Free Included 15
SUPPLIER www.saveonlaptops.co.uk www.apple.com/uk www.dell.co.uk www.meshcomputers.com
PHONE 0121 260 0050 0800 048 0408 0844 444 4699 0844 736 0440
SPECIFICATIONS
Sub-899 laptopS

PROCESSOR Intel 2GHz Core 2 Quad Q9000 Intel 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo P8600 Intel 2.27GHz Core i5 430M Intel 1.6GHz Core i7 720QM
MEMORY 4096MB DDR3 SDRAM 2048MB DDR3 SDRAM 4096MB DDR3 SDRAM 4096MB DDR3 SDRAM
HARD DRIVE 1TB (5400rpm) 250GB (5400rpm) 500GB (5400rpm) 500GB (5400rpm)
PRICE OF EXTRA BATTERY 99 N/A TBC N/A
SCREEN SIZE & TYPE 18.4-inch Super-TFT 13.3-inch Super-TFT 15.6-inch Super-TFT 15.6-inch Super-TFT
NATIVE RESOLUTION 1920 x 1080 (WUXGA) 1280 x 800 (WXGA) 1366 x 768 (WXGA) 1920 x 1080 (WUXGA)
(PIXELS)

GRAPHICS ADAPTER ATi Mobility Radeon HD 4670 nVidia GeForce 320M ATi Mobility Radeon HD 5470 ATi Mobility Radeon HD 5650
VIDEO MEMORY 1024MB (Dedicated) 256MB (Dedicated) 1024MB (Dedicated) 1024MB (Dedicated)
OPTICAL DRIVE Blu-ray (Read) Dual-Format DVD DL Tri-Format DVD DL Tri-Format DVD DL
OPERATING SYSTEM Windows 7 Home Premium Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard Windows 7 Home Premium Windows 7 Home Premium
BASIC WARRANTY 1 yr C&R P&L 1 yr C&R P&L 1 yr C&R P&L 1 yr RTB P&L
WARRANTY UPGRADE 3 yrs C&R P&L (60) 3 yrs C&R P&L (200) Various options available N/A
DIMENSIONS (W X H X D) 440 x 282 x 48mm 331 x 220 x 25mm 377 x 249 x 35mm 378 x 236 x 42mm
WEIGHT (kg ) 4.4kg 2.2kg 2.7kg 2.8kg
PORTS
PC CARDS ExpressCard No No No
MEDIA CARDS 7-in-1 No 4-in-1 SD
WLAN 802.11n 802.11n 802.11n 802.11n
ETHERNET Gigabit Gigabit Gigabit Gigabit
MODEM No No No No
BLUETOOTH Yes Yes Yes Yes
USB 4 2 4 4
FIREWIRE 1 (mini) No No No
INFRARED Yes Yes No Yes
VGA OUT Yes No Yes Yes
DVI OUT No No No No
HDMI Yes No Yes Yes
E- SATA Yes No Yes No
POINTING DEVICE TP TP TP TP
BUNDLED SOFTWARE Microsoft Works, NTI Media Maker, Apple iLife '09 Microsoft Works Microsoft Works, CyberLink Suite
various Acer applications
CARRY CASE No No No No
ADDITIONAL EXTRAS Integrated Camera, DisplayPort, Integrated Camera, Mini DisplayPort Integrated Camera Integrated Camera
Backlit Keyboard, TV Tuner, Aerial
and Remote
TEST RESULTS
BATTERY LIFE (Mins) 95 505 187 205
MOBILEMARK 2007 204 204 239 241
3DMARK 2003 22,160 10,375 10,013 20,845
OVERALL RATINGS
VALUE FOR MONEY 7 6 7 7
PERFORMANCE 7 7 8 7
FEATURES 7 7 8 6
BUILD QUALITY 7 7 7 6
OVERALL 7 8 8 7

48 WHAT LAPTOP August 2010


grOuP TesT

Sa msung
R780
Sony
VAIO VPCEC2SOE/ WI suB-899 LAPTOP
799 (680 ex. VAT)
R780-JS0BUK
799 (680 ex. VAT)
VPCEC2S0E/WI.CEK
AWArD WInners
We would happily own any one of the machines featured in this
Free Free
group test. The features list of the Acer, the usability of the Sony
www.pcworld.co.uk www.sony.co.uk and the style of the Dell all impressed us enormously, as did the
0844 561 0000 0845 6000 124 fantastic usability and software suite of the Apple MacBook.
However, two laptops stood out from the crowd and they were the

Sub-899 laptopS
Intel 2.27GHz Core i5 430M Intel 2.27GHz Core i5 430M Samsung and Mesh, with the latter particularly impressing us with
its Intel Core i7 processing power.
4096MB DDR3 SDRAM 6144MB DDR3 SDRAM

gOLD AWArD
500GB (5400rpm) 500GB (5400rpm)
91 80
17.3-inch Super-TFT 17.3-inch Super-TFT
1600 x 900 (WXGA++) 1600 x 900 (WXGA++)
samsung r780

nVidia GeForce GT 330M ATi Mobility Radeon HD 5470


1024MB (Dedicated) 512MB (Dedicated)
Blu-ray (Read) Blu-ray (Write)
Windows 7 Home Premium Windows 7 Home Premium
1 yr C&R P&L 1 yr C&R P&L
Various options available Various options available
412 x 257 x 48mm 408 x 255 x 44mm
2.9kg 3.1kg

ExpressCard ExpressCard
3-in-1 SD & 3-in-1
802.11n 802.11n This laptop really does have it all. Not only is it easy to use
and great to look at, it also offers the best combination of
Gigabit Gigabit
everyday performance and graphical power at a fantastic
No No price. Add in an impressive list of features, which includes a
Yes Yes Blu-ray drive, and youre looking at a solid Gold winner.
4 4
No
No
No
No sILVer AWArD
Yes Yes
No No
Mesh edge DX11-r
No Yes
Yes Yes
TP TP
Various Samsung applications McAfee Security Suite,
various Sony applications
No No
Integrated Camera, Integrated Camera
Sleep and Charge USB

188 197
236 240
19,148 9993

By employing a generic chassis Mesh has managed to keep


8 6 costs down and, therefore, include a powerful Intel Core i7
8 7 processor at a reasonable price. The machine also boasts
comprehensive multimedia performance and one of the best
8 8
screens we've seen at this price a great laptop.
7 7
8 7

August 2010 WHAT LAPTOP 49


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grOuP TesT

E-CODE VFY:P7700MF011GB
FUJiTsU LifeBook P770
SUPPLIER WWW.MISCO.CO.UK PRICE 1441 (inc. VAT) DELIVERY CHARGE 5
TELEPHONE 0800 038 8880
PROCESSOR INTEL 1.06GHZ CORE I7 620UM
MEMORY
HARD DRIVE
4096MB DDR3 SDRAM
160GB (5400RPM)
IN BRIEF: Fantastic battery life and ample
OPTICAL DRIVE
SCREEN SIZE AND TYPE
TRI-FORMAT DVD DL
12.1-INCH TFT
power and features at a very reasonable price
3G wireless lAPTOPs

DISPLAY RESOLUTION 1280 X 800 (WXGA)


GRAPHICS CARD
DIMENSIONS
WEIGHT
INTEL GMA HD
282 X 205 X 30MM
1.5KG
A s with all laptops in this group test,
Fujitsus LifeBook P770 (1441 inc.
VAT) is designed for the busy mobile
Sony, due to the use of an integrated Intel
GPU, but performance is in line with most
other laptops this size. Videos, DVDs and
WIRELESS LAN 802.11N
ETHERNET GIGABIT professional. With its feature-packed basic photo editing tasks run with ease,
USB PORTS 3 specication and low-voltage Intel Core but more demanding use is not possible.
FIREWIRE NO i7 processor, it manages to effortlessly
OPERATING SYSTEM WINDOWS 7 PROFESSIONAL
STANDARD WARRANTY 2 YRS C&R P&L
combine ample power and mobility. Mobile broadband
While this is not the lightest machine in High-speed wireless internet access is
this group test that honour goes to the provided by an integrated 3G module. The
Toshiba it is certainly one of the smallest. necessary SIM card ts into a slot beneath
BENCHMARKS Weighing 1.5kg and with a depth of just the P770s battery, so you can then easily
30mm, it can slip into the smallest hand access the internet whenever in range of
BATTERY LIFE MINUTES
Fujitsu 427 luggage and be carried all day with ease. a mobile phone mast ideal for staying
Benchmark Machine 201 While the Sony in this group is powered connected when on the move.
by an Intel Core i7 CPU, Fujitsu has opted High-speed wireless and xed network
MOBILEMARK 2007
Fujitsu 205 for a more power-efcient variant. Running access is also provided, with 802.11n Wi-Fi
Benchmark Machine 210 at half the voltage of the Sonys processor, and Gigabit Ethernet allowing cutting-
far less power is consumed. This allows its edge connectivity wherever you travel.
3DMARK 2003
Fujitsu 1187 battery to run for a stunning 427 minutes Bluetooth is also in place for wirelessly
Benchmark Machine 1765 by far the best result in this group test. syncing data with external devices.
This low voltage also results in less raw Usability is excellent. While the keyboard
See page 44 for benchmark specication power than Sonys processor can offer, exes slightly when typing as does the
but that's not to say the Fujitsu is under- entire right-hand side of the chassis it
VALUE FOR MONEY 7 powered. The dual-core CPU and 4096MB doesnt affect comfort. The tiny touchpad
PERFORMANCE 7
of high-speed DDR3 memory allow very is equally usable, with a ngerprint
FEATURES 7
BUILD QUALITY 7 smooth and fast multi-tasking, bettering scanner tted between the mouse
all but the Sony in this group test. buttons for biometric data protection.
OverAll 7 Graphics are also less powerful than the The 12.1-inch screen is the smallest
in this group, alongside the Toshiba, but
image quality is strong. The matt nish
eliminates reections, making it easy
to view in all conditions and impressive
brightness allows striking images, but
colour and contrast are slightly muted.
What type of While the LifeBook P770 can't match the
user are you?
See page 104 stunning quality of the Sony in this group,
its lower price and impressive power and
mobility make it ideal for the busy traveller.
All in all, this is a business machine that is
very easy to recommend.

3G/HSDPA
3G and High-Speed Download Packet
Access (or 3.5G) are fast wireless
internet connections available for
mobile phones and laptops. By
connecting via mobile phone masts
rather than local Wi-Fi hotspots, users
can easily connect to the internet
almost anywhere they travel.

52 WHAT LAPTOP August 2010


grOuP TesT

leNOvO thinkPad t410s E-CODE NUK37UK


PRICE 1376 (inc. VAT) DELIVERY CHARGE Free SUPPLIER WWW.LENOVO.CO.UK
TELEPHONE 0844 800 0550
PROCESSOR INTEL 2.4GHZ CORE I5 520M

IN BRIEF: Great usability and a stunning MEMORY


HARD DRIVE
2048MB DDR3 SDRAM
250GB (5400RPM)

screen, but the poor mobility disappoints OPTICAL DRIVE


SCREEN SIZE AND TYPE
TRI-FORMAT DVD DL
14.1-INCH TFT

3G wireless lAPTOPs
DISPLAY RESOLUTION 1440 X 900 (WXGA+)

L enovos ThinkPad range is known for


providing arguably the best business
laptops you can buy, thanks to almost
thousands of photos, movies and MP3s. An
integrated DVD rewriter is also in place.
Performance is excellent. The Intel
GRAPHICS CARD
DIMENSIONS
WEIGHT
INTEL GMA HD
337 X 240 X 31MM
1.8KG
WIRELESS LAN 802.11N
unrivalled build quality and usability. While Core i5 processor matches the ULV Core ETHERNET GIGABIT
the ThinkPad T410s (1376 inc. VAT) is not i7-powered Fujitsu and ably dispatches USB PORTS 3
the most portable choice, its large screen most tasks with ease. Even frequent FIREWIRE NO
OPERATING SYSTEM WINDOWS 7 HOME PREMIUM
makes it a good option for ofce use. multi-tasking is possible and we found we
STANDARD WARRANTY 3 YRS RTB P&L
Weighing in at 1.8kg, it is the largest were able to smoothly work with multiple
laptop in this group, but is still more than business and media applications open.
slim and portable enough for frequent Graphics are equally capable and better
travel use. At 181 minutes, battery life is all but the Sony. The integrated Intel GPU BENCHMARKS
very disappointing, however, and is vastly delivers enough power for complex business
BATTERY LIFE MINUTES
bettered by all three rivals in this group. presentations and regular photo and video Lenovo 181
The chassis carries Lenovos renowned editing. High-denition (HD) video and even Benchmark Machine 201

build quality, with resilient scratch- less demanding games run with ease.
MOBILEMARK 2007
resistant plastics used throughout, Finally, adding usability missing from Lenovo 204
although we did notice some minor ex many laptops, Lenovos ThinkVantage Benchmark Machine 210

above the keyboard. The retro 1980s software makes it easy for even the most
3DMARK 2003
design is common of ThinkPad machines inexperienced users to congure advanced Lenovo 4066
and is one that youll either love or hate. system set-up and maintenance tasks. Benchmark Machine 1765

This alone is sure to be a key selling point


Excellent usability for many less tech-savvy rst-time buyers. See page 44 for benchmark specication
Where ThinkPads really excel is in their By combining Lenovos market-leading
usability. The keyboard is truly stunning, quality and usability with a stunning VALUE FOR MONEY 7
PERFORMANCE 6
with a smooth and responsive typing screen and ample power, the ThinkPad
FEATURES 7
action rivalled by few laptops. A choice of T410s is a great business laptop. Against BUILD QUALITY 8
a touchpad and pointing stick are also in its rivals in this group, its limited mobility is
place for controlling onscreen actions. slightly disappointing, however.
OverAll 7
With the largest screen in this
group, this machine is well-suited to
entertainment and desktop use. The
14.1-inch panel is also the brightest screen
in this group test by far, so while the matt-
TFT nish eliminates reections, images
pop off the screen with stunning vibrancy. What type of
user are you?
Another area that this machine stands See page 104
out from the crowd is its capacious
storage. The 250GB hard drive betters
all but the Sony in this group and will
easily hold your business les, as well as

INTEL CORE I5
Intels latest range of mid-level
dual-core processors. Delivering more
power than older Core 2 Duo chips and
providing full support for HD video and
graphics, performance outperforms
previous processors in the mid-level
market, making these high-powered
CPUs ideal for frequent multi-tasking.

August 2010 WHAT LAPTOP 53


grOuP TesT

E-CODE VPCZ11Z9E/B.CEK
sONY VAIO VPCZ11Z9E/B
SUPPLIER WWW.SONY.CO.UK PRICE 2401 (inc. VAT) DELIVERY CHARGE Free
TELEPHONE 0845 600 0124
PROCESSOR INTEL 2.66GHZ CORE I7 620M
MEMORY
HARD DRIVE
6144MB DDR3 SDRAM
256GB (SSD)
IN BRIEF: A stunning ultraportable and the
OPTICAL DRIVE
SCREEN SIZE AND TYPE
TRI-FORMAT DVD DL
13.1-INCH SUPER-TFT
benchmark of high-end mobile computing
3G wireless lAPTOPs

DISPLAY RESOLUTION 1920 X 1080 (WUXGA)


GRAPHICS CARD
DIMENSIONS
WEIGHT
NVIDIA GEFORCE GT 330M
314 X 188 X 34MM
1.4KG
S onys VAIO Z-Series range has long
impressed us and its latest model
the VPCZ11Z9E/B (2401 inc. VAT) is no
impressive as it does little to impact on
battery life. While the Fujitsu provides
more than two hours of extra power, the
WIRELESS LAN 802.11N
ETHERNET GIGABIT exception. Offering a level of power and Sony's battery runs for nearly ve hours
USB PORTS 3 features never seen before in such a slim more than enough for daily travel use.
FIREWIRE NO and light machine, this is truly the best While the matt nish of the 13.1-inch
OPERATING SYSTEM WINDOWS 7 PROFESSIONAL
ultraportable laptop weve seen to date. TFT screen eliminates reections, it also
STANDARD WARRANTY 2 YRS C&R P&L
At 1.4kg, this is one of the lightest manages to maintain the vibrancy of a
machines in this group and is extremely glossy Super-TFT panel. It is not as bright
comfortable to carry. Built using a mix of as wed like, but colour and contrast are
BENCHMARKS hybrid carbon bre and milled aluminium, excellent and the HD 1080p resolution
the chassis is highly resilient to the rigours allows for truly sharp images.
BATTERY LIFE MINUTES
Sony 285 of travel use and the stylish gun-metal Usability is excellent and the spacious
Benchmark Machine 201 nish adds a high-class executive look. isolated-style keyboard is a joy to work on.
Where this laptop blows all rivals away Ample space is provided between each
MOBILEMARK 2007
Sony 328 is its staggering performance. Driven by key and the board responds rmly and
Benchmark Machine 210 a cutting-edge Intel Core i7 processor accurately, while an ambient light sensor
and a stunning 6144MB of DDR3 memory, automatically adjusts the backlighting of
3DMARK 2003
Sony 16,951 performance rivals the largest mobile the keys for use in low-light conditions.
Benchmark Machine 1765
workstations, dispatching the most
demanding tasks with effortless speed. Full connectivity
See page 44 for benchmark specication
Graphics are no less impressive, with Wireless broadband access is provided by
the dedicated nVidia GPU quadrupling the an integrated 3G module. By removing the
VALUE FOR MONEY 8 power of its nearest rival here. Whether battery, you can t the required SIM card
PERFORMANCE 9
you want to edit photos and videos, enjoy to get connected. 802.11n Wi-Fi, Gigabit
FEATURES 9
BUILD QUALITY 8 high-denition (HD) content, or play the Ethernet and Bluetooth are also all in
latest games, the Sony does it all. place, for comprehensive connectivity.
OverAll 9 This level of power is made all the more Thanks to the use of Solid State Drive
(SSD) storage, your data is well protected,
as SSDs have no moving parts at risk of
damage. With 256GB of storage space on
offer the best in this group test you
can keep large quantities of les close to
hand as you travel.
What type of Finally, added value is provided by
user are you?
See page 104 market-leading photo and video editing
software from Adobe. In short, the VAIO
VPCZ11Z9E/B is a stunning benchmark
that all ultraportables should aspire to and
one of the best laptops you can buy.

INTEL CORE I7
A range of dual and quad-core
processors with as many as four
processing cores tted on to a single
chip. Delivering staggering levels of
power and providing full support for
64-bit software, performance can more
than double dual-core chips, such as
those from Intels Core 2 Duo range.

54 WHAT LAPTOP August 2010


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What gets your vote?


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Hooked on your PS3?
Vote before 22 July to win 1,500 worth of tech
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Vote no
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grOuP TesT

E-CODE PPR61E-03T04REN
TOshibA Portg r600-149
SUPPLIER WWW.TOSHIBA.CO.UK PRICE 1526 (inc. VAT) DELIVERY CHARGE Free
TELEPHONE 0844 847 8944
PROCESSOR INTEL 1.4GHZ CORE 2 DUO SU9400
MEMORY
HARD DRIVE
3072MB DDR2 SDRAM
128GB (SSD)
IN BRIEF: A staggeringly lightweight machine,
OPTICAL DRIVE
SCREEN SIZE AND TYPE
NO
12.1-INCH TFT
awed only by limited battery and features
3G wireless lAPTOPs

DISPLAY RESOLUTION 1280 X 800 (WXGA)


GRAPHICS CARD
DIMENSIONS
WEIGHT
INTEL GMA 4500M
283 X 202 X 30MM
820G
T oshibas Portg R600 range has been
a What Laptop favourite for quite some
time, thanks to its great usability and
there is ample power on offer for most
business use. Only more complex multi-
tasking shows the limits of the older CPU.
WIRELESS LAN 802.11N
ETHERNET GIGABIT resilient, lightweight design. The Portg A unique feature of the R600 is its use
USB PORTS 3 R600-149 (1526 inc. VAT) is the latest of a transective backlit LED screen.
FIREWIRE NO model and its hard to imagine nding a Activated via a small key above the
OPERATING SYSTEM WINDOWS 7 PROFESSIONAL
better business machine at this price. keyboard, it allows maximum visibility
STANDARD WARRANTY 1 YR C&R P&L
As soon as you pick it up youre struck indoors and out, letting you work in
by just how light it is. At just 820g it feels comfort at all times.
as if there is nothing inside this machine. The screen is driven by an integrated
BENCHMARKS With slightly slimmer dimensions than the Intel graphics card, so performance is
equally small Fujitsu, this is a machine built in line with the Fujitsu in this group test
BATTERY LIFE MINUTES
Toshiba 211
for frequent and comfortable mobile use. and falls far behind the Lenovo and Sony.
Benchmark Machine 201 The level of comfort is enhanced by the Image quality is strong and while colour
fantastic keyboard with large keys and and contrast are slightly muted, this is a
MOBILEMARK 2007
Toshiba 163
a spacious design, it is awless to use. All very comfortable screen to work with.
Benchmark Machine 210 keys respond rmly and accurately, letting
you effortlessly type at speed. Facial recognition
3DMARK 2003
Toshiba 1372
Disappointingly, battery life falls below As with all laptops in this group test,
Benchmark Machine 1765 the level wed hoped for. Running for just a compact camera is tted above the
211-minutes, it is bettered by both the screen, allowing you to capture basic
See page 44 for benchmark specication Fujitsu and Sony in this group. While you snapshot photos and stream live video.
can work for half a day, we expected a Toshiba has also implemented facial
VALUE FOR MONEY 8 better result from such a light machine. recognition software, allowing you to log
PERFORMANCE 6
Performance is more pleasing. While this into Windows by looking into the camera.
FEATURES 7
BUILD QUALITY 8 is the only machine in this group to use Where the Portg R600 is bettered
Intels older Core 2 Duo technology, rather by all rivals in this group, however, is its
OverAll 8 than the latest Core i5 and i7 processors, limited storage. Just 128GB of Solid State
Drive (SSD) storage is provided for carrying
your les and could quickly be lled. In
order to maintain the chassis light weight,
there is also no integrated CD/DVD drive.
Despite the minor shortcomings of
its limited features and battery life, the
What type of stunningly lightweight dimensions and
user are you?
See page 104 great usability of the Portg R600-149
more than compensate. Unless you need
the latest cutting-edge features or the
longest battery life, this is a fantastic travel
partner and we like it a lot.

TRANSFLECTIVE
A screen technology that uses a thin
mirror to reect natural light back out
of the screen and illuminate the panel,
from inside, eliminating the need for
LED backlighting. Activated via a
hotkey, the LED backlighting can be
switched off when outside for
maximum visibility and to save power.

56 WHAT LAPTOP August 2010


Im a PC
and Windows 7
was my idea.
grOuP TesT

CLOse uP On: 3g WIreLess LAPTOPs


Here we look at the relative build qualities of our test machines

sONY VAIO VPCZ11Z9E/B leNOvO thInKPAd t410s


Build quality 8
3G wireless lAPTOPs

Build quality 8

A switch above the Sony's keyboard lets you toggle between the Offering a unique array of ports, the Lenovo chassis can keep you well
dedicated nVidia graphics card and integrated Intel chip, letting you connected as you travel. Among others, an eSATA port lets you
maximise performance or battery life. We found little difference connect to external hard drives for high-speed data backups, while a
between the two, however, with only seven minutes more power yellow USB port at the rear lets you charge USB-powered peripherals,
provided when using the Intel chip, so theres little reason to switch. such as MP3 players, even when the laptop is switched off.

FUJiTsU LIFEBOOK P770 TOshibA POrtg r600-149


Build quality 7 Build quality 8

Showing its corporate roots, the P770 is well-equipped for connecting With the R600's screen using LED backlighting and transective
to external displays when at home or back at the ofce. A standard technology, a small button above the keyboard lets you disable the
VGA-out port lets you connect to analogue monitors and projectors, backlighting when you work in bright conditions. This makes the
while an HDMI-out lets you connect to high-denition screens for the screen easier to view in direct sunlight and allows the transective
sharpest possible image, when compatible displays are available. mirror to reect light back at the user for a clearer image.

58 WHAT LAPTOP August 2010


SATURDAY 24 JULY 2010 SUNDAY 25 JULY 2010
MAIN
STAGE

JOE ELLIOTT
A Tribute to Ronnie James Dio & VERY SPECIAL GUEST
IAN HUNTER
DOWN N OUTZ
GARY MOORE JOE BONAMASSA
BACHMAN &TURNER
THE UNION
UFO THE QUIREBOYS

Black Label STAGE

Society
SA XO N
CAT H E D R A L H A M M E R FA L L
ORANGE GOBLIN HIGH ON FIRE
BLACK SPIDERS NEW DEVICE AUDREY HORNE LETHARGY
PROG STAGE

ARGENT
ASIA URIAH HEEP
(PERFORMING DEMONS & WIZARDS)
DW E E Z I L Z A P PA
MAGNUM STEVE HACKET T
BIGELF FOCUS
MARTIN TURNERS WISHBONE ASH
P E N D R AG O N (PERFORMING ARGUS)

TOUCHSTONE THE REASONING

L O N D O N V I C T O R I A PA R K
F E S T I VA L S 2 4 H O U R H O T L I N E : 0 8 7 1 2 3 0 5 5 8 2
A M A Z I N G V I P PAC K AG E S AVA I L A B L E O N L I N E !
W W W. H I G H V O L T A G E F E S T I VA L . C O M
SUBJECT TO LICENSE
grOuP TesT

DETAILS Fujitsu Lenovo Sony Toshiba


LifeBook P770 ThinkPa d T410s VAIO VPCZ11Z9E/ B PortgR600-149
PRICE 1441 (1226 ex. VAT) 1376 (1171 ex. VAT) 2401 (2043 ex. VAT) 1526 (1299 ex. VAT)
E- CODE VFY:P7700MF011GB NUK37UK VPCZ11Z9E/B.CEK PPR61E-03T04REN
DELIVERY 5 Free Free Free
SUPPLIER www.misco.co.uk www.lenovo.co.uk www.sony.co.uk www.toshiba.co.uk
PHONE 0800 038 8880 0844 800 0550 0845 600 0124 0844 847 8944
SPECIFICATIONS
3G wireless lAPTOPs

PROCESSOR Intel 1.06GHz Core i7 620UM Intel 2.4GHz Core i5 520M Intel 2.66GHz Core i7 620M Intel 1.4GHz Core 2 Duo SU9400
MEMORY 4096MB DDR3 SDRAM 2048MB DDR3 SDRAM 6144MB DDR3 SDRAM 3072MB DDR2 SDRAM
HARD DRIVE 160GB (5400rpm) 250GB (5400rpm) 256GB (SSD) 128GB (SSD)
PRICE OF EXTRA BATTERY 96 119 127 122
SCREEN SIZE & TYPE 12.1-inch TFT 14.1-inch TFT 13.1-inch Super-TFT 12.1-inch TFT
NATIVE RESOLUTION (PIXELS) 1280 x 800 (WXGA) 1440 x 900 (WXGA+) 1920 x 1080 (WUXGA) 1280 x 800 (WXGA)
GRAPHICS ADAPTER Intel GMA HD Intel GMA HD nVidia GeForce GT 330M / Intel Intel GMA 4500M
GMA HD
VIDEO MEMORY 1696MB (Shared) 761MB (Shared) 1024MB (Dedicated)/ 1308MB (Shared)
1760MB (Shared)
OPTICAL DRIVE Tri-Format DVD DL Tri-Format DVD DL Tri-Format DVD DL No
OPERATING SYSTEM Windows 7 Professional Windows 7 Home Premium Windows 7 Professional Windows 7 Professional
BASIC WARRANTY 2 yrs C&R P&L 3 yrs RTB P&L 2 yrs C&R P&L 1 yr C&R P&L
WARRANTY UPGRADE 3 yrs C&R P&L (45) Various options available 3 yrs C&R P&L (64) 3 yrs OS NBD (110)
DIMENSIONS (W X H X D) 282 x 205 x 30mm 337 x 240 x 31mm 314 x 188 x 34mm 283 x 202 x 30mm
WEIGHT 1.5kg 1.8kg 1.4kg 820g
SPECIFICATIONS
PC CARDS No No ExpressCard ExpressCard
MEDIA CARDS No 5-in-1 Memory Stick/SD SD
WLAN 802.11n 802.11n 802.11n 802.11n
ETHERNET Gigabit Gigabit Gigabit Gigabit
MODEM No No No No
BLUETOOTH Yes Yes Yes Yes
USB 3 3 3 3
FIREWIRE No No No No
INFRARED No No No No
VGA OUT Yes Yes Yes Yes
DVI OUT No No No No
HDMI Yes No Yes No
ESATA No Yes No Yes
POINTING DEVICE TP TP & PS TP TP
BUNDLED SOFTWARE Various Fujitsu applications Various Lenovo applications Adobe Photoshop Elements & McAfee Internet Security, various
Premiere Elements, various Toshiba applications
Sony applications
CARRY CASE No No No No
ADDITIONAL EXTRAS Integrated Camera, HSDPA Integrated Camera, HSDPA Integrated Camera, HSDPA Integrated Camera, HSDPA
Module, Fingerprint Scanner, Module, Fingerprint Scanner, Module, Fingerprint Scanner Module, Fingerprint Scanner
Docking Station, Laptop Sleeve DisplayPort
SPECIFICATIONS
BATTERY LIFE (Mins) 427 181 285 211
MOBILEMARK 2007 205 204 328 163
3DMARK 2003 1187 4066 16,951 1372
SPECIFICATIONS
VALUE FOR MONEY 7 7 8 8
PERFORMANCE 7 6 9 6
FEATURES 7 7 9 7
BUILD QUALITY 7 8 8 8
OVERALL 7 7 9 8

60 WHAT LAPTOP August 2010


grOuP TesT

BATTerY LIFe (MIns) OFFICe 3g WIreLess LAPTOP


The typical battery life of the laptop
AWArD WInners
when running standard ofce tasks Despite widely varying price points, there is no denying the quality
on offer from all laptops in this group test. With stunning build
FUJITSU LIFEBOOK P770 427 quality, comfortable usability, vibrant screens and a surprising
array of features on offer, these are some of the best laptops you

3G wireless lAPTOPs
LENOVO THINKPAD T410S 181
can buy and all are easy to recommend. In the end, however, two
SONY VAIO VPCZ11Z9E/B 285 stood out from the crowd to win our Gold and Silver awards.

gOLD AWArD
TOSHIBA PORTG R600-149 211

BENCHMARK 201

0 200 400 600


Sony VAIO VPCZ11Z9E/B
BATTerY LIFe (MIns) DVD

DVD The typical battery life of the laptop when


running continuous DVD playback

FUJITSU LIFEBOOK P770 216

LENOVO THINKPAD T410S 141

SONY VAIO VPCZ11Z9E/B 196

TOSHIBA PORTG R600-149 N/A

BENCHMARK 154

0 100 200 300


Offering staggering power in such a slim and stylish chassis,
the Sony vastly exceeded our expectations. With power to
MObileMArK 2007 rival any laptop on the market, as well as a stunning HD
2
3
4 5 6
7
8
screen and great usability, this is an amazing machine and
1

This test reects how well each laptop the one we would denitely want in our bag when travelling.
0

handles tasks when on battery power

FUJITSU LIFEBOOK P770

LENOVO THINKPAD T410S


205

204
sILVer AWArD
SONY VAIO VPCZ11Z9E/B 328 Toshiba Portg R600-149
TOSHIBA PORTG R600-149 163

BENCHMARK 210

0 100 200 300 400

3DMArK 2003

A good 3D score can mean the difference


between good and bad graphics

FUJITSU LIFEBOOK P770 1187

LENOVO THINKPAD T410S 4066

SONY VAIO VPCZ11Z9E/B 16,951 While it lacks the power and features of the Sony, the
lightweight dimensions and usability of the Portg make it
TOSHIBA PORTG R600-149 1372
a pleasure to work with. Its unique screen technology makes
BENCHMARK 1765 it easy to work in all conditions and even performance is
surprisingly capable. Easily a Silver award winner.
0 5000 10,000 15,000 20,000

August 2010 WHAT LAPTOP 61


COMPETITION

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62 WHAT LAPTOP August 2010


GROUP TEST

Video editing software


Edit home movies in style with these top-notch editing suites

T
he world is increasingly becoming a digital
place. Whether its sharing quick video clips ADOBE A previous favourite for
caught on your mobile phone or capturing Premiere Elements 8 rst-time users, but is this
personal family moments on a high-denition (HD) 75 (inc. VAT) latest version any good?

VIDEO EDITING SOFTWARE


camcorder, there will always be clips you want to
get rid of and others you wish to enhance.
This is where video editing software comes into COREL An emphasis on ease-of-
its own. The suites on test here are designed to VideoStudio Pro X3 use, with a host of new
allow you to quickly import footage to your laptop, 79 (inc. VAT) features and HD support
then trim, edit and enhance your handiwork,
before preparing it for export to DVD or YouTube.
CYBERLINK
If you wish to export to disc, all ve suites offer A powerful and versatile
PowerDirector 8
quick and easy menu guides, as well as options for suite, built with Intel and
Ultra
easy uploading to the internet. For many, Blu-ray is nVidia technology in mind
60 (inc. VAT)
seen as the last disc format that will be made
commercially available, so while youll nd support
for Blu-ray is widely offered, in some cases you will PINNACLE One of the most intuitive
need to pay extra or download an update. Studio 14 HD Ultimate suites here, but has Pinnacle
All the packages weve brought together offer 100 (inc. VAT) solved its stability issues?
the standard array of functions we expect from
such tools, but where they differ is in their
SONY Has Sony managed to make
execution and performance, so read on to see
Vegas Movie Studio
what the latest video editing software suites can its high-end package more
9 Platinum Pro
do to enhance your busy digital life. accessible to new users?
90 (inc. VAT)
Reviews: Alex Bentley

August 2010 WHAT LAPTOP 63


GROUP TEST

ADOBE Premiere Elements 8 SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS DUAL-CORE 2GHZ CPU,


PRICE 75 (inc. VAT) SUPPLIER www.adobe.com/uk 1024MB MEMORY, GPU WITH 128MB
MEMORY, 4.5GB HARD DRIVE SPACE,
WINDOWS XP/VISTA/7

A dobe Premiere Elements 8 (75 inc.


VAT) is aimed at home users rather
than high-end enthusiasts, but has always
ever included on the installation DVD.
However, we found the new enhancing
and trimming tools far more impressive.
SUPPORTED FORMATS ASF, AVI, AVCHD, SWF,
DV, DVD, H.264, HDV, MPEG-1, MPEG-2,
MPEG-4, MP3, QUICKTIME
BLU-RAY EXPORT YES
impressed with its features and usability. The new Smart Trim tools bring a welcome
This latest update includes a host of new automated motion tracking feature that RATING 8
tools, such as a new organiser that makes scans for poor quality clips and marks
tagging and cataloguing your content them out, making them easy to edit out.
easier, as well as other key enhancements. Another new feature is Smart Fix, which
The interface remains largely unchanged can be set to run as soon as you import
in this latest version, so you can switch any new piece of footage. It works by
effortlessly between manual editing mode checking the video for shaky camera work,
and the easier Make Movie mode. However, poor lighting and blurred images and
big changes are in evidence with this works to x them before you get to edit
latest version; namely, the new Organiser them. It works reasonably well but, as with
interface, which allows you to easily tag, Smart Trim, it always pays to check the
sort and share images and videos, as well results before making nal cuts as the end
as quickly start up and use other Adobe result can sometimes be a little drastic.
Elements tools something previous Adobe Premiere Elements 8 remains one
versions of the software could not do. of the most effective and appealing video
Premiere Elements has always been editing suites you can buy. Ideal for the
known for its wide range of add-ons for rst-time user, its easy to get to grips with
casual users, such as clip art, themes and and, even if you already use an older
transitional effects, and this latest version version, there is enough in this release to
is no exception, as youll nd more than make it worth upgrading.

SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS DUAL-CORE 1.8GHZ CPU,


COREL VideoStudio Pro X3
1024MB MEMORY, GPU WITH 128MB PRICE 79 (inc. VAT) SUPPLIER www.corel.com/uk
MEMORY, 3GB HARD DRIVE SPACE,
WINDOWS XP/VISTA/7

C orel VideoStudio Pro X3 (79 inc. VAT) Then there are new lter effects, such
SUPPORTED FORMATS AVI, AVCHD, MPEG-4,
H.264, DV, HDV, DIVX, QUICKTIME, has had something of an overhaul, as AutoSketch which gives any chosen
REALVIDEO
BLU-RAY EXPORT YES
adding a great many features and making frame a hand-drawn feel and RotoSketch
it easier to use. When you load up the suite which adds a greyscale effect to videos.
RATING 8
VIDEO EDITING SOFTWARE

youre asked whether you wish to choose When it comes to exporting your edited
Easy Edit or Advanced Edit. Choosing the videos, the Share tab lets you create les
former loads a completely different for DVD and Blu-ray, as well as for online
application called VideoStudio Express use. Full support for a range of HD formats
2010, which is a great choice for making from import to export is also included.
simple edits and creating quick videos. What we really like about this latest
However, the same menus are also in the version is how much smoother the whole
Advanced version, so many users are sure process feels. You get the sense that Corel
to often bypass the basic version. has been working to not only streamline
The main interface of this suite is built the editing process, but also the time it
around sections titled Capture, Edit and takes to render video. With support for
Share, but it is the Edit section that has quad-core processors, as well as more
seen the most remodelling. Here you can emphasis on the laptops GPU especially
view the clips youve imported, as well as nVidias CUDA technology this package
the effects, lters and transitions on offer. works smoother on more mid-range
The new layout is simple and easy to use. laptops than was ever previously possible.
Its not just the interface that is new, as VideoStudio Pro X3 is a big step forward
youll also nd a range of new tools. We for Corels video editing platform, with the
really like the new picture-in-picture latest version packing a great number of
effects they take time to master, but the new features while streamlining the
results are well worth waiting for. performance of the package.

64 WHAT LAPTOP August 2010


GROUP TEST

SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS DUAL-CORE 1.8GHZ CPU,


CYBERLINK PowerDirector 8 Ultra
512MB MEMORY, GPU WITH 128MB
MEMORY, 5GB HARD DRIVE SPACE,
PRICE 60 (inc. VAT) SUPPLIER www.cyberlink.com
WINDOWS XP/VISTA/7
SUPPORTED FORMATS

BLU-RAY EXPORT
AVI, AVCHD, MPEG-4,
H.264, DV, QUICKTIME, DIVX
YES
C yberLink is best known for its DVD
movie playback software, but with
PowerDirector 8 Ultra (60 inc. VAT) it
tools helping video correction and
enhancement. All are handled through the
new TrueTheater utility, which works to
RATING 7 could well become known for cost- smooth out playback by adding extra
effective video editing too. This latest frames to your video, and balancing colour
version brings with it lots of new features and any undue camera shake.
and tools that make importing and editing CyberLink has also worked on improving
your videos a whole lot easier. performance speeds and PowerDirector is
One of the problems with previous one of the rst suites to offer support for
versions was its cluttered interface. While Intel Core i7 processors, as well as nVidias
youll still need to run it in full-screen mode CUDA technology. Overall, performance is
to get the best results, this latest version more than acceptable and a great
now provides dual-screen support, so if improvement over earlier versions.
youve got an external monitor attached to Youll also nd plenty of extras to help
your laptop, you can place many of the turn your video clips into full video movies
secondary functions on that screen. with a host of new effects, as well as
While the layout of the Homescreen export support for the YouTube website.
hasnt vastly changed, we found that As this package is nearly ten months old,
boxes scale much better and the whole CyberLink has released a 100MB update to
layout feels less overlapped and cluttered. add a good deal of stability to the suite.
CyberLink has clearly worked on the PowerDirector 8 Ultra isnt as smooth or
applications ease-of-use and performance. as easy to get to grips with as the Adobe
There are plenty of new features, from or Corel suites, but it is still a exible and
upscaling old movies to HD resolutions, to practical suite of editing tools.

Video editing the Apple option


The video editing suites weve looked someone looking for more high-end colour correction tools. Whats more, it
at in this group test are all intended for features, Apple Final Cut offers even lets you add real-time special
use with Windows laptops. However, if professional, high-end editing. Most effects and transitions. As you can
you own an Apple MacBook you need users will be familiar with Final Cut see, this software isnt aimed at those
not feel left out. After all, the Mac OS Express (129 inc. VAT), but there is looking to simply clean up and link
has long been seen as the perfect also a feature-packed high-end family videos together, but if youve an

VIDEO EDITING SOFTWARE


platform for those looking to edit version, Final Cut Studio (816 inc. VAT). interest in making more of your videos
video, images and music. Final Cut Express supports a virtually and taking a professional approach,
There are two main options available unlimited number of video tracks, lets then its well worth investing in a copy
for the Apple MacBook user. The rst is you add up to 99 audio tracks and also of Final Cut Express or Studio.
iMovie, which comes as part of the iLife provides powerful matting and
09 suite of tools (71 inc. VAT), along
with iPhoto, iDVD and Garageband.
Aimed at casual users, iMovie in many
ways replicates the functionality of
the editing suites weve reviewed here.
It offers the same three-step
approach to importing, editing and
exporting video clips and uses an
enhanced drag-and-drop interface to
make adding clips quick and easy.
There are also a host of features on
board, from video stabilisation of
Apples Final Cut
shaky clips to new transitions and provides market-leading,
cinema-quality video effects. professional video
editing tools and effects
For the more experienced user or

August 2010 WHAT LAPTOP 65


GROUP TEST

Video editing on a budget


The price of the average video editing moviemasher.com), JayCut (www. an older laptop or a humble netbook.
software suite has dropped a great jaycut.com) and MotionBox (www. On the downside, these applications
deal in recent years, but if you only motionbox.com) all work in a similar work best with lower-resolution video,
have the occasional clip you wish to fashion using a Java Flash application such as from a mobile phone rather
edit, then buying a fully edged editing for trimming and editing videos. than from a dedicated camcorder.
suite may not prove economical. Thats As the video processing is handled Video editing neednt be about
why youll nd Windows Movie Maker online youll nd that system resources having to spend money upfront to get
pre-installed on all Windows laptops. are less of an issue. All you need is a more than acceptable results. All you
Movie Maker is a great package for steady broadband connection and you need is a little forethought and an idea
trimming and editing clips, but if youre can edit your videos, even if you have of what you need to accomplish.
looking for something a little more
powerful, there are an increasing
number of free tools you can download
and use. Pinnacle Video Spin (www.
videospin.com) is one such option. It
offers an interface similar to the
paid-for version and allows you to
import, edit and share your clips with
ease. However, while it supports the
standard video formats, from MPEG to
DivX, weve found its better for editing
low-quality clips that youll upload
online rather than burning to DVD disc.
If youre looking for a video editing Online video editing tools
are the ideal choice for
tool with minimum resources, then try
those with older laptops
editing online. Movie Masher (www. and smaller budgets

SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS DUAL-CORE 2GHZ CPU,


PINNACLE Studio 14 HD Ultimate
1024MB MEMORY, GPU WITH 128MB PRICE 100 (inc. VAT) SUPPLIER www.pinnaclesys.com
MEMORY, 3.6GB HARD DRIVE SPACE,
WINDOWS XP/VISTA/7
SUPPORTED FORMATS AVI, AVCHD, MPEG-4,
H.264, DV, HDV, DIVX, QUICKTIME,
REALVIDEO
P innacle Studio 14 HD Ultimate (100
inc. VAT) has gone through many
changes in recent years, but this latest
organisational tool, but it works very well.
Were also impressed with the range of
export options on offer. For starters, you
BLU-RAY EXPORT YES
VIDEO EDITING SOFTWARE

edition feels like the most robust yet. can burn DVDs in standard and HD formats,
RATING 8 Pinnacle has always been an easy video with support for AVCHD and HDV. Support
editing suite to get to grips with and this for YouTube, PlayStation 3, Wii and Xbox,
latest version is no exception. We like the as well as the Apple iPod are also standard.
grey and rather neutral background and Pinnacle has worked hard on making this
the uncluttered three-step approach of latest version more robust and we found it
Import, Edit and Make Movie is easy to use. handled HD video without too much strain.
Editing is the core of this suite and there Youll still need at least a dual-core
are a number of changes on offer to make processor in your laptop to help make the
it even easier. The new album structure for most of the suite, but system requirements
nding your imported clips, in particular, arent as heavy as they once were.
feels a lot more intuitive to work with. Three versions of this suite are on offer,
Editing is still built around the drag-and- with this Ultimate edition coming with a
drop timeline of previous versions, but the host of extra video effects and features,
placement of Videos, Transitions, Montage as well as support for burning your nal
themes and Sound Effects tools all feel movies to high-denition (HD) Blu-ray discs.
easier to switch between than before. Pinnacle Studio 14 HD Ultimate is a solid
One new tool that makes editing easier package and while more experienced users
is the new Project Bin, which allows you to may prefer the Sony Vegas suite, Pinnacle
drag and drop all the individual assets you feels like the most versatile offering for
need for that project. This is more of an the casual home user.

66 WHAT LAPTOP August 2010


GROUP TEST

SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS 2.8GHZ CPU, 512MB


SONY Vegas Movie Studio 9 Platinum Pro
MEMORY, GPU WITH 128MB MEMORY, 200MB PRICE 90 (inc. VAT) SUPPLIER www.sonycreativesoftware.com
HARD DRIVE SPACE, WINDOWS XP/VISTA/7
SUPPORTED FORMATS AIFF, ATRAC, AVI, MPEG-1,
MPEG-2, MPEG-4, SONY M2TS, QUICKTIME,

BLU-RAY EXPORT
W64, WMV
YES
S ony Vegas Movie Studio 9 Platinum Pro
(90 inc. VAT) is perhaps the longest-
serving video editing suite here, as in many
only suitable for use with Sonys own video
cameras, you need not fear, as it offers full
support for all makes of AVCHD camcorder,
RATING 7 respects the core technology is built on as well as H.264 and smart rendering
Sonys more high-end software packages. support for MPEG-2 video. With output to
The interface is standard for a video Blu-ray in full 1920 x 1080-pixel mode also
editing package, with import and editing on offer, this is a fully rounded package and
tools in the top left-hand corner, a preview ideally suited to anyone looking to make
pane in the right, while a timeline runs the most of high-denition (HD) video.
along the foot of the screen. The most That said, the age of the package is
common tasks, such as trimming video and starting to show, as processing times are a
adding transitions and effects, are lot slower compared to the likes of the
accessed via tabs under the main window. Corel and CyberLink suites, which are
To help rst-time users get to grips with designed with Intel Core CPUs in mind.
the package, there is a 13-step beginners As with CyberLink PowerDirector, this
guide, which usefully orientates the user suite has been on offer long enough to
to the layout. However, once you start to garner a software update. Weighing in at a
use the suite, it is quite intuitive to use. little over 110MB youll be able to download
If you simply want to get on with editing it for free from the Sony Vegas website.
your videos, then we recommend using the Sony Vegas Movie Studio 9 Platinum Pro
Project and Make Movie wizards, which may be starting to show its age, but with
take a great deal of the legwork out of full support for the latest HD formats and
creating a nished video by taking many of its clean and easy-to-use interface, it is a
the mundane decisions out of your hands. suite that feels as though it has plenty of
If youre worried that this software is life left in it yet.

VIDEO EDITING SOFTWARE GOLD AWARD


AWARD WINNER
Corel VideoStudio Pro X3
While all ve packages on test offer the same level of
functionality, deciding on a winner came down to how Corel has made a number of changes that
intuitive the packages proved and how resource-heavy help it make the most of the latest CPUs
they were. CyberLink and Sony may not be the easiest and HD technologies, such as nVidia CUDA.

VIDEO EDITING SOFTWARE


to use, but they offer the most in terms of high-end Add to this a great interface and a stable
output. Meanwhile, Adobe and Pinnacle offer the casual platform and you have a video editing suite
user a great entry point into video editing with both ideal for novice and experienced users alike.
having easy-to-use interfaces and plenty of features.

Adobe Corel Cy berLink Pinna cle Sony


DETAILS Premiere Elements 8 VideoStudio Pro X3 PowerDirector 8 Ultra Studio 14 HD Ultima te Vega s Movie Studio
9 Pla tinum Pro
PRICE (INC. VAT) 75 79 60 100 90
SUPPLIER www.adobe.com/uk www.corel.com/uk www.cyberlink.com www.pinnaclesys.com www.
sonycreativesoftware.
com
SYSTEM Dual-Core 2GHz CPU, Dual-Core 1.8GHz CPU, Dual-Core 1.8GHz CPU, Dual-Core 2GHz CPU, 2.8GHz CPU,
REQUIREMENTS 1024MB Memory, 1024MB Memory, 512MB Memory, 1024MB Memory, 512MB Memory,
GPU with 128MB Memory, GPU with 128MB Memory, GPU with 128MB Memory, GPU with 128MB Memory, GPU with 128MB
4.5GB Hard Drive Space, 3GB Hard Drive Space, 5GB Hard Drive Space, 3.6GB Hard Drive Space, Memory,
Windows XP/Vista/7 Windows XP/Vista/7 Windows XP/Vista/7 Windows XP/Vista/7 200MB Hard Drive
Space, Windows XP/
Vista/7
INPUT MODES ASF, AVI, AVCHD, SWF, DV, AVI, AVCHD, MPEG-4, H.264, AVI, AVCHD, MPEG-4, H.264, AVI, AVCHD, AIFF, ATRAC, AVI,
DVD, H.264, HDV, MPEG-1, DV, HDV, DivX, QuickTime, DV, Mov, DivX MPEG-4, H.264, DV, MPEG-1, MPEG-2,
MPEG-2, MPEG-4, MP3, RealVideo HDV, DivX, QuickTime, MPEG-4, Sony M2TS,
QuickTime RealVideo QuickTime, W64, WMV
BLU- RAY EXPORT Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
RATING 8 8 7 8 7

August 2010 WHAT LAPTOP 67


FIRST LOOK REVIEWS

E-CODE MC497B/A
APPLE iPad
SUPPLIER WWW.APPLE.COM/UKSTORE PRICE 699 (inc. VAT) DELIVERY CHARGE Free
TELEPHONE 0800 048 0408
PROCESSOR APPLE 1GHZ A4
MEMORY
HARD DRIVE
256MB
64GB (SSD)
IN BRIEF: An excellent and unique device,
OPTICAL DRIVE
SCREEN SIZE AND TYPE
NO
9.7-INCH SUPER-TFT
despite a number of notable omissions
DISPLAY RESOLUTION 1024 X 768 (WSVGA)
GRAPHICS CARD
DIMENSIONS
WEIGHT
POWERVR SGX 535
243 X 190 X 15MM
700G
A pples iPad (699 inc. VAT) has nally
arrived in the UK amidst a whirlwind
of speculation. While this rst-generation
menus that can be scrolled through with a
ick of the nger. Websurng via the Safari
browser is the main strength of this device
WIRELESS LAN 802.11N
ETHERNET NO model lacks features, it does its job well and websites load quickly with 802.11n
USB PORTS NO and is currently the best mobile tablet Wi-Fi and 3G both available for wireless
FIREWIRE NO touchscreen device for surng the web. networking. Sadly, theres no native ash
OPERATING SYSTEM APPLE IPHONE OS 3.2
First impressions include surprise at support, so video on sites such as BBC
STANDARD WARRANTY 1 YR C&R P&L
how thin the chassis is and how much News wont load, although a dedicated
lighter this is than the various laptop- YouTube app lets you access and view
tablet convertibles weve seen recently. videos from the popular website.
BENCHMARKS Its comfortable to hold, even with one The responsive 9.7-inch touchscreen
BATTERY LIFE MINUTES hand, although we found our wrists ached features full gesture control support and
Apple 423 slightly after prolonged use. A border is perfect for browsing the web and media,
Benchmark Machine 201
around the screen prevents your thumbs with photos and videos all appearing sharp
MOBILEMARK 2007 accidentally brushing the touchscreen. and vibrant. Colours jump from the screen
Apple N/A Buttons are minimal, with a Home and look natural, and excellent brightness
Benchmark Machine 210
button on the face and power, volume levels mean extended browsing sessions
3DMARK 2003 controls and screen lock to disable view are easy on the eye. Our only complaint is
Apple N/A reorientation on the sides. A standard the reective nature of the display and the
Benchmark Machine 1765
Apple connector port lets you connect to ease with which it attracts smudges.
your laptop via USB for activities such as
See page 44 for benchmark specication
synching media via iTunes, but the iPad Ample apps
has no USB ports of its own to attach The sheer number of available apps is
VALUE FOR MONEY 6 peripherals. Other features such as an great, so its a shame you cant multi-task
PERFORMANCE 6
integrated camera are also absent. with them, but you can listen to music and
FEATURES 5
BUILD QUALITY 8 Apples iPhone operating system runs browse the internet simultaneously.
the show and is just as smooth and user- Typing is a mixed experience, despite
OVERALL 7 friendly here, with simple stripped-down the well-sized onscreen keyboard and
decent auto-correct. One-handed typing is
too laborious for anything other than short
emails, while the unit shakes if laid at for
two-handed typing due to the rounded
back. The lack of tactile feedback and the
fact that numbers and symbols are buried
What type of in a sub-menu adds to the frustration.
user are you?
See page 104 The iPad is a well-built device, ideal for
web browsing and playing around on the
thousands of available apps. Heres hoping
the next version has more features, as this
device has a lot of potential.

GESTURE CONTROL
FIRST LOOK REVIEWS

A gesture-based method of interaction


found on many modern touchpads and
touchscreens. Pinching two ngers
together, for example, zooms out of a
document or internet page, while
spreading them out again zooms back
in. Various other actions are possible,
such as rotating images.

68 WHAT LAPTOP August 2010


FIRST LOOK REVIEWS

DELL Precision M4500 E-CODE N/A


PRICE 1887 (inc. VAT) DELIVERY CHARGE 24 SUPPLIER WWW.DELL.CO.UK
TELEPHONE 0844 444 3971
PROCESSOR INTEL 2.4GHZ CORE I5 520M

IN BRIEF: Design professionals will nd plenty MEMORY


HARD DRIVE
4096MB DDR3 SDRAM
500GB (5400RPM)

to like in this sturdy, feature-packed portable OPTICAL DRIVE


SCREEN SIZE AND TYPE
TRI-FORMAT DVD DL
15.6-INCH TFT
DISPLAY RESOLUTION 1600 X 900 (WXGA++)

D ells Precision M4500 (1887 inc. The screen is incredibly sharp and the GRAPHICS CARD NVIDIA QUADRO FX 1800M
VAT) is a high-powered workstation matt-TFT coating means that reections DIMENSIONS 375 X 254 X 38MM
WEIGHT 3KG
aimed at creative professionals such as are eliminated. The screen is housed in WIRELESS LAN 802.11N
designers and 3D animators. It comes with a reassuringly thick lid with a brushed ETHERNET GIGABIT
a reassuringly solid build and high-powered aluminium exterior, while the rest of USB PORTS 4
FIREWIRE MINI
performance for working on the move. the chassis is bulky but solid. The wide
OPERATING SYSTEM WINDOWS 7 PROFESSIONAL
At this price, we had hoped for a top-end palmrest shows almost no ex under STANDARD WARRANTY 3 YRS OS NBD P&L
Intel Core i7 processor, but the dual-core pressure and makes it comfortable to
Intel Core i5 CPU used here offers more type on the equally solid keyboard.
than enough power to run resource- With its tapered, rmly mounted keys,
hungry applications, suitable for multi- the keyboard is perfect for typing for long BENCHMARKS
tasking with powerful creative software. periods, although theres no dedicated BATTERY LIFE MINUTES
3D performance also impresses thanks to numeric keypad for data entry. The Dell 260
Benchmark Machine 201
the dedicated nVidia Quadro graphics card touchpad is a little cramped, but you can
nVidias professional business graphics run your nger along the right and bottom MOBILEMARK 2007
solution so 3D designers and video edges to scroll through documents or web Dell 245
Benchmark Machine 210
editors can comfortably and reliably run pages, and theres a third mouse button
the latest multimedia software. for doing the same thing. Theres also a 3DMARK 2003
textured pointing stick in the centre of the Dell 20,975

Feature-rich keyboard, which can be used instead of


Benchmark Machine 1765

Where this laptop really shows its value the touchpad to move the cursor.
See page 44 for benchmark specication
is the number of features it crams in. The Dell Precision M4500 is a well-
For starters, theres a PC Card and an built workstation which packs in an
ExpressCard slot for attaching peripherals, impressive number of features for design VALUE FOR MONEY 7
PERFORMANCE 8
in addition to four USB ports, one of which professionals. While an Intel Core i7 CPU
FEATURES 8
doubles as an eSATA port. Dell has also would have been preferable, performance BUILD QUALITY 8
included a Smart Card slot, a feature rarely is strong enough for multi-tasking with
found on laptops, which can be used for high-end multimedia applications.
OVERALL 8
enhanced authentication purposes.
The 500GB hard drive means theres
plenty of room for storing your les
and applications. An SD Card slot is also
in place and allows this to be further
expanded. Gigabit Ethernet and 802.11n
Wi-Fi provide high-speed networking What type of
user are you?
options, and theres also built-in Bluetooth. See page 104
The only noticeable omissions are a
ngerprint scanner and an HDMI port
although DisplayPort and VGA port
options are both available.

ESATA PORT
FIRST LOOK REVIEWS

Many higher priced laptops feature an


eSATA or External Serial ATA port.
This is used to connect external hard
drives, either to back up your laptops
les and folders or to expand your
storage. Transfer speeds via eSATA are
faster than they are via USB or FireWire,
making them ideal for data backups.

August 2010 WHAT LAPTOP 69


FIRST LOOK REVIEWS

E-CODE 138081
ADVENT Modena
SUPPLIER WWW.PCWORLD.CO.UK PRICE 350 (inc. VAT) DELIVERY CHARGE Free
TELEPHONE 0844 561 0000
PROCESSOR INTEL 1.9GHZ CELERON T3100
MEMORY
HARD DRIVE
2048MB DDR3 SDRAM
320GB (5400RPM)
IN BRIEF: Great usability, storage and screen,
OPTICAL DRIVE
SCREEN SIZE AND TYPE
DUAL-FORMAT DVD DL
15.6-INCH SUPER-TFT
but performance and battery life disappoint
DISPLAY RESOLUTION 1366 X 768 (WXGA)
GRAPHICS CARD
DIMENSIONS
WEIGHT
INTEL GMA 4500M
382 X 242 X 33MM
2.5KG
A dvent is PC Worlds in-house brand
and comprises a range of affordable
entry-level machines. Its Advent Modena
While not as sharp as we would have
liked, colour and contrast are fantastic
and really bring photos and movies to life.
WIRELESS LAN 802.11N
ETHERNET 10/100 (350 inc. VAT) is a usable option for the Even the glossy Super-TFT coating is less
USB PORTS 3 rst-time buyer and includes a bright and reective than some weve seen.
FIREWIRE NO vibrant screen, but performance is poor. At this low price, limited performance
OPERATING SYSTEM WINDOWS 7 HOME PREMIUM
The slim chassis carries the same basic is commonplace. While the Intel Celeron
STANDARD WARRANTY 1 YR RTB P&L
design scheme weve come to expect from processor is backed by 2048MB of high-
the Advent range, but its patterned glossy speed DDR3 memory, the Modena only
lid and matt-plastic interior create a nice suits the most basic home use, such as
BENCHMARKS contrast. The plain black design is a little word processing, browsing the internet
BATTERY LIFE MINUTES uninspiring, but doesnt detract too much and watching the occasional DVD.
Advent 136 from the sleek consumer styling.
Benchmark Machine 201
At 2.5kg, this is a machine that is easy Poor graphics
MOBILEMARK 2007 to use around the home or on shorter Graphics dont fare any better, with the
Advent 113 journeys. With a depth of just 33mm, integrated Intel graphics card providing
Benchmark Machine 210
it slips easily into a carry case, so its bare bones power. Basic photo and video
3DMARK 2003 disappointing that the battery runs for just editing is possible, but high-denition (HD)
Advent 1562 over two hours a truly awful result. video and high-resolution image editing
Benchmark Machine 1765
Usability is more pleasing, with the quickly brings the GPU to its knees.
isolated-style keyboard proving very Thankfully, ample storage compensates
See page 44 for benchmark specication
comfortable to use. A numeric keypad somewhat. The 320GB hard drive provides
is tted on the boards right-hand side, more than enough space for a family to
VALUE FOR MONEY 6 for fast data input and making quick store music, photos and videos. You can
PERFORMANCE 5
calculations, and the glossy textured also easily create your own CDs and DVDs
FEATURES 6
BUILD QUALITY 6 touchpad is tactile and works well. using the built-in DVD rewriter.
The most notable feature of this Surprisingly at such a low-price, high-
OVERALL 6 machine is its vibrant 15.6-inch screen. speed wireless connectivity is provided by
802.11n Wi-Fi. An integrated camera is also
in place, tted above the screen, and lets
you capture snapshots and even record
video for easy online video messaging use.
Offering good usability, a great screen
and ample storage at such a low price, the
What type of Advent Modena is sure to please rst-
user are you? time buyers looking for an affordable and
See page 104
portable bargain. Its limited performance
and awful battery life cannot be ignored,
however, so we would recommend you
shop around before buying.

ISOLATED-STYLE
FIRST LOOK REVIEWS

One of the more popular keyboard


designs of late, isolated boards feature
keys that protrude through individual
holes cut in the laptops chassis. This
increases the space between each key,
making them easier to access and
reducing the amount of dust and dirt
that can settle beneath the keys.

70 WHAT LAPTOP August 2010


FIRST LOOK REVIEWS

SAMSUNG X420 E-CODE X420-JA01UK


PRICE 599 (inc. VAT) DELIVERY CHARGE Free SUPPLIER WWW.PCWORLD.CO.UK
TELEPHONE 0844 561 0000
PROCESSOR INTEL 1.3GHZ CORE 2 DUO SU7300

IN BRIEF: A great portable option, although MEMORY


HARD DRIVE
3072MB DDR3 SDRAM
320GB (5400RPM)

the keyboard is not as good as expected OPTICAL DRIVE


SCREEN SIZE AND TYPE
NO
14.1-INCH SUPER-TFT
DISPLAY RESOLUTION 1366 X 768 (WXGA)

T heres been a huge increase in the The laptop provides roughly twice the GRAPHICS CARD INTEL GMA 4500M
number of Consumer Ultra-Low power of a netbook, and can easily multi- DIMENSIONS 342 X 223 X 32MM
WEIGHT 1.8KG
Voltage (CULV) ultraportable laptops task ofce applications. Use anything WIRELESS LAN 802.11N
recently, and one of the latest offerings more resource-intensive, such as a ETHERNET 10/100
is the Samsung X420 (599 inc. VAT). Built multimedia suite, however, and the laptop USB PORTS 3
FIREWIRE NO
for portability, those after a slim, light and will quickly show signs of system lag.
OPERATING SYSTEM WINDOWS 7 HOME PREMIUM
usable machine to accompany them on The 320GB hard drive will provide STANDARD WARRANTY 1 YR C&R P&L
their travels will nd plenty to like here. plenty of room for all your work les and
If youre going to be on the road for folders. Due to the slim chassis theres
hours on end, decent portability is a must. no optical drive built into the machine,
Fortunately, the Samsung delivers and the although an external drive does come BENCHMARKS
504-minute battery life means you wont bundled in the box for watching DVDs or BATTERY LIFE MINUTES
have to carry the charger around with you installing applications when at home. Samsung 504
Benchmark Machine 201
at all times. The laptop is also comfortably Other features include an integrated
light at only 1.8kg and we had no problems webcam for making video calls over MOBILEMARK 2007
travelling over long distances with it. the internet, and also Bluetooth for Samsung 142
Benchmark Machine 210
Build quality is impressive, with hard connecting to wireless devices such as
black plastics making up the chassis, while your smartphone. 802.11n Wi-Fi provides 3DMARK 2003
the thick lid provides good protection for the fastest wireless networking currently Samsung 1486
Benchmark Machine 1765
the 14.1-inch screen inside. Its also an available, and the three USB ports offer
attractive machine and the silver trim and plenty of room for connecting peripherals.
See page 44 for benchmark specication
glossy lid make a good impression. The Samsung X420 is a great machine. It
is a real pity the typing action isnt rmer,
Bright screen but ultimately this doesnt detract from VALUE FOR MONEY 6
PERFORMANCE 7
The screen itself is very bright, and boasts what is a very rounded mobile computing
FEATURES 7
a sharp 1366 x 768-pixel resolution. As solution. Excellent portability and decent BUILD QUALITY 7
a result, the picture it produces is very performance make this a great choice for
detailed, with colour and contrast also the regular traveller on a budget.
OVERALL 7
impressing, bringing photos to vivid life.
If this laptop has a aw, its the
keyboard. It is suitably large, but has a
very spongy typing action. Some may like
the extra give that the board delivers, but
we found it hindered usability. The large
palmrest provides room enough for a What type of
user are you?
decent sized, responsive touchpad. See page 104
Samsung has employed an Intel CULV
processor. It is designed to be very
resource-light on the laptops battery, with
the trade-off being limited performance.

802.11N
FIRST LOOK REVIEWS

This is the most recent Wi-Fi standard,


offering the fastest connection speeds.
Older laptops use the 802.11b or
802.11g standards, which are slightly
slower. 802.11a is a third standard
which is primarily used in the US.
Laptops with an 802.11n connection are
compatible with older technologies.

August 2010 WHAT LAPTOP 71


FIRST LOOK REVIEWS

E-CODE 6737805
ACER Aspire 1825PTZ-413G25n
SUPPLIER WWW.SAVEONLAPTOPS.CO.UK PRICE 600 (inc. VAT) DELIVERY CHARGE Free
TELEPHONE 0121 260 0050
PROCESSOR INTEL 1.3GHZ PENTIUM SU4100
MEMORY
HARD DRIVE
3072MB DDR2 SDRAM
250GB (5400RPM)
IN BRIEF: Great portability and an impressive
OPTICAL DRIVE
SCREEN SIZE AND TYPE
NO
11.6-INCH SUPER-TFT
and well-implemented touchscreen
DISPLAY RESOLUTION 1366 X 768 (WXGA)
GRAPHICS CARD
DIMENSIONS
WEIGHT
INTEL GMA 4500M
286 X 212 X 36MM
1.7KG
T ouchscreen laptops are making a
comeback in 2010 and the Acer Aspire
1825PTZ-413G25n (600 inc. VAT) is an
TouchPortal software to take advantage
of the touchscreen controls. You open
the application by pulling the top-right
WIRELESS LAN 802.11N
ETHERNET 10/100 11.6-inch CULV touchscreen machine with corner of the screen, and can browse
USB PORTS 3 a literal twist, as the display rotates 180 your photos, music and videos with a ick
FIREWIRE NO degrees until it is facing backwards and of your nger. Touch controls appear on
OPERATING SYSTEM WINDOWS 7 HOME PREMIUM
can be folded back over the keyboard to screen for playing, pausing and skipping
STANDARD WARRANTY 1 YR C&R P&L
transform the device into a tablet PC. through tracks. Our only complaint is that
In tablet form, the machine can be laid the TouchPortal software doesnt support
at on a desk or held in one hand, with the accelerometer, so youre stuck with a
BENCHMARKS the other hand free to manipulate the landscape view although we found that
BATTERY LIFE MINUTES touchscreen. The 11.6-inch LED-backlit this is ideal for watching video anyway.
Acer 521 screen is highly responsive to touch and When you tire of the touch controls, you
Benchmark Machine 201
refreshingly bright, producing sharp and can revert back to laptop form and use the
MOBILEMARK 2007 vivid images. At 1.7kg you wont want to physical keyboard. The raised-key design
Acer 127 hold it one-handed for long, but its light and at keys wont suit everyones taste
Benchmark Machine 210
enough for carrying on the daily commute. but theyre well-proportioned, except
3DMARK 2003 Theres no stylus for more precise for the rather cramped directional keys.
Acer 1350 interaction, but we had no problem Unfortunately, the board is noticeably
Benchmark Machine 1765
navigating through Windows using just our spongy, which is surprising considering
ngertips. You can hold your nger on the Acers usual high-quality build.
See page 44 for benchmark specication
display for a right-click or use the side-
button for cycling through shortcuts such Integrated graphics
VALUE FOR MONEY 6 as Ctrl-Alt-Del. Another handy feature is 3D performance is very basic thanks
PERFORMANCE 6
the built-in accelerometer, which detects to the integrated Intel GPU, so simple
FEATURES 8
BUILD QUALITY 6 which way youre holding the device and photo editing is the limit of this machines
swivels the desktop to suit your view. multimedia capabilities. A low-voltage
OVERALL 7 Acer has included its media hub Pentium processor has also been used,
which limits daily activities to general
ofce tasks and web browsing. However,
the stunning 521-minute battery life
makes this a highly portable solution for
regular commuters.
Overall, the Aspire 1825PTZ-413G25n is a
What type of smart and portable CULV laptop with some
user are you?
See page 104 decent features. Theres no optical drive,
but the tablet conversion is a neat idea
and more than just a novelty thanks to the
well thought out TouchPortal software
and excellent screen.

CULV
FIRST LOOK REVIEWS

Consumer Ultra-Low Voltage laptops


contain specially designed Intel
processors, which use as little power
as possible. The resultant performance
is not usually as impressive as that of
standard Intel processors, but the
trade-off is a thinner build and
increased battery life.

72 WHAT LAPTOP August 2010


FIRST LOOK REVIEWS

MSI GX740 E-CODE MSI14022


PRICE 1000 (inc. VAT) DELIVERY CHARGE Free SUPPLIER WWW.ANVIKA.COM
TELEPHONE 0207 467 6050
PROCESSOR INTEL 2.26GHZ CORE I5 430M

IN BRIEF: A highly affordable gaming laptop MEMORY


HARD DRIVE
4096MB DDR3 SDRAM
500GB (5400RPM)

offering impressively powerful graphics OPTICAL DRIVE


SCREEN SIZE AND TYPE
TRI-FORMAT DVD-DL
17-INCH SUPER-TFT
DISPLAY RESOLUTION 1680 X 1050 (WSXGA+)

M SIs G Series is tailored for gamers, resolution, so images appear beautifully GRAPHICS CARD ATI MOBILITY RADEON HD 5870
packing strong performance and crisp. Its a bright screen too and isnt DIMENSIONS 395 X 278 X 43 MM
WEIGHT 3.2KG
excellent features. The GX740 (1000 overly reective, despite the glossy WIRELESS LAN 802.11N
inc. VAT) looks to continue this trend and coating. VGA and HDMI connections allow ETHERNET GIGABIT
combines a typically robust MSI build with output to an external display. USB PORTS 4
FIREWIRE 1 MINI
a great level of graphics performance. The excellent build quality extends
OPERATING SYSTEM WINDOWS 7 HOME PREMIUM
The chassis stands out with a black and to the keyboard with its rm and well- STANDARD WARRANTY 2 YRS C&R P&L
red brushed-aluminium retro design that rounded keys. They appear a bit cramped,
looks great, but perhaps wont appeal yet are smooth to type with. A separate
to all tastes. For a gaming portable, its numeric keypad is also in place which is
surprisingly quiet in operation and also perfect for more complex games. Extra BENCHMARKS
quite thin. The 3.2kg weight is lighter than features are also strong, including four BATTERY LIFE MINUTES
many of its gaming competitors, but the USB ports, an eSATA port for connecting MSI 83
Benchmark Machine 201
dreadful 83 minutes of battery life is well external hard drives to back up the internal
under what we would expect of a modern 500GB hard drive, and an ExpressCard slot. MOBILEMARK 2007
laptop and greatly reduces portability. MSI has also included a touch-sensitive MSI N/A
Benchmark Machine 210
Since this is a gaming laptop, the main media bar above the keyboard for
feature is obviously the performance. controlling music and movie playback. 3DMARK 2003
Youll nd 4096MB of high-speed DDR3 You can also turn on options such as Wi-Fi, MSI 29,981
Benchmark Machine 1765
memory in place, but a dual-core Intel or the Eco Mode setting which aims to
Core i5 processor has been used instead prolong mobility by reducing performance.
See page 44 for benchmark specication
of the more powerful Core i7 range, which The MSI GX740 is a sturdy beast that
reduces future-proong somewhat. is still quite slim for a gaming laptop,
However, this laptop is still powerful especially considering the excellent VALUE FOR MONEY 8
PERFORMANCE 7
enough to handle most tasks with ease. graphics and features MSI has packed in.
FEATURES 8
While a Core i7 CPU would have provided BUILD QUALITY 8
Powerful GPU even more power, the dual-core Core i5 and
What truly impressed us was the inclusion ATi GPU still perform admirably.
OVERALL 8
of an ATi Mobility Radeon HD 5870 graphics
card, complete with 1024MB of dedicated
video memory. This is one of the most
powerful GPUs weve seen in a laptop
and gave outstanding results in our 3D
benchmarking tests, so even the most
complex games and multimedia tasks such What type of
user are you?
as professional video editing are possible. See page 104
All that power would be wasted without
a striking display to back it up, but the 17-
inch Super-TFT screen is large enough for
gaming and has a sharp 1680 x 1050-pixel

DDR3
FIRST LOOK REVIEWS

The natural successor to DDR2


memory, were seeing DDR3 appear in
laptops more frequently these days.
DDR3 not only transfers data at twice
the rate of DDR2, thus helping your
laptop run faster, it also consumes
signicantly less power, which means
you can enjoy a longer battery life.

August 2010 WHAT LAPTOP 73


FIRST LOOK REVIEWS

E-CODE 4049699272905
FUJITSU LifeBook S760
SUPPLIER WWW.MISCO.CO.UK PRICE 1294 (inc. VAT) DELIVERY CHARGE 5
TELEPHONE 0800 038 8880
PROCESSOR INTEL 2.4GHZ CORE I5 520M
MEMORY
HARD DRIVE
4096MB DDR3 SDRAM
320GB (5400RPM)
IN BRIEF: A highly-portable powerhouse but
OPTICAL DRIVE
SCREEN SIZE AND TYPE
TRI-FORMAT DVD DL
13.3-INCH TFT
we found overall build quality to be mixed
DISPLAY RESOLUTION 1366 X 768 (WXGA)
GRAPHICS CARD
DIMENSIONS
WEIGHT
INTEL GMA HD
316 X 225 X 35MM
1.7KG
F ujitsu was one of the rst to use
the latest low-voltage Intel Core i7
processor for its LifeBook P770 laptop
a DVD drive into the thin and light chassis.
The textured design on both the lid and
interior is resilient to ngerprints and other
WIRELESS LAN 802.11N
ETHERNET GIGABIT (reviewed last issue), which delivered scuff marks, although the result is a rather
USB PORTS 3 impressive performance and battery plain plastic look. More concerning is the
FIREWIRE NO life. The Fujitsu LifeBook S760 (1294 weakness of the chassis, which shows a
OPERATING SYSTEM WINDOWS 7 PROFESSIONAL
inc. VAT) uses a standard rather than a lot of ex around the palmrests and the
STANDARD WARRANTY 2 YRS C&R P&L
low-voltage Intel Core i5 processor, so screen. A well-padded carry case will be
battery life isnt as impressive, but the essential to avoid damage on the move.
laptop is almost as thin and light as the Thankfully this poor build quality does
BENCHMARKS P770 and performance is even better. not extend to the keyboard, which is very
BATTERY LIFE MINUTES The Core i5 CPU showed stunning rm with a perfect amount of travel. The
Fujitsu 269 levels of power during our benchmarking tapered keys are excellent for touch-
Benchmark Machine 201
tests. Multi-tasking with resource-hungry typing and are well spaced and logically
MOBILEMARK 2007 applications is no problem. Multimedia placed. The touchpad is also excellent,
Fujitsu 253 performance is a little more limited with two mouse buttons separated by a
Benchmark Machine 210
because of the integrated Intel graphics ngerprint scanner which provides extra
3DMARK 2003 card, but we found that basic amounts of security for your essential documents.
Fujitsu 3528 gaming and photo editing is possible.
Benchmark Machine 1765
When working away from the ofce Circular touchpad
we managed to squeeze 269 minutes Usability is enhanced by a circular
See page 44 for benchmark specication
from the battery which is more than scrollpad. Rotating your nger clockwise
enough for most commutes. Mobility on the pad scrolls down any documents
VALUE FOR MONEY 6 is further enhanced by the slim dimensions or web pages youre viewing, while anti-
PERFORMANCE 8
and 1.7kg weight, which places this clockwise motions scroll back up. There
FEATURES 7
BUILD QUALITY 5 laptop in the ultraportable category. are also a row of shortcut buttons above
This is even more impressive when the keyboard for performing actions such
OVERALL 7 considering that Fujitsu has managed to t as locking the laptop or making changes to
the power settings.
The 13.3-inch display isnt the brightest
around and images lack vibrancy, but the
screen is non-reective, making it perfect
for working outdoors or in bright ofces.
Other features include a Sleep-and-Charge
What type of USB port, which charges portable devices
user are you?
See page 104 even when the laptop is switched off.
The LifeBook S760 isnt cheap, but it
packs a lot of power into a portable chassis.
Sadly, the fantastic usability is slightly
awed by the poor build quality.

ULTRAPORTABLE
FIRST LOOK REVIEWS

Any laptop that weighs 2kg or less and


is designed to provide optimum
mobility for frequent use on the road.
Older ultraportables used to sacrice
performance and features for a
slimmed-down chassis, but modern
ultraportables can easily match much
larger laptops in terms of power.

74 WHAT LAPTOP August 2010


FIRST LOOK REVIEWS

HANNSPREE SN10-E218 E-CODE N/A


PRICE 259 (inc. VAT) DELIVERY CHARGE 10 SUPPLIER WWW.HANNSPREE.COM/EU
TELEPHONE 0871 666 0850
PROCESSOR INTEL 1.66GHZ ATOM N450

IN BRIEF: A highly portable and well-built MEMORY


HARD DRIVE
1024MB DDR2 SDRAM
160GB (5400RPM)

netbook with very few notable aws OPTICAL DRIVE


SCREEN SIZE AND TYPE
NO
10.1-INCH TFT
DISPLAY RESOLUTION 1024 X 600 (WSVGA)

T aiwanese manufacturer HannSpree will quickly attract dust, smudges and GRAPHICS CARD INTEL GMA 3150
is best known for its LCD monitors ngerprints. The chassis is solid enough to DIMENSIONS 266 X 191 X 30MM
WEIGHT 1.3KG
and televisions, but also offers a small survive a few knocks on the road. WIRELESS LAN 802.11N
range of laptops and netbooks. The The keyboard exes slightly in the ETHERNET GIGABIT
SN10-E218 (259 inc. VAT) is a light and centre, although not enough to interfere USB PORTS 3
FIREWIRE NO
compact netbook which boasts strong with typing. An isolated-style keyboard
OPERATING SYSTEM WINDOWS 7 STARTER
portability and suffers from very few has been used, which is unusual for a STANDARD WARRANTY 2 YRS C&R P&L
obvious aws. netbook, but it works well. The only
Most netbooks offer rather limited drawback is the cramped nature of a few
performance, using low-powered Intel of the keys, such as the tiny Shift keys.
Atom processors and integrated graphics The SN12s touchpad was hampered by BENCHMARKS
to cut down size and prolong battery life. tiny mouse buttons which were sunken BATTERY LIFE MINUTES
This netbook is no exception with the into the chassis and hard to press. We Hannspree 469
Benchmark Machine 201
1.66GHz Atom N450 CPU running the show. were disappointed at rst to see the same
Basic ofce tasks run ne, although some design used here, but the mouse buttons MOBILEMARK 2007
applications take a while to open and actually protrude fully and arent awkward Hannspree 46
Benchmark Machine 210
multi-tasking grinds everything to a halt. to use. The touchpad itself is highly
An integrated Intel GPU is in place and is sensitive and can be turned off by pressing 3DMARK 2003
acceptable for watching video and basic a button just beneath it. Hannspree 728
Benchmark Machine 1765
photo editing, but anything more complex Features are minimal, as with all
is out of the question. The 10.1-inch TFT netbooks. A 3-in-1 memory card reader
See page 44 for benchmark specication
display is bright and sharp enough for is found alongside three USB ports and a
prolonged working, and can comfortably VGA port, but theres no optical drive.
be viewed outdoors as it is non-reective. The SN10-E218 is a well-built netbook VALUE FOR MONEY 6
PERFORMANCE 6
with very few aws. Portability
FEATURES 6
Highly portable is particularly impressive, even if BUILD QUALITY 7
Performance may be limited, but the performance and features are limited, and
trade-off is extended battery life and in the asking price is just right.
OVERALL 6
this respect the Hannspree excels. We
managed to work for 469-minutes away
from the mains, which is enough for a full
day out of the ofce. The 1.3kg weight
and 30mm-thick chassis make this a highly
portable machine that can comfortably
be slipped into most bags. What type of
user are you?
The actual chassis is similar to that See page 104
used for the Hannspree SN12, which we
reviewed last issue. A glossy nish has
been used for the lid and the interior and
looks smart if unremarkable, although it

INTEL ATOM
FIRST LOOK REVIEWS

An Intel processor designed for use in


low-cost laptops, netbooks and
desktop PCs. It uses older technology
and provides slow clock-speeds and
limited amounts of L2 cache, but as it
works at a reduced voltage it can be
used in the smallest laptops and
netbooks as well as fan-less machines.

August 2010 WHAT LAPTOP 75


GROUP TEST

PORTABLE FREECOM Mobile Drive XXS


PRICE 85 (inc. VAT) www.freecom.com/uk

HARD DRIVES IN BRIEF: Compact and impressive

FOR MAC OS

T he Freecom Mobile Drive


XXS is considered the
smallest portable hard drive
being designed to support both
Mac OS and Windows laptops,
youll nd it a versatile choice.
of its kind. While it uses the Once installed, additional
standard 2.5-inch laptop drive software is kept to a minimum,

E ven if your laptop never leaves your desk you should have a
back-up plan in place. Modern thinking on back-up storage is
that you should have at least twice the capacity of your laptop,
found in the other devices
here, Freecom has done away
with the traditional hard casing
with a TurboBoost utility for
Windows machines and only
Adobe Reader in place for Mac
which means buying an external hard drive with sufcient disk surround, opting instead for a OS laptops. Sadly, there is no
space to handle all your regular les, as well as anything else sleek rubber sheath. security software installed
you like to store, such as movies, photos and music. Weighing in at just 155g, the for Macs, but there is a 90-day
All external hard drives can be formatted to work with drive weighs the same as the free trial of MySecurityCenter
either Windows or Mac laptops and while in the past weve slightly larger and encased software for Windows.
concentrated on drives for Windows, we felt it was time to take Verbatim, which would suggest The 500GB hard drive is a
a look at what is on offer for the Apple user. In fairness, only that most of the weight is in standard 5400rpm disk with
the Western Digital drive here is solely aimed at Mac use, but the hard drive itself and not in 8MB of cache. When it came to
with separate software and tools bundled for each OS, weve the enclosure. However, the testing we were able to write
specically tested each drive on an Apple MacBook Pro laptop. smooth contours of the rubber 1GB of MP3 les to the disk in
A portable hard disk drive simply does not offer as much in coating allow it to drop into 33 seconds a decent result,
the way of storage as the larger 3.5-inch drives used in desktop your laptop case with ease. but bettered by the WD drive.
external hard drives. However, we feel the format wins out not The minimalist design is Freecoms Mobile Drive XXS
only in terms of portability, but also in that you dont need a simple and elegant with just is a neat and stylish drive that
separate power charger, as the drive is powered by the laptop. a single mini-USB port on the better suits those that prefer
So how much can the average external hard drive hold? Well, bottom of the drive and a tag design and portability over
a 500GB hard drive is capacious enough to store 1000 hours of with the Freecom logo and speed and features.
video, 125,000 MP3 les or even up to 227,000 10-megapixel designer Sylvain Willenz on
PORTABLE HARD DRIVES

photos. With this much data on offer, its easy to see why the side. Perfect for carrying
backing up your treasured memories to an external disk is vital. around, the drive doesnt really CAPACITY 500GB
DRIVE SPEED 5400RPM
With such high capacities now on offer, we would recommend feel as rugged as the others
CACHE 8MB
looking for an external drive that includes back-up software here, but regular travellers will CONNECTIONS USB 2.0
as standard, as well as some form of security, so keeping your prefer its compact nature. OS SUPPORT MAC OS X 10.3 OR
les safe and secure becomes a priority. While the three drives A short USB cable plugs LATER, WINDOWS XP/VISTA/7
DIMENSIONS 110 X 80 X 14MM
tested here all use the same basic 2.5-inch disk format, what into your laptop and is used WEIGHT 155G
they each deliver is wildly different, so read on and nd out to power the drive. The drive
which is the best portable hard drive for your Apple laptop. quickly self-installs itself and, RATING 7

76 WHAT LAPTOP August 2010


GROUP TEST

VERBATIM Store n Go WD My Passport Studio


PRICE 80 (inc. VAT) www.verbatim.com PRICE 130 (inc. VAT) www.wdc.com
IN BRIEF: Light and eco-friendly IN BRIEF: Flexible connectivity

T he Verbatim Store n Go
looks and acts much like
any portable hard drive. Its a
Button and the drive drops
into Sleep mode. This is a nice
touch, as it means you can
T he Western Digital (WD)
My Passport Studio is
the only drive here to solely
can be used for easy backups.
Installing the drive is quick
and easy and, once up and
standard 2.5-inch laptop drive keep the Verbatim attached to target Apple laptop users, as running on our MacBook
with a 5400rpm speed and your laptop even when running it comes with not only a USB Pro, we found the drive had
8MB cache that sits inside a on battery power and not have connection, but also a high- deposited two icons on the
tough plastic enclosure. it impact on performance. speed FireWire 800 port. Cables desktop. The rst icon offers
The drive is slightly longer When it came to testing, we for both ports are supplied in access to the drive itself, while
than the Freecom, but is found this to be a reasonably the box, so youll be able to the second opened the WD
the same weight and depth fast drive, writing our 1GB of make the most of this drive SmartWare suite of tools, such
and offers more in the way MP3 les to the disk in just with speed and ease. as WD Turbo, DriveUnlock and
of protection for the drive 36 seconds. While this is the The drive looks great with Virtual CD Manager. We found
itself. The plastic casing feels slowest result here, it is still its Apple-styled rounded the drive could write 1GB of
suitably tough, while the black fairly fast and impressive. corners and stylish silver and les to disk using FireWire in 30
glossy trim gives it a hint of The Verbatim Store n white casing, while the tough seconds. The same les using
style and sophistication. Go is available in a range of plastics securely protect the USB took 34 seconds.
There is a single mini-USB capacities up to 1TB, which 2.5-inch hard drive inside. The Western Digital My
connection on the side of the is excellent for a small drive A small LCD screen on the Passport Studio is a good-
device and the package comes of this size and weight. With drive highlights how much looking drive that works very
complete with a USB cable to its compact design and light storage space is free. At 180g, well. The capacity screen
connect it to your laptop. We weight, as well as the addition and with a depth big enough to is a nice touch, but it is the
found it self-installed to our of its eco-friendly software accommodate the FireWire 800 storage, ports and speed of
test Apple MacBook Pro in a tools, we feel this is one of the port, this is the largest drive this drive that are the real
couple of seconds and was more versatile portable drives here. While still highly portable, benets and make it worth
immediately ready to use. on the market today. if space is at a premium, this the extra outlay.
Software bundled with the may not be the device for you.
PORTABLE HARD DRIVES

Store n Go consists of Nero The drive itself is a standard


CAPACITY 500GB CAPACITY 640GB
backup, as is standard across 2.5-inch laptop disk, with a
DRIVE SPEED 5400RPM DRIVE SPEED 5400RPM
all Verbatim drives. However, CACHE 8MB
5400rpm rotation speed, so CACHE 8MB
the addition of Green Buttons CONNECTIONS USB 2.0 it doesnt stand out from CONNECTIONS FIREWIRE 800, USB 2.0
software is something new OS SUPPORT MAC OS X 10.3 OR the others on test. However, OS SUPPORT MAC OS X 10.4 OR
LATER, WINDOWS XP/VISTA/7 LATER, WINDOWS XP/VISTA/7
and offers an eco-friendly with 640GB of storage space
DIMENSIONS 117 X 81 X 16MM DIMENSIONS 124 X 83 X 19MM
approach to managing the WEIGHT 155G on offer, it offers far more in WEIGHT 180G
drive by placing an icon on terms of storage than youll
your desktop. Press this Green RATING 8 nd on the average laptop, so RATING 8

August 2010 WHAT LAPTOP 77


LOGITECH
Speaker Lapdesk N700
PRICE 70 (inc. VAT)
Working in bed or on the sofa with your
laptop on your legs can quickly become
uncomfortable, due to the hard plastics
and heat against your skin. The Speaker
Lapdesk N700 aims to counter this by
providing a cushioned barrier between you
and your laptop. Comfortable to use, a fan
is built into the device to dispel excess
heat from the base of the laptop, although

LEXAR we felt it seemed rather underpowered.


Two speakers are also built into the
Echo ZE Backup Drive (32GB) surface of the Lapdesk, which can be used
by connecting your laptop via USB. Audio
PRICE 93 (inc. VAT) is sufciently loud and of a decent quality,
Backing up your laptops essential les is but laptops larger than 15.4-inches will at
all too often forgotten until its too late, least partially cover the speakers during
which is where this tiny USB drive comes use. Volume controls and an extra USB
in. Simply plug the Lexar Echo into a free port at the side are welcome additions.
USB port and install the software, then WWW.LOGITECH.COM
choose which of your folders you want to
back up to the 32GB of storage. You can
RATING 6
select how often backups are created, as
well as the number of versions that are
kept, in case an older le is needed.
This is an excellent way of keeping
your data safe with minimal effort, as
long as your important les dont exceed
the 32GB of storage. However, be careful
NAVMII
when setting up backups as sub-folders Netbook GPS
are not included be sure to check the
results to avoid any nasty surprises. PRICE 30 (inc. VAT)
WWW.LEXAR.COM/ECHO Plug the NavMii USB dongle into any GPS-
enabled laptop or netbook, install the
RATING 7 included software and register online, and
your laptop becomes a fully working sat-
nav system. UK and ROI maps are included,
while standard sat-nav functions such as
setting up a home address and choosing
which Points of Interest (POI) are displayed
are present and correct as expected.
Routes can be tailored to avoid toll roads
and the NavMii even warns you when youre
approaching a safety camera or breaking
the speed limit. However, not being able
to mount your laptop on your vehicles
LAPTOP PERIPHERALS

dashboard greatly limits usability, so youll


have to rely on voice commands if driving
alone you can choose between male
or female voices and UK or US accents.
A handy device if youre one of the few
people that own a GPS-enabled laptop.
WWW.NAVMII.COM

RATING 6

78 WHAT LAPTOP August 2010


FIRST LOOK REVIEWS

CLOUD ENGINES
PogoPlug
PRICE 100 (inc. VAT)
The PogoPlug is a media server that
connects to your router at home and
allows you to access your les remotely
via the internet from anywhere in the
world. Simply connect it using the bundled
Ethernet cable, then register it on the
PogoPlug website and you can then log
into the site and gain immediate access to
your les from wherever you may travel.
The PogoPlug itself doesnt have any
internal storage space, so youll need to
connect the external hard drives that
PHILIPS
actually hold all of your les. The device Notebook SHM6600 Headset
has four USB ports, however, so you can
potentially command a huge amount of PRICE 20 (inc. VAT)
storage space. PogoPlug phone apps These earphones come with a microphone
are now available for iPhone, BlackBerry, built into the cord, perfect for anyone who
Android and Palm phones for even easier wishes to chat over the internet, but who
access to your data when on the move. doesnt like traditional headsets. The ear
WWW.FIREBOX.COM buds t comfortably in the ears and block
out a surprising amount of external noise.
RATING 7 Sound quality is fantastic, with punchy
audio that is especially good for rock and
dance music, thanks to deep bass levels.
The microphone is equally impressive
and far more sensitive than expected
given its size. Our test recordings clearly

BLUE picked up distant background noise,


including random chatter and ringing
Yeti USB Microphone telephones, so even mumbling users can
be clearly heard at all times. A carry pouch
PRICE 129 (inc. VAT) and spare ear buds are also included.
This professional microphone has a WWW.PHILIPS.CO.UK
noticeably large footprint, so takes up a
fair amount of desk space. It also comes
RATING 8
at quite a high price, but is a great choice
for budding bedroom musicians and
podcasters with money to spare.
Not only is it easy to set up just
connect via USB and youre ready to record
but all of the necessary controls such as
volume, gain and mute are accessible on
the side of the device.
Most importantly, the sound quality of
recordings is particularly impressive. The
multi-pattern technology courtesy of
LAPTOP PERIPHERALS

three internal microphones means that


unwanted external noise can easily be
blocked out. Alternatively, with the ick
of a switch, you and a friend can sit either
side of the Yeti to record a conversation or
a duet. A highly recommended device.
WWW.APPLE.COM/UKSTORE

RATING 9

August 2010 WHAT LAPTOP 79


d ed th e death
th e iP ad soun mini-laptop or
Has h umble
h e
knell fo
r t
evo lv ing into
book s
are net ev en bett
er?
ing
someth

80 WHAT LAPTOP August 2010


SPECIAL REPORT IS THE NETBOOK DEAD?

A
pples iPad has nally arrived in the UK, with
some computing industry analysts and
commentators already forecasting the end of
the humble netbook. But just how accurate are these
predictions? After all, lets not forget that since the launch
of the original 7-inch Asus 701 Eee PC back in December
2007, the explosive growth of the netbook category
throughout 2008 and 2009 took many by surprise, as Asus
original (and very simple) idea, to introduce a low-cost laptop
for basic web-browsing, was initially dismissed as little more
than a passing fad by a number of major computing analyst
rms, such as Gartner and IDC.
Apples chief operating ofcer Tim Cook stoked the res of
the debate recently by suggesting that he was unable to think
of a single thing a netbook does well, while expressing his
delight at the initial post-launch US sales of Apples new iPad.
The Cupertino-based computing giant is clearly leading the
way in this new and emergent category, with lots of other
manufacturers including the likes of Asus, Dell, HP, MSI, Lenovo,
ViewSonic and others all nalising their own plans to release
slate-style PCs later this year. Though while it is clearly no mean
feat that Apple has already sold over two million iPads since its
launch, does the successful launch of this single (and singular)
device really spell the end of the netbook era?

August 2010 WHAT LAPTOP 81


THE NETBOOK EXPLOSION For an idea of just how important this new netbook
Asus is already in the top three of netbook and category was to Asus, you only have to look at the
notebook manufacturers in EMEA [Europe, Middle East companys UK sales gures throughout this period. In
and Africa], and for netbooks we are number one in the UK alone, Asus sold about 75,000 notebooks and
France and Germany, Asus UKs marketing manager netbooks in 2007 and then around half a million
John Swatton informs us. Much of this recent success throughout 2008. This tremendous and rapid growth
is down to the companys forward-thinking chairman was almost entirely down to the success of the Eee
(and inventor of the Eee PC), Johnny Shih. PC. The netbook category had arrived with a bang.
The rst Back in 2007, Shih came up with the idea of having a

Eee PC low-cost, low-power portable computer that could be WHATS IN A NAME?


used to full a number of basic computing tasks, such Around March 2008, Intel made a move to identify this
was as surng the internet, replying to email and chatting new classication it called netbook. It attempted to

shown at over Skype. However, at the time he didnt have the


low power consumption processor he needed, so he
compartmentalise the netbook as a machine with a
screen size of a maximum 10.1-inches and as
the BETT approached Intel and found out that they had a similar something that couldnt do video and a bunch of other

show idea and had been working on the processor which


was to become the Atom.
things, recalls Bob Morris, director of mobile
computing at Cambridge-based mobile processor
in early Working together, Intel and Asus came up with the specialists ARM.

2008 the concept of the original 701 Eee PC, rst shown off at
Computex 2007. And to this day, the Asus chairman is
Intel wanted to bracket off this new category,
because it had its other product families. Simply put,
response one of the only directors outside of Intel that has the chip maker didnt want to be seen to devalue its

from access to the chip manufacturers secret research


and development labs.
higher-powered, costlier processors. This is how the
Intel Atom-based netbook emerged as a platform.
schools The original 701 Eee PC moved from a concept to a Intel has now eased its original restrictions on the

and mass-produced product within three months, which


was ground-breaking for that type of device, notes
screen size of netbooks and on the dual-core Atom
processor, so we expect to see super-thin netbooks
teachers Swatton. The rst Eee PC was shown at the BETT with larger (and quite possibly dual) screens emerging

was (British Educational Training and Technology Show) in


early 2008 and the response from schools and
in the near future. Add into the mix nVidias latest Ion
2 technology and low-power, exible and e-ink-capable
fantastic teachers was fantastic. screens from the likes of Pixel Qi and it is easy to see

Above: Asus Eee PC kickstarted the


modern netbook market in 2007
Below: Asus is predicting sales of
16 to 18 million Eee PCs in 2010

82 WHAT LAPTOP August 2010


SPECIAL REPORT IS THE NETBOOK DEAD?

how the netbooks graphics capabilities will Despite the protestations of Apple and others, a
IDC
differentiate it from the iPad. number of leading analysts still forecast a continuing predicts
So while some are already calling time on the
category, it comes as no surprise that Asus is still
healthy growth in the netbook market for 2010. Market
research company iSuppli recently predicted that
sales for
strongly supporting the netbook in 2010 (and beyond). sales of netbooks and CULV (Consumer Ultra-Low media
The Taiwanese company recently raised its full-year
shipment forecast for laptops and Eee PCs in 2010
Voltage) laptops will do particularly well this year, with
the rm expecting worldwide netbook shipments to
tablets
from 16 to 18 million, up 50 per cent over last year. grow by 30 per cent to 34.5 million units in 2010, and will be
Asus is also going to be launching its own Eee Pad
tablet-type devices later this year, but it is keen to
to continue to steadily grow over the next four years
to reach 58.3 million units in 2014.
six million
stress that these are not being designed to replace Elsewhere, Gartner is taking a slightly different units in
the netbook, because it recognises that people are
using these technologies in increasingly different ways.
position to iSuppli, noting that, while netbook sales are
still rising, there is now a attening out occurring.
2010
What Apple is very good at from the iPhone and You have considerably different predictions for
iPod touch through to the iPad is making products future netbook sales. While there are analysts at AVI
that are very intuitive, and it has done a very good job Securities predicting sales in excess of 90
of providing an enjoyable user experience, says Asus million for 2011, Gartners predictions are still
Swatton. And Asus would never say that the netbook at 53 million, ARMs Morris points out.
is better than the iPad for any specic reason, In comparison, IDCs latest gures on
because we believe that they are used by two very predicted sales for media tablets are six million
different types of user. units in 2010 (four million iPads and two million
Swatton claims that netbooks are now widely used non-Apple devices) and by 2011 that gure is
for creating content and doing lots of things that you expected to rise to 21 million.
cannot do on an iPad, such as using Skype to chat to ARM is pretty bullish on media tablets,
your friends and family. But then I dont think an iPad is adds Morris. I think that it is going to full
designed for that, he adds. I think it is designed for a need that people have, to be able to
consuming content in a different way. pick up a device and enjoy
their content and the
internet on the go,
as well as a lot of
THE THREE AGES OF COMPUTING
While many manufacturers, analysts and consumers are
Research suggests
interested in the unique extra functionality and usability
that uptake of the
iPad will be much of the Apple iPad or new tablet PC devices, there are still
slower than that many that see these new devices as expensive gadgets.
of the iPhone
Taking the long view, the shift towards netbooks and
tablet PCs is part of a larger shift from the second era of
computing (the PC era) to the third era of computing (the
Cloud computing era), in the words of ARMs Morris, who
estimates that we are around three years into an
eight-year change, which is why we are going to see a lot
of churn and differentiation going on.
This is why we are in the midst of lots of exciting new
innovations, yet why it is also endishly hard to try to
predict even near-future trends in the marketplace. The
standard rules no longer apply. Analysts and media pundits
can no longer just look in their rear-view mirrors to see how
and where the laptop market changed in the past and then
make predictions based on that.
A key part of the puzzle is also Googles forthcoming
Chrome OS, which in Morris opinion will give a good kicker
as to where this thing could go, but thats not going to hit
yet for around another year. I think there could really be an
uptake on small netbook or clamshell-style laptops
following the launch of Chrome OS.
Googles longer-term strategy is to develop a system for
you to have access to your ofce documents and all of your
data that is held in the cloud (ie on remote servers as
opposed to your laptops hard drive).

August 2010 WHAT LAPTOP 83


other things in addition to that.
Whichever analysts you choose to believe (and why),
what does seem clear is that the explosive growth
experienced in the netbook market during 2008 and
the rst half of 2009 is beginning to stabilise.
Michal Lisiecki, AMDs product marketing manager
for EMEA, observes that shipments of netbooks over
the past nine months accounted for approximately 20
per cent of the total portable device market,
suggesting that we have now reached saturation
point, before adding that the netbook market has
now started to follow the same market trends and
seasonal uctuations as the total portable market.
Dells Brian Pitstick, general manager for ultra mobile
devices (UMDs), also foresees the netbook market
maturing and stabilising over the coming year; yet he
still predicts reasonable growth rates, quoting Q1
2010 data from NPD in the US, which still showed the
netbook market growing at almost twice the rate of
laptops year on year, with netbooks growing 47 per
cent versus laptops at 28 per cent.

CONCLUSION
Providing manufacturers can continue to refresh
netbooks with appealing new designs and cutting-
NVIDIA BOOSTS NETBOOK edge screen, processor and graphics technology, then
GRAPHICS AND GAMING
If were talking about the possible death of the netbook as a category,
then you get into the ner points of category denition, argues Bea
Longworth, senior corporate communications manager at nVidia. Right
now it seems like manufacturers are throwing a lot of different types
of things out into the market and seeing what sticks. Ultimately, of
course, it will be up to the market to decide which of these categories
survive and which turn out to be a bit of a ash in the pan.
nVidia continues to support cutting-edge netbook graphics
technologies and anticipates continuing growth in the market, and is
developing its Ion product in partnership with various manufacturers to
enable it to squeeze the most from the latest small-screen devices. So
the kinds of stuff that people werent originally getting out of netbooks
high-quality graphics, video, gaming, 3D applications are now in the mix.
It was interesting that Apple was talking about the idea of people
replacing their netbooks with an iPad, because I dont think that there will
be many people that will agree that a tablet-type device will replace the
functionality that you would use a netbook for, says Longworth. nVidia
certainly sees tablets as being a huge trend. Our CEO recently commented
on our commitment to Googles latest third generation of its Android
platform and there are some genuinely interesting devices based on that
platform coming out later in 2010.
However, I think the growth of the emergent tablet market is going to be
content-driven. We dont necessarily know what the killer app is for tablets
yet. The tablet is also all about the screen and the touch interface, which is
not necessarily something that lends itself to productivity applications.
From nVidias perspective, for many technology consumers, the idea of a
small, lightweight, portable device with a good battery life that allows you
to work on your productivity applications word processing, email and so on
on the go, and which also features some good multimedia and internet
functionality, is kind of a no-brainer.
Perhaps the netbook name is the real issue here. Maybe the name will go
away. But the device category is here to stay, concludes Longworth.

84 WHAT LAPTOP August 2010


SPECIAL REPORT IS THE NETBOOK DEAD?

the netbook is clearly here to stay. Brad Hagan, mobile


client product marketing manager for Fujitsu UK &
Ireland, stresses that the key is still being able to
maintain the lower entry-level price that consumers
are willing to pay.
Netbooks have evolved from simple low-cost
computing devices with limited functionality to
powerful all-round portable computers that can
provide rich, high-denition multimedia experiences,
packing in lots of extra features such as GPS receivers
and TV tuners.
Some developers are now keen to see what new
types of hybrid devices that blur the lines between
tablet and netbook will allow them to do. Ed Lea, chief
technology ofcer at application developer Grapple
Mobile, hopes that consumers will soon start seeing
devices with colour e-ink touchscreens that are as
interactive as tablets but as familiar as netbooks.
Anybody interested in an affordable and rugged
netbook-tablet hybrid featuring the option to switch
to a colour e-ink screen that is as easy on the eye as a
traditional paperback or newspaper?
The netbook isnt dead. Its just rapidly morphing
into something better.

Netbooks have evolved


from simple, low-cost
computing devices to
powerful, all-round
portable computers

MASS MARKET BUYERS SLOW


ON THE IPAD UPTAKE
While netbooks have clearly opened the door for
tablet PC devices, such as the Apple iPad and the
forthcoming Asus Eee Pad, a recent qualitative market
research study in the UK suggests that mass market adoption of
the iPad is going to take quite a few years.
Mike Stevens, director of Simpson Carpenters
Telecommunications Research Team, ran the research based on four
qualitative groups of typical British consumers with iPads.
His verdict? The iPad is perceived as a very cool device by most, but
its uptake is going to be far slower than that of the iPhone over the
past two years.
A number of Stevens interviewees liken the iPad to haute
couture, in that while they appreciate its design, they cannot yet
justify spending money on it due to its perceived functionality value
when compared with a far cheaper netbook.
Following his research, Stevens concluded: When the iPhone was
launched, it revolutionised an existing category that people understood.
The iPad is at the vanguard of a new category that sits between the
computer and the phone so its not surprising that many consumers
struggle to see how it could t in their lives.
Niche groups with specic emotional or functional needs love it, but
right now there isnt a compelling incentive to get mainstream
consumers to buy it. Of course, this may change once they see how early
adopters use it but in our view the iPad will take longer to achieve the
sales growth and wider market impact of the iPhone.

August 2010 WHAT LAPTOP 85


86 WHAT LAPTOP August 2010
SPECIAL REPORT must-have free applications

MUST-HAVE
FREE
APPLICATIONS
sometimes free really does mean free. We take a look at
some useful applications that wont cost you a penny

T
he huge growth of shareware, freeware and open
source software over the past few years, plus the
rise of home broadband connections, means you
can now grab yourself a whole lot of useful applications
from the internet without having to dip into your wallet.
this is why we decided to put together a list of some of
our favourite free applications, including everything from
anti-virus packages to advanced image editing software.
naturally there are a huge number of free applications
available on the web and not everyone will agree with
every application in our list, but we think there are many
gems here that most people will nd really useful.

Office applicatiOns
the chances are that your new laptop came with a
version of microsoft Works or ofce, but usually these
are time-limited demos and once the demo period runs
out youre looking at quite a hefty price to upgrade to the
full version. a good alternative is openofce. its a
comprehensive suite of ofce applications, including a
word processor and spreadsheet, database and
presentation software. Whats more, it will open and save
les created in microsoft ofce formats, so you still retain
compatibility with microsofts products. You can download
the software from download.openofce.org/index.html.

August 2010 WHAT LAPTOP 87


fic e of fe rs a
Ab ove: Op en Of
mp re he ns ive su ite of
co
ew ar e of fic e ap pli ca tio ns
fre
ha s nu me ro us
To p lef t: Fir ef ox
giv ing ad de d
ad d- on s
th e br ow se r
fu nc tio na lit y to
er s ca n ma ke
Le ft: Sk yp e us
he r fo r fre e
ca lls to ea ch ot

pDf reaDer
pretty much every piece of kit you buy now comes
as well as taking over the world of search and
webmail, Google is now trying to dominate the world
a good,
with a cD containing the instruction manual as a pDf of web browsers too with chrome. this browser has easy-to-use
le. of course, you can open these les using adobes been built for speed and aims to load and render pages
free reader application, but its a rather cumbersome faster than any other browser out there. it also has alternative
package and has many features youll never use. a some interesting security features to help keep your to internet
good free alternative is the foxit reader. it loads faster laptop safe on the web. there is a link to download
and takes up very little space on your hard drive. You chrome from the main Google search page or explorer
can grab it from www.foxitsoftware.com/pdf/reader. alternatively go to www.google.com/chrome.
is open
teXt eDiting cOmmunicating source
if you nd the notepad program built into Windows is a the internet is not just about visiting websites, its also
bit too light on features, but you dont want to always about communicating with others. While there are
mozilla
have to load up your full word processor to quickly plenty of programs you can use to make voice calls firefox
read text les or make simple edits to documents, over the internet, skype is by far the most popular.
then you might want to check out notepad++. its a skype users can make calls to each other for free, and
small, but perfectly formed text editor that lets you it also allows calls to normal landline and mobile
work on multiple documents at the same time via its telephone numbers. naturally the company charges for
useful tabbed interface. You can download it free from this service, but the call charges are much lower than
notepad-plus.sourceforge.net/uk/site.htm. traditional telephone charges, especially when youre
using it to make overseas calls. skype can also act as
internet BrOWsing an instant messaging client and even lets you make
While internet explorer has improved over the past video calls too. You can register and download the
couple of years, many people still nd it a bit software at www.skype.com/intl/en-us/get-skype.
cumbersome and every now and again its struck down instant messaging services allow you to have text
by security issues. a good, easy-to-use alternative is chats with friends and family in real time. its much
mozilla firefox. its an open source application with a more immediate than using emails, as you dont have
tabbed interface, so you can have multiple sites open to wait around for your messages to be delivered and
at the same time and quickly jump between them. then for your friend to reply. however, the problem
another benet is the number of add-ons you can with instant messaging is that there are lots of
download to add extra features. You can get firefox different services and most of them arent compatible
from www.mozilla-europe.org/en/refox. with each other. there are a number of programs that

88 WHAT LAPTOP August 2010


SPECIAL REPORT must-have free applications

VIdEO PLAybACk
Windows media player can be used to play a broad
range of video les. However, there are still many le
types that it cannot play by default, including popular
formats like DivX, Xvid and matroska (mkV). However, it
can be made compatible with these le formats if you
install the right codec pack. a codec is a piece of code
that gives Windows the ability to compress and
decompress a specic type of video le. installing lots
of different codecs can lead to compatibility problems,
so its best to opt for a single pack that adds support
for lots of different le types in one go.
probably the best codec pack around at the moment
is called the combined community codec pack, or cccp
for short. By installing this single codec pack, Windows
Top: CCC P is one
of the best media player will suddenly be able to deal with a whole
code c pack s host of new video formats including Xvid and mkV.
arou nd at the
mom ent You can download the software by heading over to
Left : www.cccp-project.net and selecting Download cccp
digs by can
from the menu.
solv e insta nt
mes sagi ng However, many people nd Windows media player to
com pati bilit y be overkill when used solely for video playback.
prob lems
Because the software includes a media library as well
as audio playback and media indexing features, it can
be a bit slow to start up. many people instead prefer to
use a more lightweight player thats designed
specically for playing video.
the two most popular choices are media player
allow you to get around this problem by integrating classic Home cinema and Vlc media player. media
different services into a single client. pidgin and player classic Home cinema looks a lot like the old
trillium are popular options, but we think the best is media player that was included in Windows 3.1, but
Digsby, thanks to its cute interface and useful social supports many more video le types, including Xvid and
networking features. Download it at www.digsby.com. mkV. Windows media player classic Home cinema is
actually included in the cccp installer, so if youre
file cOmpressiOn installing cccp theres no need to download it
While Windows now has unzip capabilities built right separately. However, it can also be downloaded from
into the operating system, youre likely to come across http://mpc-hc.sourceforge.net.
more le compression formats on the internet than Vlc media player looks a lot like Windows media
merely that used by Zip les. for example, the rar le player classic and performs in much the same way. its
format is often used for compressing multimedia les, fast to start up and plays a large range of video le
such as movies and audio les, as it has better formats. However, its also renowned for being able to
compression capabilities for these types of les. this play damaged or partially downloaded videos. get it
is where 7-zip comes in handy. it supports rar and a from www.videolan.org/vlc/download-windows.html.
range of other formats, including cab, GZip, tar, arj.
the software is open source and has an easy to use
interface that makes unpacking les a breeze. its
available for both 32 and 64-bit versions of Windows
from www.7-zip.org/download.html.

Backing up
most of us dont back up our les often enough, but
seeing as were now storing more photos, video and
music les on our laptops than ever before, backing up
our hard drives is more important than ever. Karens
replicator aims to make the whole process of backing
up your hard drive faster and easier. it lets you dictate
exactly what you want to copy over to an external
drive, so you can skip over small and unimportant
les. it also lets you run backups in the background so
you can get on with your work while les are being

August 2010 WHAT LAPTOP 89


InSTALL EVERyTHIng
In OnE gO
Hopefully there are quite a few applications in our
list that you fancy trying out on your computer. You
can, of course, download applications individually, but
this can be quite time-consuming as you have to click
through lots of end-user licence agreements and
various set-up screens. However, a clever website
called www.ninite.com can take a lot of the hassle out
of installing multiple applications in one go. all you
have to do is visit the site, tick on the boxes for the
applications that you want to install. the site will not
only create a single installer, but also make sure that
the installer doesnt included any unwanted browser
To p: Ins ta ll
toolbars that are sometimes included with freeware
mu lti ple
applications. not all the applications listed here are ap pli ca tio ns
included on the site, but a surprising number of them wi th ni nit e

are, and as ninite is such a time-saver, its denitely Le ft: Pa int


worth checking out. is an ide al
im ag e
ed ito r fo r
be gin ne rs

Le ft: ka re ns
s
Re pli ca to r ta ke
of
th e ha ss le ou t
ba ck ing up
it may
using a free anti-virus solution instead. there are a few
have a
copied. You can download the application from of these available, including microsofts security rather
www.karenware.com/powertools/ptreplicator.asp. essentials and the free version of avG, but perhaps
the best available at the moment is avast!. its easy to
alarming
spring cleaning use and offers great anti-virus protection. You can name,
if your laptop is a couple of years old, its highly likely
that there are les dotted around on your hard drive
grab the software from www.avast.com/en-gb/
free-antivirus-download.
but gimp
that are no longer being used by any applications. is a very
there are also probably lots of entries in the Windows
registry left there by programs that have long ago
image eDiting
todays digital cameras allow you to take hundreds of
advanced
been uninstalled. ccleaner is a small application that photos at a time, but even then the results sometimes image
can hunt around on your drive to sh out these unused
les and errant registry entries and get rid of them to
need a bit of tweaking. it may have a rather alarming
name, but Gimp is actually a very advanced image
editing
help free up space and speed up your computer. the editing program that offers features to rivals those program
software is available for download from www.piriform. that youll nd in expensive image manipulation
com/ccleaner/download. programs, such as adobes photoshop. its great for
digitally retouching your photos, as it includes
anti-Virus advanced tools like colour correction and a huge range
these days most new laptops come pre-installed with of lters and effects. Gimp also allows you to draw
a trial version of anti-virus software from big-name freehand if you feel the need. the Windows version is
brands like mcafee, norton and trend. once the trial available from http://gimp-win.sourceforge.net.
nishes you need to pay a yearly fee to receive virus Gimp is a great piece of software, but it can be a bit
denition le updates. however, you can save yourself overwhelming if you havent used many image editing
lots of money by uninstalling these programs and applications before. a better option for less

90 WHAT LAPTOP August 2010


SPECIAL REPORT must-have free applications

ur de sk to p
Ab ove: Lic k yo
Fe nc es
int o sh ap e wi th
10 00 s of
To p Le ft: St re am
sic al tra ck s wi th Sp ot ify
mu
a us ef ul mu sic
Le ft: iTu ne s is
er ev en if yo u do nt
or ga nis
Ap ple pla ye r
ha ve an

experienced users is paint.net. the software was was by invitation only. once it ofcially launched, the
originally developed as a replacement for the paint
program built into Windows and was supported by
company withdrew the free offering, so if you hadnt
got in quickly you were left with just the paying
Youll
microsoft, but its now expanded far beyond that initial version. however, recently spotify has re-launched its be hard
remit. it offers a powerful range of features, including
support for layers and numerous effects, but presents
free service which is now called spotify open. Youre
limited to 20 hours of music listening a month, but for
pushed
them in an easy-to-understand interface. Download many people that will be more than enough. as a to nd an
the software from www.getpaint.net/features.html. result, we still think its well worth downloading from
unlike Gimp and paint.net, irfanviews image www.spotify.com/uk/get-spotify/open. image le
manipulation tools are relatively basic. the software is if youve got an iphone or ipod, then you will already on the
designed to be used primarily as an image viewer and have used apples itunes software. however, itunes is
picture le converter instead. in fact you would be worth downloading even if you dont own one of internet
hard pushed to nd an image le on the internet that
you cant open and view with irfanview and then
apples music players and have no intention of buying
music from its online store. the reason is simple:
that you
convert to another format. You can grab it from itunes provides a far more intuitive way to organise cant
www.irfanview.com. and access your music than that offered by Windows
media player. to download itunes just head over to
open and
auDiO eDiting www.apple.com/itunes. view with
audacity is an open source audio editing program finally, once youve got your music sorted you might
thats available for a number of operating systems, want to get your desktop into shape. fences is a great irfanView
including Windows. Despite its straightforward user little add-on for Windows that allows you to segment
interface, audacity has quite advanced audio editing your desktop into different organised areas.
tools and includes a number of useful built-in effects essentially its a way of gathering together related
as standard. audacity can be used for a wide range of applications, shortcuts, les and folders into specic
tasks from converting an mp3 le into a ringtone for groups. the free version is available at www.stardock.
your phone to putting together a podcast. Download it com/products/fences.
from http://audacity.sourceforge.net. While everybody has their favourite applications and
you may not agree with some of those weve chosen
plaYing music here, were sure weve brought some new ones to your
You probably already know that spotify is a music attention. also, because all the applications listed
service that lets you stream a massive library of songs here are free, theres no reason not to give them a go
across the internet to your laptop. spotify started as a on your laptop, as you can uninstall them if you dont
free service, but it was tricky to get on to, as access like them and you may nd a new favourite.

August 2010 WHAT LAPTOP 91


LAPTOP
DOCTOR
When mobile maladies and portable pains strike, the
Laptop Doctor is here with the perfect prescription

QUICK TIP
Gain greater control
WIndows User Account Control (UAC)
Settings are great in theory, as they
aim to protect you from malware
threats, but the frequent notications
can prove intrusive. To access and ne
tune UAC Settings, click the Start
button and type Change User Account
Control Settings and click Enter.

How can I use speech recognition in Windows?


While speech recognition has yet to gain popular appeal, there are microphone. Although many laptops have a built-in microphone
many cases where being able to give vocal commands to your next to the webcam in the lid, best results will be achieved with a
laptop are invaluable, particularly for those who suffer from RSI or dedicated headset. Speech recognition software also needs to be
other conditions. Speech recognition has improved markedly in trained to recognise your voice and pronunciation. While this is a
Windows 7, but its still not perfect. The main issue is that unlike slightly time-consuming process, the longer you spend on it, the
the human ear, a microphone cannot discriminate between better the speech recognition will be. Once trained, you can use
sounds and so can only be used in relatively quiet environments. speech recognition to perform tasks such as launching
Before you use speech recognition, you will of course need a applications, moving the mouse and, of course, dictating text.

How to use speech recognition in Windows 7


Set up your laptop to recognise your voice and vocal commands

Step 1: Step 2: Step 3:


To start speech recognition for the rst Adjust the level of your microphone to Once set up, you should train the speech
time, browse to Start > All Programs > ensure that the speech recognition can recognition to understand your voice. To do
Accessories > Ease of Access > Windows hear you clearly. Read out the sentence this, browse to Control Panel > Ease of
Speech Recognition, click Next and select and watch the level meter to ensure that Access > Speech Recognition > Train Your
the type of microphone you will be using. you get just the right volume levels. Computer to Better Understand You.

92 WHAT LAPTOP August 2010


LAPTOP DOCTOR

We love to hear from our readers. If you need help with a particular problem or simply need a little
NEED buying advice, get in touch with the experts. Heres how: email whatlaptop@futurenet.co.uk or post

HELP? to What Laptop, Future Publishing Ltd, 2 Balcombe Street, London, NW1 6NW. Please remember to
include your full contact details in all correspondence. Letters and emails may be edited for space.

How can I stop my How can I diagnose error messages on my laptop?


Despite Windows becoming more reliable all that you will see. There is a
laptop overheating? with each iteration, applications will still troubleshooting section built into Windows
Laptops with multi-core processors and crash occasionally. Windows 7 has a more 7 where you can nd solutions to common
high-end graphics cards can produce a advanced crash diagnostic facility, and will problems. Simply type Action Center (note
great deal of heat and, due to the size of often send a report to Microsoft and the spelling) into the Start search box.
a laptop chassis, its often difcult to display a reason for the crash. However, If you fancy a bit of self-diagnosis, there
remove this heat quickly. This can cause sometimes no report is displayed or, in are a couple of tools you can employ to
problems if the ability to dispel this heat some cases, an obscure error message is extract information from your laptop. The
is compromised if the fan ducts are Windows Error Code Lookup tool, also
being obstructed or insufcient airow known as ErrMsg, is a standalone
is allowed around the chassis. The application that you can download from
problem is generally exacerbated when www.bit.ly/7bLyoe. Simply enter the Error
the laptop is placed on a soft surface, code into the box and press the Error Msg
such as a lap, duvet or cushion. button and the code denition will be
If your laptop runs very hot, there is a displayed. Windows 7 Crash Reporter
big risk of damaging essential internal (www.bit.ly/cnYi1L) enables you to view
components beyond repair, so you Windows Error Reporting Files (WER les)
should always try to use your laptop The Windows Action Center can easily help to
and this information can then be used with
while it is sat on a hard surface, such as diagnose problems that crash your software ErrMsg to diagnose the issue.
a desk, so that air can get under the
laptop and into the intake vents. If the
exhaust fan expels air downwards, then How can I check the destination of a shortened URL?
be sure that the hot air can escape. If
you use your laptop while sat on a sofa,
then you may nd that some sort of
tray that doesnt conduct as much heat
as your lap will provide a stable platform
on which to rest the laptop.
Alternatively, you can invest in a
laptop cooler, which is a laptop stand
with built-in fans that blow cool air on to
the underside of your laptop. These can
be found on sites such as www.amazon.
co.uk. Turning down the graphics
settings in games will also reduce the
load on your graphics chip, although this
will reduce the graphics quality, so you Online services such as Unity enable you to nd out the destination of purposely shortened URLs,
will need to nd a comfortable balance. which is ideal for ensuring you dont end up with any unpleasant surprises when browsing the web
Shortened URL services, such as tinyurl. Chrome browser that will reveal any
com, bit.ly and so on, work by creating a short-link destinations. You can download
unique, shortened URL for a lengthy web it from www.tinyurl.com/y55tloq. For links
address which then redirects any visitors to sent to you in emails, or that you read in
the original address. However, while this is magazine trouble-shooting pages such as
useful for compressing lengthy URLs, many this one, type the URL into the box at
people abuse these services to disguise the www.real-url.org/index.php to be shown
destination, which may be a shock site, or the destination. An alternative site that
contain malicious content. does the same thing is www.untiny.com.
Thankfully, there are several services In short, always be careful about clicking
A dedicated laptop cooler can protect your that will unmask these short URLs for you. on shortened URLS, especially if you dont
machine, while making it easier to type on
View Thru is an extension for Googles know or trust the source.

Do you want to reinstall Windows on your laptop? Turn over to nd out how

August 2010 WHAT LAPTOP 93


HOW TO...
Reinstall Windows
Get that factory-fresh feeling by giving your laptop the ultimate spring clean

T
he longer you use a laptop, the
slower it gets, due to amount of the
software applications and data
installed on it, as well as fragmentation in
the ling system. Windows can become
very bloated over time and while its
possible to do some spring cleaning, in
many cases a clean start is often best.
There are also other reasons why you
may want to reinstall Windows, such as
after a virus infection, if the system has
become unstable, or you wish to upgrade
the hard drive. Whatever the reason,
although reinstalling Windows is a major
undertaking, it neednt be a difcult task.

Backup is key
Before you start the process you rst need
to back up your data to a safe location. For
this you will either need to use recordable
CDs or DVDs and your laptops optical drive,
or an external hard drive. Many les and
folders can be backed up either manually or
using back-up software, such as SyncBack
(www.2brightsparks.com). The default
Windows Backup program, found at Start >
System Tools > Accessories has limited
functionality, so we feel that third-party
applications generally do a better job.
For Mozilla applications (Firefox,
Thunderbird, Sunbird), MozBackup is an
excellent way to back up your browser
bookmarks, passwords and so on, as well as

Free software Essential applications for use with this tutorial


1 2 3

SyncBack Freeware MozBackup PC Decrapier


An easy-to-use tool for quickly Keep your essential data safe Remove all unwanted programs
backing up and restoring your les when using Mozilla applications that came with your new laptop
www.2brightsparks.com mozbackup.jasnapaka.com www.pcdecrapier.com

94 WHAT LAPTOP August 2010


HOW TO...Reinstall Windows

3 steps to backing up emails in Microsoft Outlook


Keep a copy of valuable emails by backing them up to a safe and secure location

Step 1: Step 2: Step 3:


Choose export format Select what to back up Choose destination
With Outlook open, go to the File menu You will now need to select which Choose where to save the backup.
and choose the Import and Export folders to back up. You can either Change the path away from the default
option. A new window will appear which click on the top-level (mailbox) to back or you will nd it difcult to locate. If
will give you the choice of import and up all les and folders, or select backing up over an existing le, choose
export formats. Choose to export to a individual folders by control-clicking whether to keep or replace duplicates.
le, click next and then choose each in turn. Be sure to tick the option Once nished, copy the .PST le to a
Personal Folder File (.pst). to include subfolders if necessary. CD/DVD or other back-up media.

your email folders and account settings. Windows. The most common is to restore a that lack many of the more advanced
You can download it from mozbackup. factory image of your laptops hard drive (ie features, and some hardware may not have
jasnapaka.com/download.php. If you use return it to the state in which you bought it). had drivers installed at all. Remember that
Windows Mail, then you can use the File The second is to use a Windows Install CD or you downloaded all those new drivers and
menu and choose to Export your messages DVD, although this is much less common, stored them on your external drive? Now
and Windows contacts. Outlook works in a unless you bought a new version of its time to plug in that drive and start
slightly different way in that you need to Windows for your laptop. A restore image installing the updated drivers.
back up your emails to a PST le, which you may be on a CD, DVD or on a separate,
then need to copy to a CD or removable hard restore partition. Either way, you dont need Updating
drive see tinyurl.com/2wdomxj for details. to delete the data on your hard drive, as the As this is a fresh install of Windows, it will
restore process will do this for you. If you be lacking all the latest service patches and
Updated drivers have a restore partition, you will usually see updates needed to make sure your system
Depending on your laptop manufacturer, a message when you start your laptop is as secure as possible. While updates will
you may have been supplied with a driver asking you to press a key to restore. For trickle down eventually, at this stage you
disk, or the drivers may be included in an restore disks and Windows install disks, you need to force the process, so that your
image of your original Windows installation, will need to set your laptop BIOS to boot system is protected as soon as possible.
which can be restored. If your laptop is from the CD/DVD drive, if it does not do so Click on the Start button, select All
more than a few years old though, its already. To do this you will need to press a Programs and choose Windows Update.
usually worth looking for updated drivers. key (usually F1 or F2) when starting up.
The rst port of call for new drivers should Restoring/reinstalling is usually a pretty Restore data
be your manufacturers website. simple matter, just follow the instructions. You can now reinstall your most used
Alternatively, you may need to go to the applications and your data. For Outlook and
support site of each driver manufacturer, Install drivers Windows Mail, use the File Import function
such as Intel, ATi, nVidia and so on. Dont Once you have a new installation of to restore your Email and contents from
forget to save any updated drivers on to an Windows back on your hard drive, you need your backups, or use MozBack to restore
external device once downloaded. to perform a few additional tasks before your proles in Firefox and Thunderbird.
you restore your data. While Windows may Windows backup can be used to restore
Reinstalling have installed some drivers for your individual les, folders or the entire backup,
There are generally two ways to reinstall hardware, these will usually be generic ones so just restore what you need.

August 2010 WHAT LAPTOP 95


All games
tested on an
MSI GT74C
www. microanvika.com

Your laptop isnt just for work, its also for the latest in gaming

Alpha Protocol
Developed by the team at Obsidian Entertainment, the company which grew out
of Black Isle Studios, the creators of the legendary Fallout franchise, Alpha
Protocol is a spy action RPG (a rare thing) which ticks most of the boxes, but
somehow doesnt quite come together as a completely cohesive package.
A major cornerstone of any role-playing game is the plot, so unfortunately
Alpha Protocols slightly unimaginative story means youll be trawling through
hours of dialogue, which you guide by selecting options in a mechanic that
borrows heavily from Mass Effect, begging to get to the next bit of action.
Without giving too much away, the story could never be described as boring,
but theres very little new or particularly exciting here and the betrayed by
his government, determined to nd the truth plot seems a little stale.
The gameplay falls some way short here as well. The cover system owes a
lot to the Gears of War franchise, yet isnt nearly as intuitive or fun and the
weapons on offer arent particularly exciting pistols, Uzis and shotguns are
the staple here. Level design is very linear and, despite this being an RPG,
theres very little exploring to do a bit of an omission in this genre.
The game doesnt fare much better graphically and, although character
faces are surprisingly good, the levels dont stand out much. On the plus side,
the voice acting is generally very good. As mentioned above, you get to guide
the dialogue by selecting from various types of response, ranging from suave
to professional. The former is often hilarious and watching your character
crack on to various females throughout the game is very entertaining.
Alpha Protocol is very much a mixed bag. Maybe our expectations were
articially inated because of Obsidians proud history, but the game never
manages to reach the peaks of past projects. Having said that, neither does it
ever crumble dramatically and those looking for a title to tide them over until
Fallout: New Vegas is released are sure to be entertained enough.

PRICE 30 (inc VAT) GPU CLASS 2 RATING 6 URL tinyurl.com/3a59jmx

96 WHAT LAPTOP August 2010


AFTER HOURS

Tom Clancys Splinter Cell:


Conviction
Its hard to believe the Tom Clancys Splinter Cell franchise
is already eight years old. First released in 2002 to huge
critical acclaim, the series breathed new life into the
stealth/action genre and created a legend in Sam Fisher,
the hero and main protagonist of each of the games.
Although the subsequent games have been considered
a success, Ubisoft clearly decided a complete refresh was
necessary for the fth instalment and Tom Clancys
Splinter Cell: Conviction is the excellent result.
The major changes revolve around the gameplay.
Previous Splinter Cell titles focused on a stealth approach
which regularly discouraged players from engaging the
enemy, instead encouraging you to watch your light
meter, stay in the shadows and keep out of trouble.
Conviction is somewhat different. True, stealth still
plays a big part in the overall game, but here its all
about manoeuvring into a position which will
let you annihilate as many enemies in a series
of lethal moves as possible. An excellent and,
frankly, brutal execution system lets you do this with ease
(maybe a little too easy for the pros), with graphic cut
scenes for each one.
While hardcore Splinter Cell fans have expressed their
concern at what they claim to be a dumbing-down of the
series, we found it to be so much fun and such a great
combination of stealth and hard, uncompromising action
that we certainly have no such complaints.
Graphically the game looks good, but it is not the best
weve seen. Character models are a little boxy, while the
whole game almost seems a little blurred during play.
The storyline which sees Sam searching for answers
about his daughters death is engrossing, but has the
good sense to stick largely in the background, letting the
business of viciously killing enemies take centre stage
and rightly so, as its great fun throughout.
This is an excellent game which shifts the focus of the
series towards the action-end of the stealth spectrum.
For fans of any genre, this is a must.

PRICE 40 (inc VAT) GPU CLASS 2


RATING 9 URL www.splintercell.com

How do your graphics rate? Can your graphics card handle the latest laptop games?*
CLASS 1 capable of handling CLASS 2 mainstream card CLASS 3 integrated chipsets CLASS 4 older integrated
any game available at a good that will handle most games, fast enough to handle entry- graphics cards arent really
frame rate. but you may need to reduce level games. made for gaming, but
nVidia GeForce GTX 480M / GTX the resolution. nVidia GeForce 310 / G105 M watching DVDs is ne.
280M / GTS 360M ATi Mobility nVidia GeForce GT 335M / Intel GMA 4500MHD / 4500M Intel GMA X3100 / 950
Radeon HD 5870 / 5650 GT 240 M / 9600M GT ATi ATi Mobility Radeon x1300 / x1900 Any SiS or UniChrome chipset
Mobility Radeon HD 5470 / 4850 *DISCLAIMER: This is only a guide and no guarantee your game will run. For best performance,
Your card not listed? Get in touch and well rate it for you. Contact us via email at whatlaptop@futurenet.co.uk make sure you have the latest GPU drivers loaded on your laptop

August 2010 WHAT LAPTOP 97


COMPETITION

WIN WIN WIN WIN


WIN A FREECO M
RIVE
TB H A RD D
XS 3.0 1 BS WORTH 120 EACH
E U P FOR G R A
FI V
Backing up your essential data is a task that is all
too easily forgotten, until that tragic day when
your laptop is stolen or ends up in tiny pieces at
the bottom of a concrete stairwell. All those
essential work les and treasured family photos
are far too valuable to lose, so Freecom has come
up with the perfect solution.
The surprisingly slender Freecom XS 3.0 hard
drive comes with a mighty 1TB of storage, more
than enough space to back up all of your laptops
work and media les, or simply add extra storage if
your hard disk is lling up. All you have to do is
connect the drive using the included USB cable and
your laptop will automatically recognise it.
USB 3.0 is supported, which allows for much
faster transfer times than standard USB 2.0 we
copied 1GB of les to the drive in just 35 seconds.
The Freecom XS 3.0 is also incredibly quiet, even
during transfer, and the rubber enclosure not only
reduces vibrations, but also prevents the drive from
skidding across your work surface if knocked.
A sturdy and highly usable back-up solution, weve
got ve Freecom XS 3.0 hard drives to give away, so
visit the What Laptop website for a chance to win.

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ENTER ONLINE www.whatlaptop.co.uk

98 WHAT LAPTOP August 2010


In association with

133
PRODUCTS
TESTED & BUYERS
GUIDE
RATED
INSIDE
All the information you need to choose the perfect laptop

reguLArs
100 What is a laptop? - Dont know a CPU from a RAM chip? Let us demystify the technology 104 What type of
user are you? - Confused by whats on offer? We help you dene your needs 106 essential advice - Tips to take the
strain out of buying your laptop 108 glossary - Essential technology explained in concise English 112 Processors
explored - Compare the processors available 113 graphics explored - We take you through the different graphics
technologies out there 114 buyers tables - When only the facts will do, we list the spec of every laptop weve ever reviewed
buyers guide

WHAT is A LAPTOP? Buying a laptop neednt be a problem, as long as youre


armed with the essential facts. Were here to help

Screen
This needs to be large enough
for you to use comfortably, but
if weight is an issue, consider
opting for a smaller screen. If you
want to watch DVDs and view
photos, opt for a glossy
Choosing a laptop that suits your Super-TFT screen, as this is much
needs is more than simply better for entertainment use.
getting the right specication
for the right price. Unlike a
desktop PC, you cant easily add
a new screen or keyboard, so its
best to choose a good one from
the start. If you get the chance,
go to a superstore and physically
test out the machines on offer.
What makes a good laptop is the Quick access buttons
combination of components and Many laptops have an array of
well thought out design. Here buttons above the keyboard that
are a few things to consider. allow you to instantly start your
favourite software applications,
such as an email client or internet
browser. You can congure them
to your own exact requirements.

Keyboard
The keys on a laptop arent as big
as on a desktop PC. Depending Touchpad
on the size of the laptop, you Laptops dont use a mouse; they
may nd the keyboard cramped. use a touchpad, which is an
Keys should be well spaced and oblong strip in front of the
solidly mounted. If they rattle keyboard. You can add a mouse if
when you type, this is a sign of a you dont like this method, so
poor keyboard. dont be too worried about it.

POrTs VgA-out: ethernet: PC Card:


Connects to an Connects you to a older expansion
analogue monitor cabled network card upgrade slot

Firewire: Card Reader:


HDMI: S-video: expressCard: For importing and Can read a host of
Connects to hi-def Connects to your Fast expansion card exporting data at compact ash
digital monitors VCR or television upgrade slot high speed storage cards

100 WHAT LAPTOP August 2010


buyers guide

In association with

The inside of a laptop is made up of a great many different


components, each working together to run a program, load a
webpage or play a game. Youll need a basic idea of what each
one is, in order to choose the right laptop for you. On the
following pages well go a little deeper into what you want and
why. For now, you need to be aware of a few terms:

Processor
(cPu)
This is the
heart of any
laptop and Hard drive
processes the This is a disk that physically holds all your
data you input into photos, music and videos. The larger the
it. Its a chip that is capacity, the more you can store. Hard
located inside and drive capacities start at 160GB and can go
calculates millions of up to 1TB (1024GB) at present, but weve
operations a second. You found that 160GB is often more than
dont necessarily have to have the enough for most people. Larger laptops
fastest chip, but getting the latest often hold two hard drives.
technology will provide a degree of future-proong
and will let you run tasks faster.

graphics
There are two types of
laptop graphics
available integrated
and dedicated (also
referred to as discrete)
Memory (rAM) and getting the right
While the hard drive stores your data, its one when you buy your
rather slow, so when the processor needs anything, laptop is vital, as you
the data will be loaded into memory. The amount of cant upgrade later. Integrated chips are the cheapest and
memory in your laptop will greatly determine how are intended for running the most basic functions, so if you
quickly the laptop will run. Aim to have at least want to play games youll need to make sure you have a
2048MB and, if your budget will allow, aim to have dedicated graphics card. See page 113 for details of the
much more as youll really see the difference. latest cards for games and multimedia use.

Microphone: eSata: Modem:


Used for recording For high-speed Plugs into your phone
webcam messages data transfers line for dial-up internet

S/PDIF: uSB: DisplayPort: optical drive:


Digital output for Connects high- An alternative Create and play CDs,
headphones speed devices to HDMI DVDs and Blu-ray discs

August 2010 WHAT LAPTOP 101


buyers guide

secONdAry FeATures Aside from the main specication, there are a number of
other components you need to consider when buying

dVd FOrMATs WireLess NeTWOrKs


There are a variety of DVD formats, At one time, setting up a network in your home meant running
but as long as you have the right media cables from your internet connection into a controller and then
for your drive, they work the same way. The most common are: cables to each computer in the house. Wireless LAN carries out
the same task, but without the wires. The technology comes in a
dVd-r: can record up to 4.5GB of data. It is a once-only format, so number of forms, you just need to make sure that the controller
once nalised can be played by most DVD players, but cannot be chip in your router is the same as the one in your laptop. There are
written to again. a number of competing wireless network (or Wi-Fi) standards, so
dVd-rW: can record up to 4.7GB, but with the advantage that you heres our quick guide to understanding them.
can add or remove data to or from it at any time.
dVd+r: can record up to 4.7GB on a single-layered/single-sided 802.11n: The current top-end standard. With a
disc. Like DVD-R you can record only once. theoretical speed of up to 270Mbps its ideally
dVd+rW: can record up to 4.7GB. Since it is rewritable, it can be placed for streaming video around your
overwritten several times. house. It can increasingly be found in
dVd+/-r dL: DL stands for Dual Layer, which means you can use all new laptops, but youll also need
dual-layer recordable discs to store up to 8.5GB of data. an 802.11n compatible router.
dVd-rAM: isnt commonly used for home recording as it requires 802.11g: For many, this is seen as
a special unit to play 4.7GB or 9.4GB recorded discs that are the entry-level standard. It offers a
sometimes housed in a cartridge. maximum speed of 54Mbps and
blu-ray: is a high-density optical disc format that uses a blue uses the same bandwidth as
laser to write more information on to a single disc than a CD or 802.11b (below). However, there
DVD. As it allows for more information to be stored- up to 25GB are limitations to this standard
per layer and 50GB on a dual-layer disc - it is the current format of its ne for le sharing but is too
choice for high-denition video discs, storing high-denition slow for video streaming.
movies and audio for better picture and sound quality than the 802.11b: The rst wireless
comparatively low capacities of standard DVDs are able to offer. networks used this standard
It also comes into its own as a data storage medium, with and the newer networks above
rewritable Blu-ray drives allowing you to back up all your valuable are backwards compatible
data. In our reviews, you will nd read-only Blu-ray drives referred with it. It provides speeds up
to as Blu-ray (Read) while to 11Mbps, which is ne for
recordable or rewritable drives are sharing small les but not for
referred to as Blu-ray (Write). streaming data at home.

screeNs
Screen technology has developed greatly in recent years and leD displays: Instead of using the uorescent tubes
there are a choice of technologies to take advantage of. found in most screens, LED panels use a row of LED lights
running along the bottom of the panel. This enables the
Thin Film Transistor (TFT): The standard screen technology for screen to produce truer colours and better contrast, so
laptops is predominantly found on business machines. It has a movies and photos appear more realistic. It also reduces
matt nish, so is perfect for use in bright locations, but the overall power consumption for an improved battery life.
image isnt as bright or vibrant as youll nd from Super-TFT.
which screen format?
Super-TFT: This is a newer screen technology that takes a Several business laptops are available with upright 4:3
standard TFT panel and adds a glossy, lacquered top layer. The aspect ratios the same as older TVs but most
end result is brighter and more vibrant image quality and far more machines are now shipped with widescreen 16:10
realistic pictures. The main downside of the lacquered coat, panels, or even wider 16:9 displays. This allows you to t
however, is that it can be quite reective, especially when viewed more documents side by side onscreen and they are
outdoors or in brightly lit rooms. As a result, although it is ideal for also great for watching lms in their native resolution.
entertainment use, it isnt the best choice for travel use.

102 WHAT LAPTOP August 2010


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In association with

3g/HsdPA HdMi
laptops HDMI stands for High-Denition
Not everyone will want or need Multimedia Interface and is a digital
to access the internet or get their interface designed to send
email while out on the road. However, uncompressed digital audio and
for those who need to keep in touch, this video data from your laptop to an
is the best way to go about it. 3G and external HD screen. It is seen as the digital
HSDPA (High-Speed Download Packet Access) replacement for older technologies,
are mobile telephony technologies that allow including VGA, S-video, and even DVI, which has never been widely
wireless internet access at broadband speeds by adopted on laptops, except on high-end machines. When used to
connecting to the same masts as your mobile phone. connect a laptop to an external monitor or HDTV, HDMI provides
Also, just like your mobile phone, the technology uses a the sharpest, high-quality images and is ideal for using your laptop
SIM card built into your laptop or added as an external card. as a full home entertainment centre.
Just as with a data-enabled phone, you can send and receive
emails, surf the internet and you can also use it for VoIP (Voice
over Internet Protocol) calls. Youll need an account with a service expresscards
provider, however, so there will be monthly contract fees. The ExpressCard is a
replacement for the older
PC Card (PCMCIA) slot found
bluetooth in older laptops, as it allows
Were all used to using Bluetooth on our faster connection speeds and the
mobile phones, but you can also have it on benet of devices being hot-swappable
your laptop. Bluetooth can be seen as (so you can remove them without having to
a wireless alternative to wired switch your laptop off). Like PC Cards, they
connections such as USB and uses come in a range of sizes and can be used for
short-range radio signals to wirelessly adding a variety of peripherals. The standard size is a
connect external peripherals or devices to your laptop. It only 34mm wide card, while the larger version, often found on desktop
works up to ten metres, so is great for synchronising your replacement machines, measures 54mm. Cards are 75mm long
contacts or downloading photos from your phone. While many and only 5mm thick. The 34mm form factor cards t into both
modern laptops over 499 (inc. VAT) currently feature Bluetooth card slots due to the design of the cards with an extended rod to
connectivity as standard, dont worry too much if your ideal reach the read heads. Nearly all modern laptops feature
machine doesnt. Bluetooth USB dongles can be bought cheaply ExpressCard slots, making it easy to add peripherals, but with so
these days and allow you to add Bluetooth connectivity to any much technology packed into laptops already, many buyers may
laptop or desktop PC that you currently own or plan to buy. nd that they dont use their ExpressCard slot very often.

16:9 aspect ratio


Better known as True Widescreen, 16:9
panels are squat but wider, so you can
view more information on them perfect for
work but, more importantly, theyre ideal for
watching movies.

16:10 aspect ratio


This ratio used to be the most common,
although its increasingly being replaced
by wider 16:9 panels. Its still very popular
in some older budget laptops.

August 2010 WHAT LAPTOP 103


buyers guide

WHAT TyPe OF user Are yOu?

bAsic
sTArT Here My needs are simple: web surng and writing
emails, so I wont need a high-end machine
To use this guide, nd which category best matches your
needs. Weve highlighted the types of things the laptops in TYPICAl SPeCIFICATIoN
each category can handle, as well as a typical specication.
Email
Intel Celeron or AMD
To make things easier, weve even highlighted recently Word Processing Sempron processor
reviewed machines we feel best typify each category Internet 1024MB DDR2 SDRAM
160GB hard drive
Watching DVDs
Integrated graphics card
What do you Editing audio/video 15.6-inch screen
want to do Games DVD+/-RW optical drive
with your
laptop?
Portable

ReCoMMeNDeD MACHINeS:

The average
specication ACER Aspire 5732Z-443G32Mn
you can 399 (inc. VAT) www.saveonlaptops.co.uk
Prize-winning expect for
laptops we your money
feel meet LENOVO G550
your needs 299 (inc. VAT) www.saveonlaptops.co.uk

HOMe OFFice sTudeNT/FAMiLy Pc


I have a wide variety of needs, but none Were on a tight budget, but it needs to
of them are particularly specialised cover a variety of intense applications

TYPICAl SPeCIFICATIoN TyPicAL sPeciFicATiON


Email Email
Intel Core 2 Duo or AMD Intel Core 2 Duo or Core
Word Processing Turion X2 processor Word Processing i3 processor
Internet 2048MB DDR2 SDRAM Internet 3072GB DDR2 SDRAM
250GB hard drive 320GB hard drive
Watching DVDs Watching DVDs
Integrated graphics card Dedicated graphics card
Editing audio/video 13.3 or 15.6-inch screen Editing audio/video 15.6-inch screen
Games DVD+/-RW optical drive Games DVD+/-R RAM optical drive

Portable Portable

ReCoMMeNDeD MACHINeS: ReCoMMeNDeD MACHINeS:

SONY VAIO VGN-NW20EF/P ACER Aspire 5810TG-354G32Mn


499 (inc. VAT) www.sony.co.uk 399 (inc. VAT) www.saveonlaptops.co.uk

DELL Inspiron 1564 SONY VAIO VPCEB1ZOE/B


587 (inc. VAT) www.pcworld.co.uk 775 (inc. VAT) www.misco.co.uk

104 WHAT LAPTOP August 2010


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In association with

POrTAbLe WOrKer rOAd WArriOr


It needs to be fully featured and I need Ill be taking it on the move with me daily,
to be able to carry it around with me so it needs to be light, with a good battery

TyPicAL sPeciFicATiON TyPicAL sPeciFicATiON


Email Email
Intel Core 2 Duo (CULV) Intel Core 2 Duo (CULV) or
Word Processing processor Word Processing Atom processor
Internet 3072GB DDR2 SDRAM Internet 3072GB DDR2 SDRAM
320GB hard drive 250GB hard drive
Watching DVDs Watching DVDs
Dedicated graphics card Integrated graphics card
Editing audio/video 13.3-inch screen Editing audio/video 12.1-inch screen
Games DVD+/-R RAM optical drive Games No optical drive

Portable Portable

ReCoMMeNDeD MACHINeS: ReCoMMeNDeD MACHINeS:

SONY VAIO VPCZ11Z9E/B MSI Wind U160


2240 (inc. VAT) www.morecomputers.com 330 (inc. VAT) www.amazon.co.uk

TOSHIBA Portg R600-13Z HP TouchSmart tm2-1010ea


1879 (inc. VAT) www.toshiba.co.uk 864 (inc. VAT) www.hp.com/uk

MediA creATOr gAMer


Everything I do is specialised, so I really I have a keen interest in technology and like
require a high-powered machine to play the latest games at full resolution

TyPicAL sPeciFicATiON TyPicAL sPeciFicATiON


Email Email
Intel Core i5 or Core i7 Intel Core 2 Quad or Core
Word Processing processor Word Processing i7 processor
Internet 4096MB DDR3 SDRAM Internet 4096MB DDR3 SDRAM
500GB or 1TB hard drive 500GB or 1TB hard drive
Watching DVDs Watching DVDs
Dedicated graphics card Dedicated graphics card
Editing audio/video 17 or 18.4-inch screen Editing audio/video 17 or 18.4-inch screen
Games Blu-ray optical drive Games Blu-ray optical drive

Portable Portable

ReCoMMeNDeD MACHINeS: ReCoMMeNDeD MACHINeS:

HP Pavilion dv7-3020ea ALIENWARE M17x


999 (inc. VAT) www.laptopsdirect.co.uk 3369 (inc. VAT) www.dell.co.uk

APPLE MacBook Pro (15-inch) ASUS G73JH


1799 (inc. VAT) www.apple.com/ukstore 1899 (inc. VAT) www.laptopsdirect.co.uk

August 2010 WHAT LAPTOP 105


esseNTiAL AdVice Buying a laptop neednt be a problem, as long as youre
armed with the essential facts. Were here to help you

w hen it comes to buying any


computer, it pays to do a little
research beforehand and, due to the vast
true, so you should consider what youre
likely to need the laptop for in the next
three years and choose accordingly.
Know your budget
Its worth having a maximum price in mind
when buying. After all, its easy to get
amount of sizes, prices and specications A laptop may be a computer, but its also carried away and opt for a faster processor
out there, nowhere is this more applicable portable, so the rst thing you need to or more storage space when the salesman
than when buying your rst laptop. consider is how portable you want it to be. suggests it, but what will this do to the nal
After all, you dont want to buy a hulking cost? once again, think what youll use the
Suit your needs desktop replacement if you have to carry laptop for and choose a specication
A common mistake is to throw your money it around every day. Nor do you need to accordingly. Youll nd a handy guide to
at the most expensive machine, thinking spend more than you have to on a slim and typical users and their needs on page 104.
this will answer all those questions you light ultraportable laptop when it will never
dont want to ask, as well as give you leave your desk. Its a good rule of thumb use plastic
plenty of future-proong. The truth is, that the larger the machine is, the more Always buy from a brand you know and
however, in six months time a new powerful it is likely to be. This isnt always trust, or use recommendations from
technology will come along that will true, however, as you can also get friends or colleagues. To ensure What
overshadow your choice. While this doesnt powerful sub-2kg machines, although Laptop only features trusted brands, all
mean your new laptop is redundant, it does youll certainly pay a premium for them. advertisers in this magazine are vetted
mean that you should think carefully when If youre simply going to carry it about the before they can advertise. Also, always
buying your laptop in the rst place, to house and maybe sit on the sofa and surf pay for your purchase using a credit card
ensure you get everything you need now the internet, you can opt for a machine that wherever possible. This will even help
and for the next few years or so. weighs around 3kg. If youre to carry it cover the cost of any unforeseen,
There is a notion that a computer should around all day, however, then consider accidental damage that may occur to the
last at least three years. This still holds opting for a laptop weighing 2.5kg or less. laptop itself before you get it home.

Battery life
Manufacturers claims can vary widely,
so its best to check the battery life with
our reviews. We nd that three hours of
battery life is typical for most laptops,
t
expect a laptop to las but this can vary depending on how you
around three years use it and the size of the battery.

of
Size matters think
how youll us e it
Size matters
Laptops can weigh anything from 775g
Consider your current to as much as 7kg, but youll nd most
and future needs systems weigh roughly 3kg. Avoid large
screens if you need mobility. However,
t widescreen laptops allow for larger
Try to test a laptop ou machines with little extra weight.
ying
in-store before bu

Have a budget in mind


and stick to it Touch and feel
The touch and feel of your laptop should

Always buy with a be high on your list of requirements.


Unlike a desktop PC, it wont be easy to
credit card
swap the keyboard or the screen. If you
can, check the usability in a showroom
or high-street store before you buy.

106 WHAT LAPTOP August 2010


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In association with

WArrANTy
The warranty on your laptop may not be an If you were told of any faults before you

initial concern, but its worth knowing your bought the goods.
rights. Electrical goods such as laptops are
covered by the Sale of Goods Act 1979 (as If the fault was obvious and it would

amended by the Sale & Supply of Goods have been reasonable to have noticed
Act 1994 and the Sale and Supply of Goods it on examination before buying.
to Consumers Regulations 2002). Any item
bought should be of satisfactory quality If you caused any damage yourself.
and be t for the purpose it was intended.
This means the goods must meet the If you made a mistake, e.g. you don't

standards any reasonable person would like the colour, it is the wrong size, etc.
expect, taking into account the description,
price and all other relevant information. If you have changed your mind about the year, its common to extend this, but its
Satisfactory quality includes the goods, or seen them cheaper elsewhere. worth looking at the overall cost. If youre
appearance and nish of the goods, their buying a budget machine for 200, is it
safety and durability and whether they are The situation may be different and you worth your while spending more to cover
free from defects. To this end, you should may have additional rights where the cost when it would be just as
check your new purchase as soon as you contracts involve credit or distance-selling economical to buy a new machine?
receive it and if there are any immediate (i.e. internet, catalogue or telephone sales If your laptop is vital for your work, then
defects, you can refuse delivery. There are or an unsolicited phone call). For more info wed suggest looking at onsite warranties,
a number of instances when a warranty is go to www.tradingstandards.gov.uk as this means an engineer will come to
not covered, and you, rather than you sending your laptop
these include: warranty update away to be repaired. Such warranties often
There are a wide range of laptop arent cheap, however, and vary depending
warranties, so its worth spending on your needs so tread carefully.
some time researching which one is If something does go wrong and you
best for you. Legally, the standard need to send the machine back, ask the
warranty lasts for one year average turnaround time it will take to
but, increasingly, vendors send the machine, have it repaired and
are starting to offer two then sent back. Also check the terms of
and even three-year your warranty. Keep hold of the packaging
warranties as standard. too, so you can return it in one piece. If you
Considering the issue of a buy a machine direct from a manufacturer,
warranty can save money in you will return the machine to them. If you
the long run. If the basic buy from a reseller, however, the warranty
warranty is only for a will be handled through them instead.

Jargon explained

Collect and return Return to base onsite next business global Parts and
(C&R) (RTB) day (oS NBD) labour (global P&l)
The supplier pays for the The customer pays for the This is the most expensive Should there be a fault, you
collection repair labour and transportation, but the form of warranty cover. The can get your laptop repaired
parts, and returns the laptop supplier pays for repair labour supplier physically comes to when abroad. Depending on
to the customer. Batteries and parts. Batteries have a your home or ofce to repair the terms of your warranty,
have a limited warranty, as it limited warranty, as it the laptop and bears all the this can either be onsite or by
depends on how they have depends on how they have incurred costs of repair a repair centre. Check your
been maintained. been maintained. labour, parts and travel. warranty before travelling.

(These are only guidelines and you should check with your warrantys Terms and Conditions as they may differ in some areas)

August 2010 WHAT LAPTOP 107


buyers guide

LAPTOP gLOssAry Buying a laptop neednt be a problem, as long as youre


armed with the essential facts. Were here to help

When buying a laptop, the sheer volume by fast-talking salespeople intent on more, as here you'll nd our easy-to-use,
of technical terminology involved can convincing you that you absolutely must quick-reference breakdown of the most
complicate what should ideally be a have a vast range of features that you essential laptop technology. Read it before
relatively simple buying decision. The possibly don't need at all and maybe going into the shop, or take it with you, and
whole process isn't made any easier have never even heard of. Well, fret no it'll tell you all you need to know.

3g / HSDPA DisplayPort
Mobile telephony A digital audio/video
technologies that allow interface used to connect
high-speed wireless a computer to an external
internet access. HSDPA is display for optimum image
the more recent and can quality. Currently not as
be referred to as 3.5G. commonly used as HDMI.

Aspect ratio DVI


The ratio of the width of a An abbreviation of Digital
screen to its height. Most Visual Interface. An older
modern laptops feature audio/video interface used
16:9 screens - known as to connect a computer to
True Widescreen - for the an external display. Rarely
widest possible picture. seen on modern laptops.

Bluetooth ethernet
A short-distance wireless A wire-based network
technology with a maximum technology. Gigabit is the
range of ten metres. Used to fastest connection and is
synchronise data and share backwards compatible
small les with devices such with the older and slower
as mobile phones. 10/100 standard.

Blu-ray expressCard
A high-capacity optical An internal upgrade slot
disc format, primarily used that allows the easy
to store high-denition connection of peripherals
video. Currently up to 50GB to a laptop. Comes in two
of data can be stored on a card sizes 54mm and the
single dual-layer disc. smaller 34mm form factor.

CulV Firewire (Ieee 1394)


An abbreviation of Compact A high-speed connection,
Ultra-Low Voltage. Used to ideal for transferring large
denote laptops that use quantities of data at high
low-powered components speeds to/from a laptop
to provide thin, light and and an external hard drive
highly-portable designs. or digital camcorder.

108 WHAT LAPTOP August 2010


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In association with

Flash memory HDMI


A data storage format that A digital audio/video
uses a memory chip rather interface used to connect
than a spinning disk a computer to an external
platter (see Hard drive), display for optimum image
making it faster, lighter quality. Supported on a
and less likely to fail. wide range of laptops.

gesture-control High-Denition (HD)


A user interface A term for high-quality
technology that lets you video content. Refers to
control certain functions video or screens with a
of a computer via a range vertical resolution of at
of predened hand and least 720 pixels (720p) or
nger movements. 1080 pixels (1080i/1080p).

gPS leD
A global navigation system A screen technology that,
that uses satellites to unlike standard TFT
pinpoint your location on screens, uses up to 32 LED
the globe in order to help lights to provide improved
you navigate to a location colour and contrast, and
of your choice. lower power consumption.

graphics card (gPu) lightScribe


A processing chip for A technology designed by
delivering visuals to a HP that lets you burn
screen. Integrated cards custom-designed disc
provide basic performance, labels to the surface of
while dedicated cards suit CDs or DVDs, without the
gaming/multimedia use. use of paper or glue.

Hard drive (HDD) Memory (RAM)


A storage format that uses Temporary storage that
a spinning disk platter to streams data from a hard
store data. Measured in drive or SSD, ready for a
Gigabytes and Terabytes, processor to use. The more
higher numbers indicate memory a laptop has, the
greater storage capacity. faster it is able to run.

Hardware Modem
Any and all physical A device designed for
components of a sending and receiving
computer, such as the digital information via a
processor, memory and standard telephone line
hard drive. Not to be and used to connect a
confused with Software. computer to the internet.

August 2010 WHAT LAPTOP 109


buyers guide

Motherboard Processor (CPu)


The central circuit board of The brain of a computer
a laptop, upon which all that carries out all tasks.
essential components, Laptop CPUs maximise
such as the processor, power-efciency for ample
memory and hard drive are performance without
directly connected to. sacricing battery life.

Netbook RAID
A compact, low-powered A method of linking two or
laptop designed to provide more hard drives to be
mobility at an affordable used as a single area of
price. Performance and storage space, for dividing
features cannot match a and replicating data
full-sized laptop, however. between the various disks.

Networking Resolution
The process of connecting The sharpness of a screen,
two or more computers, in measured by how many
order to share les and pixels can be displayed
resources. Networks can horizontally and vertically.
be wire-based (Ethernet) The higher the numbers,
or wireless (Wi-Fi). the sharper the image.

operating system SATA


The main software program A method of connecting
on a computer, through which internal storage devices
the computer interacts with such as hard drives to a
its Software and Hardware, computer. eSATA allows
and the user interacts with the connection of external
the computer itself. storage devices.

optical drive (oDD) Smartbook


A laser-based technology A compact laptop
that allows a computer to designed to combine the
read data from and write features of a Smartphone
data to such optical disc and a Netbook, for
storage formats as CD, optimum mobile use and
DVD and Blu-ray. wireless internet access.

Pointing stick (PS) Smartphone


Part of a laptops user A mobile phone that goes
interface, used to control above and beyond mere
onscreen actions. Mainly telephony by combining
seen on smaller laptops, some of the features of a
rather than a Touchpad, due handheld computer with a
to their compact size. standard telephone.

110 WHAT LAPTOP August 2010


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In association with

Software Touchscreen
Any program that runs on Part of a laptops user
a computer, such as the interface and used to
operating system, internet control onscreen actions,
browser and games. Not to using your nger or a
be confused with a stylus, via a touch-
computers Hardware. sensitive screen panel.

Solid State Drive ultraportable


A data storage format that A laptop weighing 2kg or
uses a memory chip rather less. Not to be confused
than a mechanical spinning with netbooks, as despite
disk platter (see Hard drive), similar dimensions and
making it faster, lighter and weights, they provide
less likely to fail. more power and features.

Super-TFT uSB
A glossy screen coating A connection for linking a
that provides more vibrant range of peripheral devices
images than standard TFT to a computer. Can be
screens, but is also more found on all laptops, with
reective when viewed in most sporting at least
brighter conditions. three USB ports.

Tablet PC VgA
A at-panel computer that An older audio/video
is primarily interacted with interface used to connect
via a touchscreen panel, a computer to an external
for using your ngers or a display. Still supported on
stylus to control the a wide range of laptops,
device and write onscreen. alongside HDMI.

TFT wi-Fi (Ieee 802.11)


The predominant screen A wireless network
technology used in laptops technology. 802.11n is the
and handheld devices. fastest, 802.11g is slower
Standard TFT screens have but more common and
a matt nish, while 802.11b is slower still. All
Super-TFTs are glossy. are backwards compatible.

Touchpad (TP) wiMAX


Part of a laptops user A long-distance wireless
interface and used to technology for providing
control onscreen actions. high-speed internet to the
The latest touchpads also most remote locations
provide gesture-control where traditional internet
functionality. access is impossible.

August 2010 WHAT LAPTOP 111


buyers guide

PrOcessOrs exPLOred How fast is the processor in your new laptop?


Compare the relative speeds of processors here

AMD Intel

The latest chips are


just as powerful as
NAME SPEED BUS SPEED CACHE NAME SPEED BUS SPEED CACHE
HIgH

desktop CPUs, allowing


CORE i7
you to edit video
AMD TURION X2 ULTRA 720QM 1.6GHz N/A 6MB L3
and run multiple
ZM-86 2.4GHz 3600MHz 2MB L2 620M 2.66GHz N/A 4MB L3
applications with no
lag or delay. They also ZM-84 2.3GHz 3600MHz 2MB L2 640LM 2.13GHz N/A 4MB L3
handle battery life far ZM-82 2.2GHz 3600MHz 2MB L2 CORE i5
more effectively than ZM-80 2.1GHz 3600MHz 2MB L2 540M 2.53GHz N/A 3MB L3
older chips. 520M 2.40GHz N/A 3MB L2
430M 2.26GHz N/A 3MB L2
520UM 1.066GHz N/A 3MB L3
CORE i3
TURION 64 X2 DUAL-CORE 350M 2.26GHz N/A 3MB L3
TL-66 2.3GHz 1600 MHz 2 x 512KB L2 330M 2.13GHz N/A 3MB L3
TL-64 2.2GHz 1600 MHz 2 x 512KB L2 330UM 1.26GHz N/A 3MB L3
TL-60 2GHz 1600 MHz 2 x 512KB L2
TL-58 1.9GHz 1600 MHz 2 x 512KB L2 CORE 2 DUO
TL-56 1.8GHz 1600 MHz 2 x 512KB L2 SP9400 2.4GHz 1066MHz 6MB L2
MobileMark over 200 TL-52 1.6GHz 1600 MHz 2 x 512KB L2 SP9300 2.26GHz 1066MHz FSB 6MB L2
MobileMark under 200 TL-50 1.6GHz 1600 MHz 2 x 256KB L2 T9500 2.6GHz 800MHz 6MB L2
T8300 2.4GHz 800MHz 3MB L2
MeDIuM

These chips offer a TURION 64 T8100 2.1GHz 800MHz 3MB L2


good compromise ML-44 2.4GHz 800MHz 1MB L2 T7500 2.2GHz 800MHz 4MB L2
between price and ML-42 2.4GHz 800MHz 512KB L2 T7250 2GHz 800MHz 2MB L2
performance. For most ML-40 2.2GHz 800MHz 1MB L2 T5600 1.83GHz 667MHz 2MB L2
users, these chips are ML-37 2GHz 800MHz 1MB L2 T5500 1.66GHz 667MHz 2MB L2
more than enough, as
MK-36 2GHz 800MHz 512KB L2 SU 9400 1.4GHz 800MHz 3MB L2
theyll be able to run
ML-34 1.8GHz 800MHz 1MB L2 SU 9300 1.2GHz 800MHz 3MB L2
most programs with
ML-32 1.8GHz 800MHz 512KB L2
relative ease. PENTIUM
ML-30 1.6GHz 800MHz 1MB L2
T4200 2GHz 800MHz 1MB L2
ML-28 1.6GHz 800MHz 512KB L2
T2330 1.6GHz 533MHz 1MB L2
MT-40 2.2GHz 800MHz 1MB L2
MT-37 2GHz 800MHz 1MB L2 CORE 2 SOLO
MT-34 1.8GHz 800MHz 1MB L2 U2200 1.2GHz 533MHz 1MB L2
U2100 1.06GHz 533MHz 1MB L2
MobileMark over 180
MobileMark under 180
MOBILE SEMPRON CELERON M
Entry-level processors 3400+ 2GHz 800MHz 256KB L2 723 1.2GHz 800MHz 1MB L2
can often offer great 3100+ 1.8GHz 800MHz 256KB L2 390 1.7GHz 400MHz 1MB L2
value for money. They
low

2800+ 1.6GHz 800MHz 256KB L2 410 1.46GHz 533MHz 1MB L2


are powerful enough
for basic tasks, such ATOM
as word processing N450 1.66GHz 667MHz 512KB L2
and using the internet, N280 1.66GHz 667MHz 512KB L2
but are not so good for N270 1.66GHz 533MHz 512KB L2
multimedia tasks.

112 WHAT LAPTOP August 2010


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In association with

grAPHics exPLOred How does the average GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) compare when
it comes to games? We take a look at the different technologies

ATI nVidia
Cutting-edge graphics

HIgH
come at a price, not
only nancially, but
NAME DX FORM NAME DX FORM
also in weight. Perfect
Mobility Radeon HD 5870 11 Dedicated GeForce GTX 480M 11 Dedicated for games and editing
Mobility Radeon HD 5650 11 Dedicated GeForce GTX 280M 10 Dedicated video, these are the
Mobility Radeon HD 4870 10 Dedicated GeForce 9800M GTX 10 Dedicated chips gamers need.
Mobility Radeon HD 4850 10 Dedicated GeForce GTX 260M 10 Dedicated
Mobility Radeon HD 3870 10 Dedicated GeForce 9800M GT 10 Dedicated
Mobility Radeon HD 3850 10 Dedicated GeForce GT 335M 10 Dedicated
Mobility Radeon HD 4670 10 Dedicated GeForce GT 330M 10 Dedicated
Mobility Radeon HD 3670 10 Dedicated GeForce 9700M GTS 10 Dedicated
Mobility Radeon HD 4650 10 Dedicated GeForce GTS 250M 10 Dedicated
Mobility Radeon HD 3650 10 Dedicated GeForce 9650M GT 10 Dedicated
Mobility Radeon HD 3470 10 Dedicated GeForce GT 130M 10 Dedicated
Mobility Radeon HD 3450 10 Dedicated GeForce 9600M GT 10 Dedicated
If you want a graphics

MeDIuM
Mobility Radeon HD 3430 10 Dedicated GeForce 9500M GS 10 Dedicated
card for everyday use,
Mobility Radeon HD 2600XT 10 Dedicated GeForce Go 8700M GT 10 Dedicated
this is your best
Mobility Radeon HD 2700 10 Dedicated GeForce 8600M GT 10 Dedicated option. They can play
Mobility Radeon X2500 9 Dedicated GeForce G105M 10 Dedicated most games and have
Mobility Radeon X1900 9 Dedicated Quadro FX 3600M 10 Dedicated enough power for
Quadro FX 2700M 10 Dedicated editing video. You
MoBILE WoRKSTATIoN GPUs
Quadro FX 1700M 10 Dedicated should expect such
Mobility FireGL V5725 10 Dedicated
Quadro FX 1600M 10 Dedicated a card to last for
Mobility FireGL V5700 10 Dedicated
Quadro FX 770M 10 Dedicated up to three years.
Mobility FireGL V5000 9 Dedicated
GeForce 9400M G 10 Integrated
Mobility FireGL V5250 10 Dedicated
GeForce 9300M G 10 Dedicated
Mobility FireGL V3100 9 Dedicated
GeForce 9200M GS 10 Dedicated
Mobility FireGL T2 9 Dedicated
GeForce 9100M G 10 Integrated
Mobility FireGL 9000 9 Dedicated
Mobility FireGL 7800 9 Dedicated GeForce 8400M GT 10 Dedicated

Radeon HD 3200 10 Integrated


Mobility Radeon X2300 9 Integrated
Radeon Xpress 1250 9 Integrated
Radeon Xpress 1100 9 Integrated
These tend to be
Radeon Xpress 200M 9 Integrated
integrated solutions,
so performance is
low

secondary to price.
others They are ne for
watching DVDs and
Intel GMA 4500MHD 10 Integrated SiSM671MX 9 Integrated running standard
Intel GMA X3100 9 Integrated SiS649MX 9 Integrated applications, but
Intel GMA 950 9 Integrated SiS656MX 9 Integrated not for playing
VIA / S3 UniChrome 9 Integrated SiSM661MX 9 Integrated computer games.
SiSM661FX 9 Integrated

These tables are intended for reference only and are a reection of benchmarks gathered in the What Laptop test labs. Different system congurations may have an effect on overall performance.

August 2010 WHAT LAPTOP 113


buyers TAbLes Use the colour-coded tabs to help you nd your
perfect laptop in the right price band

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ACer www.acer.co.uk
Aspire One range. These netbooks come with 8.9 or 10.1-inch screens. An Intel Atom processor provides the power,while a GMA 3150 GPU provides graphical capabilities. There's no optical drive.
Aspire One 532 290 1.2 10.1 Intel Atom N450 1024 250 Windows 7 No n VGA
Aspire 1410. These 11.6-inch ultraportable machines are powered by an Intel Celeron processor,with an integrated GPU offering limited 3D power. There's no optical drive. Weights start at 1.4kg,prices at 299
Aspire 1410-74G25n 299 1.4 11.6 Intel Celeron 743 2048 250 Windows 7 No n VGA,HDMI
Aspire 4820T. These 14-inch machines are powered by an Intel Core i5 processor. A dedicated ATi GPU is in place. Prices start at 850,with weights from 2.1kg
Aspire 4820T 850 2.1 14 Intel Core i5 430M 4096 500 Windows 7 Tri-Format DVD DL n VGA,HDMI
Aspire 5542. 15.6-inch laptops powered by a dual-core Athlon processor and featuring a Blu-ray drive. A dedicated ATi graphics card is in place. Weights start at 2.7kg,prices from 500
AMD Athlon II Dual-Core
Aspire 5542-304G32Bn 500 2.7 15.6 4096 320 Windows 7 Blu-ray (Read) n VGA,HDMI
M300
Aspire 5732Z. These 15.6-inch entry level machines are powered by an Intel Pentium processor,with an integrated Intel graphics card providing limited 3D power. Weights start at 2.6kg,prices at 399
Aspire 5732Z-443G32Mn 399 2.6 15.6 Intel Pentium T4400 3072 320 Windows 7 Tri-Format DVD DL n VGA
Aspire 5738. These 15.6-inch entry-level multimedia machines are powered by a range of Intel processors,with some models featuring Intel GPUs,while others boast more powerful ATi offerings.
Aspire 5738PG-644G32Mn 680 2.8 15.6 Intel Core 2 Duo T6600 4096 320 Windows 7 Tri-Format DVD DL n VGA,HDMI
Aspire 5810. This entry-level Intel Core 2 Solo laptop has a 15.6-inch screen and integrated graphics. Prices start at 399 with weights from 2.4kg
Aspire 5810TG-354G32Mn 399 2.4 15.6 Intel Core 2 Solo SU3500 4096 320 Windows Vista Dual-Format DVD DL n VGA,HDMI
Aspire 5940. These 15.6-inch portables are powered by the latest Intel Core i7 processors and have dedicated ATi GPUs,as well as a built-in Blu-ray drive. Weights start at 3.1kg,with prices from 1000
Aspire 5940G-724G50Mn 1000 3.1 15.6 Intel Core i7 720QM 4096 500 Windows 7 Tri-Format DVD DL n VGA,HDMI
Aspire 8935. Powered by a range of Intel processors,these 18.4-inch laptops contain high-end ATi Mobility Radeon HD 4670 graphics cards. Weights start at 4.3kg,with prices from 799
Aspire 8935G-744G50BN 1079 4.3 18.4 IntelCore2DuoP7450 4096 500 Windows 7 Blu-ray (Read) n VGA,HDMI
Aspire 8935G-904G1TBwn 799 4.4 18.4 Intel Core 2 Quad Q9000 4096 1 (TB) Windows Vista Blu-ray (Read) n VGA,HDMI
Aspire 8942. These large 18.4-inch desktop replacement systems are powered by Intel's range of Core processors,with graphics handled by a range of powerful ATi chips. Weights start at a heavy 4.3kg.
Aspire 8942G-526G64Bi 1280 4.3 18.4 Intel Core i5 520M 6072 640 Windows 7 Blu-ray (Read) n VGA,HDMI
ADVeNT www.pcworld.co.uk
Roma. These 15.6-inch laptops come with a choice of either an Intel Celeron or Pentium processors,while an integrated GMA 4500M handles graphics. Weights start at 2.9kg,while prices start at 349
Roma 2000 350 2.9 15.6 Intel Celeron 900 3072 320 Windows 7 Dual-Format DVD DL g VGA,HDMI
Verona SU. This Intel Celeron-powered portable has a 13.3-inch screen and integrated graphics. There is no optical drive. Weights begin at 1.7kg,with prices from 380
Verona SU 380 1.7 13.3 Intel Celeron SU2300 2048 250 Windows 7 No n VGA
ALIeNWAre www.alienware.co.uk
M11x. This 11.6-inch gaming laptop is powered by an Intel Core 2 Duo processor,with graphics supplied by a both powerful dedicated nVidia GPU and an integrated Intel card. No optical drive is included.
256
M11x 1184 2 11.6 Intel Core 2 Duo SU7300 4096 Windows 7 No n VGA,HDMI
(SSD)
M15x. This impressive 15.6-inch gaming system is powered by Intel's Core i7 processor,with a powerful nVidia GPU providing 3D power. Weights start at 4.3kg,with prices starting at a reasonable 1199
M15x 1422 4.7 15.6 Intel Core i7 720QM 4096 250 Windows 7 Tri-Format DVD DL n VGA,DisplayPort
M17. These gaming laptops feature a 17-inch display. They're available with a range of Intel Core 2 Duo and Core 2 Quad processors. Graphics come in the form of a single or dual ATi Mobility Radeon HD 3870
M17x 3369 5.8 17 Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9300 4096 1 (TB) Windows Vista Blu-ray (Read) n VGA,HDMI,DisplayPort
APPLe www.apple.com/uk
MacBook. These 13.3-inch multimedia machines are powered by a range of Intel Core 2 Duo processors,with an nVidia GeForce handling graphics. Weights start at 2.1kg,while prices start at 849
MacBook 849 2.2 13.3 Intel Core 2 Duo P8600 2048 250 Mac OS X 10.6 Dual-Format DVD DL n Mini DisplayPort
MacBook Pro. These laptops feature a 13.3,15.4 or 17-inch display. Processing power is provided by Intel's Core 2 Duo processors. The 13.3-inch model features an integrated nVidia chip,while the larger
MacBook Pro (15-inch) 1799 2.6 15.4 Intel Core i7 620M 4096 500 Mac OS X 10.6 Dual-Format DVD DL n VGA,DVI,HDMI
MacBook Pro (17-inch) 1849 3 17 Intel Core 2 Duo T9600 4096 500 Mac OS X 10.5.7 Tri-Format DVD DL n Mini DisplayPort

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ADDITIONAL
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REVIEWED
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RATING
ISSuE

Weights start at 1kg. Prices start at 199


Intel GMA 3150 1 yr Global C&R P&L 137 6 A recommendable netbook with a decent battery life,but otherwise nothing to excite here

Intel GMA 4500MHD 1 yr C&R P&L 135 8 A fantastic ultraportable machine with an excellent battery

ATi Mobility Radeon HD 5470 1 yr Global C&R P&L 137 8 A combination of power and portability on a level we've never seen before

ATi Mobility Radeon HD 4200 1 yr RTB 139 7 Subdued performance,but strong build and excellent features

Intel GMA 4500M 1 yr C&R P&L 136 8 This laptop has it all: power,performance and portability
Weights start at 2.7kg,while prices start at 430
ATi Mobility Radeon HD 4570 1 yr C&R P&L 138 7 Touch functionality that really works and a great all-round machine

Intel GMA 4500MHD 1 yr Global C&R P&L 138 8 A stylish and usable machine with great graphics,but a few aws

ATi Mobility Radeon HD 4650 1 yr C&R P&L 137 7 Stunning power makes for a great media centre,but it lacks a Blu-ray drive

ATi Mobility Radeon HD 4670 1 yr C&R P&L 133 8 A great all-round media centre with no real aws
ATi Mobility Radeon HD 4670 1 yr C&R P&L 139 7 Slightly older components,but still a great option for the price
Prices start at 1149
ATi Mobility Radeon HD 5850 1 yr C&R P&L 136 8 It is expensive,but you get what you pay for,and more

Intel GMA 4500M 1 yr RTB P&L 133 4 A decent machine for basic home use,but awed by an awful battery

Intel GMA 4500M 1 yr RTB P&L 139 5 Suffers from inexplicably poor battery life,despite the low-voltage processor

Weights start at 2kg,with prices from 1184


nVidia GeForce GT 335M/ 1 yr C&R P&L 136 8 Superb graphical performance combined with great portability
Intel GMA 4500MHD

nVidia GeForce GTX 260M 1 yr OSM P&L 132 8 One of the best gaming machines available and it comes at a very reasonable price
graphics setup. Weights start at 4.4kg. Prices start at 1082
2 x nVidia GeForce GTX 280M 1 yr OSM P&L 128 9 One of the most powerful,and certainly the most stylish,gaming laptops available

nVidia GeForce 320M 1 yr C&R P&L 139 8 Great usability and a stunning style all of its own,but slightly under-specied
two machines boast a combination of integrated and dedicated nVidia GPUs. Weights start at 2.5kg. Prices start at 899
nVidia GeForce GT 330M 1 yr C&R P&L 138 8 Apple's stunning agship machine gets a high-powered Core i7 upgrade
nVidia GeForce 9400M/9600M GT 1 yr C&R P&L 128 8 A fantastic all-round multimedia machine with peerless build quality and bundled software

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OS
MANuFACTurer
ArCHOs www.archos.com
Archos 9. This 8.9-inch tablet is powered by an Intel Atom processor,with graphics supplied by an integrated Intel GPU. No optical drive is included. Weighing in at 800g,prices start at 460
Archos 9 460 800g 8.9 Intel Atom Z510 1024 60 Windows 7 No g No
Asus www.asus.com
Eee PC. These netbooks offer a range of screen sizes up to 12.1 inches. Processing power comes from an Intel Atom chip,and graphics are provided by an Intel GMA graphics card or nVidia's Ion technology.
Eee PC 1005PE 290 1.3 10.1 Intel Atom N450 1024 250 Windows 7 No n VGA
Eee PC 1201 399 1.5 12.1 Intel Atom 330 2048 250 Windows 7 No n VGA,HDMI
G51J. This 3D-capable gaming machine is powered by an Intel Core i7 processor,with a powerful nVidia GeForce GTX 260M GPU alongside nVidia's own 3D Vision technology providing impressive 3D performance.
G51J 1699 3.7 15.6 Intel Core i7 720QM 4096 1 TB Windows 7 Blu-ray (Read) n VGA,HDMI
G73Jh. A high-powered 17.3-inch gaming laptop with Intel Core i7 processor and dedicated ATi graphics card. Weights start at 4kg,and prices from 1899
G73Jh 1899 4 17.3 Intel Core i7 720QM 8192 1 (TB) Windows 7 Blu-ray (Read) n VGA,HDMI
K50. These 15.6-inch machines are powered by either an Intel Core 2 Duo or Pentium processor. Graphics are provided by a dedicated nVidia chip,or integrated Intel GPU. Weights start at 2.7kg,prices at 416
K50IN-SX149V 534 2.7 15.6 Intel Core 2 Duo T6400 4096 320 Windows 7 Tri-Format DVD DL g VGA,HDMI
N61J. This Intel Core i7 machine has a 16-inch screen with graphics supplied by a dedicated ATi GPU and a built-in Blu-ray drive. Weights from 2.9kg,prices start at 1099
N61J 1099 2.9 16 Intel Core i7 720QM 4096 640 Windows 7 Blu-ray (Read) n VGA,HDMI
K52F. These 15.6-inch laptops are powered by an Intel Core i3 processor,but with integrated graphics. Weights start at 2.7kg and prices start at 496
K52F-SX065V 496 2.7 15.6 Intel Core i3 350M 4096 320 Windows 7 Tri-Format DVD DL n VGA,HDMI
UL. These ultraportable machines come in 12.1,13.3 or 15.6-inch screen sizes. A CULV Intel Core 2 Duo processor provides the power and,while the smaller model features an integrated GPU,the larger model can be
UL20A 499 1.6 12.1 Intel Core 2 Duo SU7300 3072 320 Windows 7 No n VGA
UL50AT 699 2.5 15.6 Intel Core 2 Duo SU7300 4096 500 Windows 7 Dual-Format DVD DL n VGA,HDMI
UL50VT 799 2.4 15.6 Intel Core 2 Duo SU7300 4096 500 Windows 7 Tri-Format DVD DL n VGA,HDMI
X5DAB-SX028V. This 15.6-inch laptop is powered by a dual-core AMD processor,with an ATi GPU providing 3D performance. Weights start at 2.3kg,prices start at 499
X5DAB-SX028V 499 2.3 15.6 AMD Turion Ultra ZM84 4096 250 Windows 7 Tri-Format DVD DL n Yes
DeLL www.dell.co.uk
Inspiron Mini. These 10.1-inch netbooks are powered by Intel Atom processors and have an integrated Intel GPU providing graphics. No optical drive is included. Weights from 1.4kg,prices from 314
Inspiron Mini 10 314 1.4 10.1 Intel Atom N450 1024 250 Windows 7 No g VGA
Inspiron 1564. This 15.6-inch laptop is powered by an Intel Core i3 processor,with an integrated Intel GPU handling graphical performance. Weights start at 2.5kg,prices from 399
Inspiron 1564 599 2.5 15.6 IntelCorei3330M 4096 500 Windows7 Tri-Format DVD DL g VGA,HDMI
Latitude E6400 XFR. These 14.1-inch fully rugged laptops are powered by an Intel Core 2 Duo processor and feature an nVidia graphics card. Weights start at 4.3kg,prices start at 3171
Latitude E6400 XFR 4278 4.3 14.1 Intel Core 2 Duo P9600 4096 128
(SSD) Windows Vista Tri-Format DVD DL n VGA,HDMI
Latitude Z600. This 16-inch high-end business laptop has a Core 2 Duo processor and basic Intel integrated graphics. No optical drive is included. Weights start at 2.1kg and prices at 2321
256
Latitude Z600 2321 2.1 16 IntelCore2DuoSU9600 4096 (SSD) Windows 7 No n VGA
Studio 15. These excellent laptops start at 15.4-inches in size and feature a range of Intel Core 2 Duo processors,as well as the Core i7 processor. Graphics are provided by ATis Mobility Radeon HD range.
Studio 1557 765 2.7 15.6 Intel Core i7 720QM 4096 320 Windows 7 Tri-Format DVD DL n VGA,HDMI
Studio 1747. This 17-inch desktop replacement system is powered by Intel's Core i7 processor,with graphics being handled by an ATi Mobility Radeon HD 4650. Weight starts 3.5kg,prices at 836
Studio 1747 836 3.5 17 Intel Core i7 720QM 4096 500 Windows 7 Tri-Format DVD DL n VGA,HDMI
Vostro V13. This 13.3-inch CULV laptop is tted with an Intel Core 2 Solo processor,and has integrated graphics. No optical drive is included. Weights start at 1.6kg,prices from 522
Vostro V13 522 1.6 13.3 Intel Core 2 Solo SU3500 2048 320 Windows 7 No n VGA
Vostro 3500. These 15.6-inch laptops come with an Intel Core i3 processor for competitive performance at a budget price. Graphics are integrated. Prices begin at 429,with weights from 2.5kg
Vostro 3500 429 2.5 15.6 Intel Core i3 330M 3072 320 Windows 7 Tri-Format DVD DL n VGA,HDMI
Inspiron 15R. A Core i5 CPU and dedicated ATi graphics card power this 15.6-inch portable. Prices start at 429,with weights from 2.7kg
Inspiron 15R 429 2.7 15.6 Intel Core i5 430M 4096 500 Windows 7 Tri-Format DVD DL n VGA,HDMI
eLONeX www.elonex.com
Sliver. These tiny 12-inch laptops are powered by Intel's Atom processor,with an integrated graphics card providing limited 3D performance. There's no room for an optical drive,but weights start at 1.3kg,
Sliver 299 1.3 12 Intel Atom N270 1024 160 Windows XP No g HDMI
eMACHINes www.emachines.co.uk
E525. These 15.6-inch entry-level laptops are powered by a range of Intel Celeron processors,with graphics provided by a low-performance integrated GPU. Weights start at 2.5kg,prices at 299
E525-901G16Mi 299 2.5 15.6 Intel Celeron 900 1024 160 Windows Vista Tri-Format DVD DL g VGA
G525. This 17.3-inch Intel Celeron laptop has integrated graphics. Weights start at 2.8kg and prices start at 397
G525-902G16Mi 397 2.8 17.3 Intel Celeron 900 2048 160 Windows 7 Dual-Format DVD DL g VGA
FujITsu www.fujitsu.co.uk
Lifebook P3110. This ultraportable is powered by an Intel Pentium processor and has integrated graphics,and no optical drive. Weights begin at 1.5kg,prices from 599

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ADDITIONAL
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REVIEWED
GRAPHICS

RATING
ISSuE
Intel GMA 500 1 yr RTB P&L 136 3 Deeply awed usability and a highly reective screen make this impossible to recommend

These machines weigh as little as 940g. There is no optical drive. Prices start at 190 for the base model
Intel GMA 3150 1 yr Global C&R P&L 137 7 Asus sticks to a tried-and-tested formula and produces another strong netbook
nVidia Ion 1 yr Global C&R P&L 134 7 The most powerful mini-laptop you can buy,but does it qualify as a netbook?
Weights start at 3.7kg,with prices at 1699
nVidia GeForce GTX 260M 2yrsGlobalC&RP&L 135 7 A powerful laptop with decent 3D capabilities,but it comes at a price

ATi Mobility Radeon HD 5870 2yrsGlobalC&RP&L 137 7 A great gaming machine,offering style and performance,but the price is high

nVidia GeForce G102M 2yrsGlobalC&RP&L 135 7 Powerful mobility and a stunning screen,but slightly lacking in features

ATi Mobility Radeon HD 5730 2yrsGlobalC&RP&L 138 7 A very powerful multimedia machine,but underwhelming battery life and no Full HD screen

Intel GMA HD 2yrsGlobalC&RP&L 139 7 Performance and portability at a perfect price


congured with a dedicated nVidia graphics chip. There's no optical drive. Weights start at 1.6kg,prices start at 499
Intel GMA 4500M 1 yr Global C&R P&L 135 8 A fantastic machine that offers true value for money
Intel GMA 4500MHD 2yrsGlobalC&RP&L 136 6 Fantastic mobility and high-speed network access,but build quality is poor
nVidia GeForce G210M/ 1 yr Global C&R P&L 138 7 Power may be a little lacking,but portability certainly isn't
Intel GMA 4500M

ATi Mobility Radeon HD 4570 1 yr C&R P&L 134 7 Great 3D power for the price,but battery life is awful

Intel GMA 3150 1 yr C&R P&L 137 6 A fully featured netbook,but held back by some minor design aws

Intel GMA HD 1 yr RTB P&L 137 8 Excellent power and fantastic usability from this impressive laptop

nVidia Quadro NVS 160M 3 yrs OSM NBD P&L 134 8 Great protection,impressive performance and decent usability

Intel GMA 4500MHD 3 yrs NBD P&L 136 7 A great business tool with an impressive software suite
Weights start at a semi-portable 2.5kg. Prices start at 399
ATi Mobility Radeon HD 4570 1 yr C&R P&L 134 8 The most powerful laptop you can buy at this price,but portability is awed

ATi Mobility Radon HD 4650 1 yr C&R P&L 134 8 Powerful performance and audio from this quad-core multimedia machine

Intel GMA 4500M 1 yr C&R P&L 137 8 Gorgeous to look at and great to use a stunningly affordable CULV portable

Intel GMA HD 1 yr C&R P&L 138 8 Powerful performance and a tough chassis - ideal for frequent business use

ATi Mobility Radeon HD 5470 1 yr C&R P&L 139 9 The latest Inspiron is certainly the greatest,and an incredibly competitive package

while prices start at 299


Intel GMA 950 1 yr RTB P&L 135 7 A great looking machine,but limited performance on offer

Intel GMA 4500MHD 1 yr C&R P&L 135 6 You can't complain about what you get for the money,but there is better available

Intel GMA 4500M 1 yr C&R P&L 138 6 A big screen and good battery life,but lacks performance and features

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August 2010 WHAT LAPTOP 117


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FujITsu (contd)
Lifebook P3110 599 1.5 11.6 Intel Pentium SU4100 4096 320 Windows 7 No n VGA
Lifebook P770. These 12.1-inch laptops are powered by low-voltage Core i7 processors for improved portability. Graphics are integrated. Weights from 1.5kg,while prices start at 1420
Lifebook P770 1441 1.5 12.1 Intel Core i7 620UM 4096 160 Windows 7 Tri-Format DVD DL n VGA,HDMI
Lifebook T4410. This 12.1-inch Intel Core 2 Duo machine has integrated graphics and a weight of 2.2kg. Weights start at 2.2kg,prices from 1147
Lifebook T4410 1147 2.2 12.1 Intel Core 2 Duo P8700 2048 160 Windows 7 Tri-Format DVD DL n VGA,HDMI
GeTAC www.getac.com
Getac B300. This 13.3-inch fully rugged laptop is powered by an Intel Core 2 Duo L7500 processor,with an integrated Intel GMA X3100 providing 3D power. Weights start from as little as 4kg,prices start at 3901
Getac B300 3901 4 13.3 Intel Core 2 Duo L7500 2048 160 Windows XP Tri-Format DVD DL n VGA
HANNsPree www.hannspree.com
SN12. These 12-inch laptops are powered by an Intel Core 2 Duo processor and integrated graphics. No optical drive is included. Prices from 469,weights from 1.6kg
SN12-E22B 469 1.6 12 Intel Core 2 Duo SU4100 2048 250 Windows7 No n VGA
HI-GrADe www.higrade.com
Notino D8000. These 15.6-inch multimedia laptops are powered by Intel Core 2 Duo processors with nVidia GPUs handling the graphics. Weights start at 2.7kg,while prices start at 699
Notino D8000W 699 2.7 15.6 Intel Core 2 Duo P8700 2048 320 Windows7 Tri-Format DVD DL g VGA,HDMI
R5500. This semi-rugged 15.4-inch laptop is powered by an Intel Core 2 Duo T6500 processor,and an integrated GMA 900 GPU is also included. Weights start at 3.2kg,prices at 799
R550 799 3.2 15.4 Intel Core 2 Duo T6500 2048 160 Windows Vista Tri-Format DVD g VGA
HP www.hp.com/uk
Compaq Presario. This 15.6-inch business laptop is powered by an Intel Celeron processor,with graphics handled by an integrated Intel chip. Weights begin at 2.8kg and prices start at 358
Compaq Presario CQ61-402SA 358 2.8 15.6 Intel Celeron 900 2048 250 Windows 7 Tri-Format DVD DL n VGA,HDMI
EliteBook 6930p. These 14.1-inch business tools are powered by a range of Intel Core 2 Duo processors,and also feature integrated graphics cards. Weights start at 2.4kg,prices at 920
EliteBook 6930p 929 2.4 14.1 Intel Core 2 Duo P8700 2048 250 Windows Vista Tri-Format DVD DL/LightScribe n VGA
Envy. These extremely stylish laptops come in two sizes,one with a 13.3-inch screen,the other a 15.6-inch screen. The Envy 15 is powered by a quad-core Intel Core i7 processor,while the Envy 13 boasts a Core 2
Envy 15 1199 2.4 15.6 Intel Core i7 720QM 4096 320 Windows 7 No n HDMI
Mini. These 10.1-inch netbooks are powered by Intel's Atom processor. Graphics are integrated,and no optical drive is included. Weights start at 1.2kg,with prices from 299
Mini 210-1002SA 299 1.2 10.1 Intel Atom N450 1024 250 Windows 7 No g VGA
Pavilion dm3. These 13.3-inch ultraportables are powered by a choice of Intel or AMD processors,with integrated Intel or ATi chips providing 3D performance. Weights start at 1.9kg,with prices starting at 529
Pavilion dm3-1020ea 529 1.9 13.3 AMD Athlon Neo X2 L335 4096 320 Windows 7 No g VGA,HDMI
Pavilion dv6. These 15.6-inch consumer laptops are powered by both Intel and AMD processors and either an ATi or nVidia graphics card. Weights start at 2.8kg and prices start at 499
Pavilion dv6-2105ea 649 2.8 15.6 Intel Core i5 430M 3096 500 Windows 7 Tri-Format DVD DL/LightScribe n VGA,HDMI
Pavilion dv7. These 17.3-inch laptops are powered by the latest Intel Core i7 processors. A dedicated nVidia GeForce GPU supplies graphical power. Weights start at 3.8kg,with prices from 999
Pavilion dv7-3020ea 999 3.8 17.3 Intel Core i7 720QM 4096 640 Windows 7 Blu-ray (read) n VGA,HDMI
ProBook. These 14-inch machines come with Intel Core processors and integrated graphics. Weights begin at 2.5kg and prices start at 793
ProBook 6440b 793 2.5 14 Intel Core i3 350M 2048 320 Windows 7 Tri-Format DVD DL n VGA
TouchSmart tm2. These 12.1-inch laptops come with Pentium processors and dedicated ATi graphics. An external USB optical drive is included. Weights start from 2.1kg,prices from 864
TouchSmart tm2-1010ea 864 2.1 12.1 Intel Pentium U4100 4096 320 Windows 7 No n VGA,HDMI
LeNOVO www.lenovo.com/uk
G550. These budget 15.6-inch laptops come with a variety of Intel Celeron Pentium or Core 2 Duo processors,with either an Intel integrated or nVidia dedicated graphics card. Weights start at 2.5kg.
G550 299 2.5 15.6 Intel Celeron 900 2048 250 Windows Vista Tri-Format DVD g VGA
IdeaPad. These netbooks come with either a 10.2 or 12.1-inch screen. Power is courtesy of Intel's Atom N270 processor with a GMA 950 handling graphics. Weights start at 1.1kg and prices start at 299
IdeaPad S10-3t 429 1.6 10.1 Intel Atom N450 1024 250 Windows 7 No n VGA
ThinkPad Edge. This 13.3-inch consumer model is powered by a value AMD Turion Neo X2 processor,with an integrated ATi GPU providing graphics. There's no optical drive. Weights start at 1.8kg,with prices from 479
ThinkPad Edge 479 1.8 13.3 AMD Turion Neo X2 L625 4096 320 Windows 7 No n VGA,HDMI
ThinkPad R500. This 15.4-inch business machine comes with an Intel Core 2 Duo processor and integrated graphics. Weights start at 2.9kg and prices start at 654
ThinkPad R500 654 2.9 15.4 Intel Core 2 Duo T6670 2048 250 Windows 7 Tri-Format DVD DL n VGA
ThinkPad T410s. This ultraportable Core i5 laptop has a 14.1-inch screen and integrated graphics. Weights start at 1.8kg,with prices from 1376
ThinkPad T410s 1376 1.8 14.1 Intel Core i5 520M 2048 250 Windows 7 Tri-Format DVD DL n VGA
ThinkPad W701. This incredibly powerful Core i7 workstation comes with a 17-inch screen and dedicated nVidia graphics. Weights start at a hefty 4kg,with prices from an equally hefty 3421
ThinkPad W701 3421 4 17 Intel Core i7 920XM 6144 500 Windows 7 Tri-Format DVD DL n VGA,DVI
ThinkPad X100e. This ultraportable laptop has an 11.6-inch screen and an AMD Athlon processor. However,graphics are provided by a dedicated ATi Radeon graphics card. Weights from 1.5kg,prices from 394
ThinkPad X100e 394 1.5 11.6 AMD Athlon Neo MV-40 2048 250 Windows 7 No n VGA
MeDION www.medion.co.uk
Akoya E1217. This 10.1-inch netbook is powered by Intel's Atom N270,with graphics being handled by an integrated GMA 950. There's no optical drive,but weight starts at only 1.1kg,with prices from 300

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ADDITIONAL
COMMENTS
WARRANTY
STANDARD

REVIEWED
GRAPHICS

RATING
ISSuE
Intel GMA 4500M 1 yr C&R P&L 137 6 A highly portable machine that provides ample power and a great battery life

Intel GMA HD 2 yrs C&R P&L 139 8 Superb portability and performance with the latest low-voltage Intel processor

Intel GMA 4500MHD 2 yrs C&R P&L 138 6 Decent performance,but a lack of software support for the touchscreen

Intel GMA X3100 5 yrs RTB P&L 134 4 Protection for your data is adequate,but a woeful keyboard makes regular use of this laptop near impossible

Intel GMA 4500MHD N/A 138 6 Pricier than a netbook,but just as compact and twice as powerful

nVidia GeForce G 105M 1 yr C&R P&L 132 7 A powerful system that's ideal for the home and ofce

Intel GMA 900 2yrsGlobalC&RP&L 134 7 There's a lot to like here,and this could be the answer for those after a little more protection for their data

Intel GMA 4500M 1 yr C&R P&L 136 6 A little underwhelming,but a decent software package included

Intel GMA 4500MHD 3 yrs RTB P&L 134 7 A great machine that successfully marries regular and rugged features
Duo processor. ATi GPUs are present in both machines. Weights start at 1.8kg,prices start at 1199
ATi Mobility Radeon HD 4830 1 yr C&R P&L 132 8 The thinnest quad-core laptop we've seen to date and a striking design

Intel GMA 3150 1 yr C&R P&L 137 7 A fully featured netbook with only a few minor aws

ATi Mobility Radeon HD 3200 1 yr C&R P&L 135 7 An impressive portable machine with an excellent screen and design

nVidia GeForce G 105M 1 yr C&R P&L 136 7 A stylish high-powered media centre with awed usability

nVidia Geforce GT 230M 1 yr C&R P&L 137 8 Strong mobility,a great specication and a low price

Intel GMA HD 1 yr C&R P&L 138 7 It may not be as ash as many others,but this is a solid business tool

ATi Mobility Radeon HD 4550 2 yrs C&R P&L 138 7 A convertible tablet packed with features and excellent touch-friendly software

Prices start at 299


Intel GAM 4500M 1 yr C&R P&L 134 8 A truly excellent machine that is very hard to fault

Intel GMA 3150 1 yr C&R P&L 137 6 A unique design that's negatively impacted by excessive weight

ATi Radeon HD 3200 1 yr C&R P&L 136 7 A stylish mix of stunning usability,resilient build quality and ample mobility

Intel GMA 4500MHD 1 yr C&R P&L 136 7 A solid business laptop with great usability and an impressive battery life

Intel GMA HD 3 yrs RTB P&L 139 7 Fantastic usability and a stunning screen,but its poor mobility disappoints

nVidia Quadro FX 3800M 1 yr C&R P&L 138 8 The most powerful laptop we've ever seen,packed with great features but lacking portability

ATi Radeon HD 3200 1 yr C&R P&L 138 7 High-class corporate usability at an affordable price,but power is limited

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August 2010 WHAT LAPTOP 119


WEIGHT (KG)

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MeDION (contd)
Akoya E1217 300 1.1 10.1 Intel Atom N270 1024 250 Windows 7 No g VGA
Akoya E3211. This 13.3-inch CULV laptop is powered by an Intel Core 2 Duo processor,with an Intel GMA 4500M providing limited graphical capabilities. Weights start at 1.8kg,prices start at 500
Akoya E3211 500 1.8 13.3 Intel Core 2 Duo U2700 4096 320 Windows Vista Tri-Format DVD DL n VGA
MesH www.meshcomputers.com
Edge13 Aero RS. This 13.3-inch ultraportable laptop is powered by an Intel CULV processor,with an integrated graphics solution. Weights start at 1.7kg,prices at 599
Edge13 Aero RS 599 1.7 13.3 Intel Core 2 Solo SU3500 4096 500 Windows7 No g VGA,HDMI
Edge15. These 15.4 and 15.6-inch laptops are powered by a broad range of dual-core Intel processors,with graphics provided by integrated GPUs. Weights start at 2.6kg,prices start at 379
Edge15 Value 399 2.7 15.6 Intel Celeron T3000 2048 320 Windows 7 Dual-Format DVD DL g VGA
Edge15 Value Plus 419 2.6 15.6 Intel Core 2 Duo T6600 4096 500 Windows 7 Tri-Format DVD DL g VGA
Edge17 HD Pro R. This 17-inch multimedia laptop is powered by an Intel Core 2 Duo processor with an nVidia GeForce GPU providing graphical capabilities. Weights start at 3.1kg,while prices start at 699
Edge17 HD Pro R 699 3.1 17 Intel Core 2 Duo T9600 4096 250 Windows7 Tri-Format DVD DL g VGA
Edge DX. This 15.6-inch gaming machine is powered by Intel's Core i7 processor,with a powerful ATi Mobility Radeon HD 5650 providing DirectX 11-compatible graphical performance. Weights start at only 2.8kg.
Edge DX11-R 899 2.8 15.6 Intel Core i7 720QM 4096 500 Windows 7 Tri-Format DVD DL n VGA,HDMI
MsI uk.msi.com
CR610. This 16-inch machine is powered by an AMD processor,with an ATi graphics card providing 3D performance. Weights start at 2.5kg,with prices at 499
CR610-013UK 499 2.5 16 AMD Athlon II M300 4096 500 Windows 7 Blu-ray (Read) n VGA,HDMI
GT640-030UK. This powerfutl 15.4-inch gaming laptop boasts Intel's Core i7 processor,with graphics provided by a nVidia GeForce GTS 250M. Weights start at 2.8kg,prices at 1350
GT640-030UK 1350 2.8 15.4 Intel Core i7 720QM 4096 500 Windows 7 Blu-ray (Read) n VGA,HDMI
Wind. These machines comprise MSI's netbook range. Screen sizes range between 10 and 12.1 inches,with a range of either Intel or AMD processors powering the machines.
Wind U135 279 1.3 10.1 Intel Atom N450 1024 250 Windows 7 No n VGA
Wind U160 330 1.3 10 Intel Atom N450 1024 250 Windows 7 No n VGA
X400-225UK. This 14-inch machine is powered by an Intel CULV processor,with an integrated Intel GPU providing limited graphical performance. There's no optical drive,but weight is 1.7kg,while prices start at 520
X400-225UK 520 1.7 14 Intel Core 2 Solo SU3500 2048 500 Windows 7 No n VGA,HDMI
X600. This impressively powerful 15.6-inch CULV machine is powered by a resource-light Intel Core 2 Duo processor,with a mid-range ATi GPU providing graphical power. There's no room for an optical drive.
X600-055UK 759 2.2 15.6 Intel Core 2 Duo U9600 4096 500 Windows Vista No n VGA,HDMI
NOKIA www.nokia.co.uk
Booklet 3G. This excellent 10.1-inch netbook is powered by an Intel Atom processor,with graphics provided by an Intel GMA 500. There's no optical drive. Weights start at 1.2kg,prices start at 649
Booklet 3G 649 1.2 10.1 Intel Atom Z530 1024 120 Windows 7 No n HDMI
NOVATeCH www.novatech.co.uk
B17. This 17-inch laptop is powered by a dual-core AMD Athlon 64 processor,with graphics supplied by an integrated ATi GPU. Weights start at 3kg,prices at 589
B17 589 3 17 AMD Athlon 64 X2 TK-42 4096 500 Windows 7 Tri-Format DVD DL n VGA,HDMI
X1 GTX. These 18.4-inch gaming laptops are powered by a range of Intel Core 2 Duo processors,including a Core 2 Extreme Quad-core QX9300. You can choose either one or two nVidia GeForce GTX 280Ms,
X1 GTX Pro 2598 6 18.4 Intel Core 2 Duo T9900 4096 500 Windows Vista Blu-ray (Read) n DVI,HDMI
X65. These 17-inch desktop replacement systems are powered by either an Intel Pentium or Core 2 Duo processor,with graphics handled by an nVidia GeForce GT130M GPU. Weights start at 3.6kg.
X65 699 3.6 17 Intel Pentium T4200 4096 320 Windows7 Blu-ray (Read) n VGA,HDMI
PACKArD beLL www.packardbell.co.uk
Dot. This is Packard Bell's netbook range,with machines measuring up to 11.6 inches in size. Power is provided by both Intel and AMD processors,with 3D performance provided by integrated GPUs.
Dot VR/46 450 1.5 11.6 Intel Celeron SU2300 4096 320 Windows 7 No n VGA,HDMI
Dot S2 300 1.2 10.1 Intel Atom N450 1024 250 Windows 7 No n VGA
EasyNote LJ75. These 17.3-inch desktop replacement machines are powered by a broad range of Intel and AMD processors. 3D performance is provided by ATi graphics cards. Weights start at 3.2kg.
EasyNote LJ75-JO-080UK 699 3.2 17.3 Intel Core i5 430M 4096 500 Windows7 Tri-Format DVD DL n VGA,HDMI
EasyNote LM. These 17.3-inch Core i3 laptops have integrated graphics and weights start at 3kg. Weights start at 3kg,prices from 580
EasyNote LM86 580 3 17.3 Intel Core i3 330M 3072 320 Windows 7 Tri-Format DVD DL n VGA,HDMI
EasyNote NJ. These competitively priced 14-inch machines are powered by an Intel Pentium processor,with a GMA 4500M providing limited 3D performance. Weights start at a portable 2.4kg,while prices start at 430
EasyNote NJ65-AU-020UK 430 2.4 14 Intel Pentium T4200 3072 320 Windows Vista Dual-Format DVD DL n VGA,HDMI
EasyNote TJ. These 15.6-inch machines are powered by a range of Intel Pentium and AMD Turion dual core processors,with graphics being handled by either an Intel GMA 4500M or ATi Mobility Radeon HD 3200 GPU.
EasyNote TJ65-AU-052UK 450 2.7 15.6 Intel Pentium T4400 4096 320 Windows 7 Tri-Format DVD DL n VGA,HDMI
EasyNote TM. These 15.6-inch Intel Core i3 machines have graphics supplied by an integrated GPU. Weights start at 2.5kg,while prices start at 579
EasyNote TM86-GN-005UK 579 2.5 15.6 Intel Core i3 330M 4096 500 Windows 7 Tri-Format DVD DL n VGA,HDMI
PANAsONIC www.toughbook.eu
Toughbook CF-F8. This 14.1-inch semi-rugged laptop has a Core 2 Duo CPU and an integrated Intel GPU. Weights start at 1.7kg and prices at 1514
Intel 2.26GHz Core 2
Toughbook CF-F8 1514 1.7 14.1 3072 250 Windows XP Tri-Format DVD DL n VGA
Duo SP9300
Toughbook CF-T8. Semi-rugged 12.1-inch laptops featuring integrated Intel GMA 4500MHD graphics. Intel's Core 2 Duo U9300 chip provides processing power. There's no optical drive. Weights start at 1.4kg.
Toughbook CF-T8 1563 1.4 12.1 Intel Core 2 Duo U9300 1024 120 Windows XP No n VGA

120 WHAT LAPTOP August 2010


buyers TAbLes

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ADDITIONAL
COMMENTS
WARRANTY
STANDARD

REVIEWED
GRAPHICS

RATING
ISSuE
Intel GMA 950 1 yr C&R P&L 134 5 Outperformed by its peers,many of which are already using Intel's latest Atom processor,the N450

Intel GMA 4500M 1 yr C&R P&L 133 6 A decently priced CULV laptop,but there's little to excite here

Intel GMA 4500MHD 1 yr RTB P&L 136 5 Good usability and a nice screen,but far too awed compared to other CULV laptops

Intel GMA 4500M 1 yr C&R P&L 138 7 Great usability and a resilient chassis,but performance is slightly limited
Intel GMA 4500M 1 yr RTB P&L 137 7 A sturdy and usable machine with a stunning screen ideal for rst-time buyers

nVidia GeForce G 105M 1 yr RTB P&L 132 7 Not the most exciting laptop,but offering a great specication
Prices start at 899
ATi Mobility Radeon HD 5650 1 yr RTB P&L 139 7 The rst fully DirectX 11-compatible laptop and a powerful multimedia machine

ATi Mobility Radeon HD 4200 2 yrs C&R P&L 135 7 Blu-ray compatibility at a great price,but poor usability

nVidia GeForce GTS 250M 2yrsGlobalC&RP&L 134 6 A powerful laptop,but the 32-bit version of Windows doesn't do it justice
All models feature an integrated graphics solution. Weights start as low as 1.3kg,prices at 279
Intel GMA 3150 1yrGlobalC&RP&L 135 6 A particularily shiny choice,the Wind U135 is a good machine.
Intel GMA 3150 2 yrs C&R P&L 137 8 An excellent all-rounder with incredible battery life and fantastic usability

Intel GMA 4500M 1yrC&RP&L 136 6 A stunning screen and great usability,but the battery disappoints
Weights start at 2.2kg,with prices starting at 759
ATi Mobility Radeon HD 4330 2yrsGlobalC&RP&L 134 7 Highly portable,with a large screen,good battery life and impressive performance

Intel GMA 500 2 yrs C&R P&L 133 8 The best netbook we've seen to date,but it comes with a serious price tag

ATi Radeon Xpress X1270 1 yr C&R P&L 137 6 A decent entry-level media centre,but usability and performance are awed
giving you plenty of gaming power. Weights start at 6kg,with prices starting at 1678
2 x nVidia GeForce GTX 280M 1 yr C&R P&L 131 8 Lacks the wow factor of the Alienware M17x,but a good performer nonetheless
Prices start at 699
nVidia GeForce GT 130M 1 yr RTB P&L 132 8 A great all-rounder that makes for a terric desktop replacement system

Weights start at 1.2kg,prices start at 300


Intel GMA 4500M 1 yr C&R P&L 138 8 Not strictly a netbook,but a usable and powerful machine nonetheless
Intel GMA 3150 1 yr RTB P&L 137 8 Unique features here are combined with fantastic mobility and style one of the best netbooks we've seen
Prices start at 699
ATi Mobility Radeon HD 5470 1 yr RTB P&L 136 8 Stunning performance and features from this great family laptop

Intel GMA HD 1 yr C&R P&L 138 6 A budget laptop,and a slightly underspecied one for this price

Intel GMA 4500M 1 yr RTB P&L 132 8 A great consumer laptop offering everything the family will need
Weights start at 2.7kg,while prices start at 450
Intel GMA 4500M 1 yr RTB P&L 135 7 Impressive mobility,but performance and features are sorely missing

Intel GMA HD 1 yr RTB P&L 137 8 A high-powered and fully-featured machine,ideal for the whole family to use

Intel GMA 4500MHD 3 yrs C&R P&L 136 7 A highly portable,semi-rugged business laptop that can be used all day
Prices start at 1429
Intel GMA 4500MHD 3 yrs C&R P&L 120 8 A simple upgrade rather than an overhaul makes this a steadily improving rugged laptop

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August 2010 WHAT LAPTOP 121


BEST TOUCHSCREEN LAPTOP BEST SUB-799 LAPTOP
JULY 2010 JULY 2010

HP SONY
TOUCHSMART TM2-1010EA VAIO VPCEB1Z0E/B
PRICE 700 RATING 7 PRICE 775 RATING 8
REVIEWED ISSUE 138 REVIEWED ISSUE 138
The HP backs up its An excellent Full HD screen is
responsive and detailed perfectly complemented by a
touchscreen with a great Blu-ray drive, making this an
range of software. excellent multimedia machine
Impressive battery life and for the HD generation.
build quality make for a Performance is equally
highly portable and impressive with applications
feature-packed machine. running smoothly.

SUPPLIER www.morecomputers.com SUPPLIER www.misco.co.uk


TELEPHONE 0114 292 2930 TELEPHONE 0800 038 8880
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PC NeXTDAy www.pcnextday.co.uk
LogiQ 89-2411. This 15.4-inch laptop is powered by an Intel Core 2 Duo processor with a nVidia GeForce G 105M chip handling graphics. Weights start at 2.7kg,prices at 599
LogiQ 89-2411 599 2.7 15.4 Intel Core 2 Duo P7450 4096 500 Windows 7 Tri-Format DVD DL g VGA,HDMI
Zoostorm 3389-2410. This 15.6-inch laptop is powered by an Intel Core 2 Duo processor,with an integrated Intel graphics card. Weights start at 2.7kg,prices start at 480
Zoostorm 3389-2410 480 2.7 15.6 Intel Core 2 Duo T6600 3072 320 Windows 7 Tri-Format DVD DL g VGA
rOCK www.rockdirect.com
Xtreme 790. This 17-inch gaming system is powered by Intel's Core i7 processor,with 3D capabilities courtesy of a nVidia chip. Weights start at a lap-crushing 5.2kg,with prices starting at 1999
Xtreme 790 1999 5.2 17 Intel Core i7 920 6144 250 Windows 7 Dual-Format DVD DL n DVI,HDMI
sAMsuNG www.samsung.com/uk
N Series. The bulk of Samsung's netbook range,the N-series,come with a broad variety of screen sizes and designs. All are powered by either an Intel Atom or Via Nano U2250 processor with graphics provided
N220 329 1.4 10.1 Intel Atom N450 1024 250 Windows 7 No n VGA
NB30 309 1.3 10.1 Intel Atom N450 1024 250 Windows 7 No n VGA
Q320. This 13.4-inch laptop is powered by an Intel Core 2 Duo processor with an nVidia G105M GPU providing the graphics. Weights start at 2.2kg,while prices start at 657
Q320 599 2.2 13.4 IntelPentiumDual-CoreT4200 4096 500 Windows 7 Tri-Format DVD DL a/n VGA,HDMI
R530. This 15.6-inch machine is powered by an Intel Core i3 CPU,with an integrated graphics card providing 3D capabilities. Weights start at 2.4kg,prices at 475
R530 475 2.4 15.6 IntelCorei3330M 3072 320 Windows 7 Tri-Format DVD DL n VGA,HDMI
R580. This 15.6-inch machine is powered by an Intel Core i3 processor,with an nVidia GeForce 310M providing decent 3D performance. Weights start at 2.6kg,prices at 689
R580 689 2.6 15.6 Intel Core i5 430M 4096 500 Windows 7 Tri-Format DVD DL n VGA,HDMI
R720. These large 17.3-inch laptops are powered by either an Intel Pentium or Core 2 Duo processor,with an ATi Mobility Radeon HD 4330 providing the graphical power. Weights start at only 3kg,with prices at 599
R720 799 3 17.3 Intel Core 2 Duo P7450 4096 500 Windows7 Blu-Ray (Read) n VGA,HDMI
R780. These 17.3-inch Blu-ray laptops are powered by an Intel Core i5 processor,with a powerful nVidia GeForce GT 330M providing impressive graphical capabilities. Weight starts at only 2.9kg,with prices at 799
R780 799 2.9 17.3 Intel Core i5 430M 4096 500 Windows7 Blu-ray (Read) n VGA,HDMI
X-Series. These laptops come in screen sizes ranging from 11.6 to 15.6 inches in size. The series features a range of CULV Intel processors and graphics chips,with the X460 boasting a dedicated nVidia GPU.
X120 499 1.4 11.6 Intel Core 2 Duo SU4100 3072 250 Windows7 No g VGA,HDMI
sONy www.sony.co.uk
VAIO E Series. These laptops come in a range of sizes and are powered either by an Intel Core i3 or i5 processor,with graphics provided by ATi chips. Weights start at 2.6kg,with prices at 530
VAIO VPCEB1SOE/WI 649 2.6 15.5 Intel Core i3 330M 4096 500 Windows 7 Tri-Format DVD DL n VGA,HDMI
VAIO VPCEC2SOE/WI 799 3.1 17.3 Intel Core i5 430M 6144 500 Windows 7 Blu-ray (Write) n VGA,HDMI
VAIO VPCEC1M1E/WI 674 3.1 17.3 Intel Core i3 330M 4096 500 Windows 7 Tri-Format DVD DL n VGA,HDMI
VAIO VPCEB1Z0E/B 775 2.6 15.5 Intel Core i5 520M 4096 500 Windows 7 Blu-ray (Read) n VGA,HDMI
VAIO F Series. These 16.4-inch multimedia laptops are powered by Intel's latest Core range of processors. Graphics are handled by a powerful nVidia GT 330M. Weights start at 3kg,with prices at 894
VAIO VPCF11M1E/H 894 3 16.4 Intel Core i5 M520 4096 500 Windows 7 Blu-ray (Read) n VGA,HDMI
VAIO VPCF11Z1E/BI 1321 3.1 16.4 Intel Core i7 720QM 8192 500 Windows 7 Blu-ray (Read) n VGA,HDMI
VAIO M Series. This range of netbooks feature 10.1-inch screens and are powered by Intel Atom processors. Integrated GPUs provide basic graphics and there's no optical drive. Weights start at 1.4kg,with prices from 299

122 WHAT LAPTOP August 2010


buyers TAbLes

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BEST SUB-399 LAPTOP BEST SUB-599 LAPTOP


JULY 2010 JUNE 2010

ACER PACKARD BELL


ASPIRE 5810TG-354G32MN EASYNOTE TM86-GN-005UK
PRICE 399 RATING 8 PRICE 580 RATING 8
REVIEWED ISSUE 138 REVIEWED ISSUE 137
Despite average ofce By packing impressive power and
performance from its Core 2 features into its sleek and stylish
solo processor, the chassis, the TM86 is a great
stunning graphics, stylish addition to the Packard Bell
design and great usability range. A great battery life,
nudges it ahead of the high-speed connectivity and
competition. A great- unique features make it a
value laptop. worthy winner.

SUPPLIER www.saveonlaptops.co.uk SUPPLIER www.pcworld.co.uk


TELEPHONE 0121 260 0046 TELEPHONE 0844 561 0000
ADDITIONAL
COMMENTS
WARRANTY
STANDARD

REVIEWED
GRAPHICS

RATING
ISSuE

nVidia GeForce G 105M 1 yr C&R P&L 133 7 Not the most inspiring laptop to look at,but decent performance and features lurk beneath the surface

Intel GMA 4500M 1 yr C&R P&L 134 7 A great all-round performer which comes highly recommended

nVidia GeForce GTX 280M 3 yrs OSM P&L 133 7 The most powerful laptop we've seen,but it has its limitations

by an integrated Intel,Via GPU or a dedicated nVidia chip. None feature optical drives,but weights start as low as 1.2kg,with prices starting at 258
Intel GMA 3150 1 yr C&R P&L 137 7 Incredible battery life makes for a highly portable machine,with impressive usability and a strong display
Intel GMA 3150 1 yr C&R P&L 135 7 An excellent netbook that boasts rugged features to provide your data with extra protection

nVidia GeForce G105M 1 yr C&R P&L 133 8 A fantastic package which offers the Holy Trinity of power,portability and usability an excellent machine

Intel GMA 4500M 1 yr C&R P&L 139 7 A sturdy budget laptop powered by an excellent Core i3 CPU

nVidia GeForce 310M 1 yr C&R P&L 138 7 A very competitively priced machine that boasts real power and usability

ATi Mobility Radeon HD 4650 1 yr C&R P&L 134 8 Blu-ray support and great graphics make this a fantastic home media centre

nVidia GeForce GT 330M 1 yr RTB P&L 136 8 A cheap but powerful Blu-ray option
Not all models feature an optical drive. Weights start at 1.4kg and prices start at 499
Intel GMA 4500M 1 yr C&R P&L 132 7 A great ultraportable with a very competitive price tag

ATi Mobility Radeon HD 5470 1 yr C&R P&L 135 8 Sony has struck gold with this great all round laptop
ATi Mobility Radeon HD 5470 1 yr C&R P&L 139 7 Great usability as always,if only this laptop were stronger graphically
ATi Mobility Radeon HD 5470 1 yr C&R P&L 137 7 A very comfortable and usable multimedia laptop for the whole family
ATi Mobility Radeon HD 5470 1 yr C&R P&L 138 8 An excellent proposition with great performance and a wealth of features

nVidia GeForce GT 330M 1 yr C&R P&L 136 8 A powerful and feature-packed Blu-ray laptop
nVidia GeForce GT 330M 1 yr C&R P&L 137 8 An elegant machine with a glorious screen,ample power and great usability

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Over 40 models.
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August 2010 WHAT LAPTOP 123


BEST NETBOOK BEST INTEL CORE I7 LAPTOP
JUNE 2010 JUNE 2010

MSI HP
WIND U160 PAVILION DV7-3020EA
PRICE 330 RATING 8 PRICE 999 RATING 8
REVIEWED ISSUE 137 REVIEWED ISSUE 137
Aside from the unsightly Delivering fantastic
sticker collection MSI has performance and features at a
plastered across the palmrest, low price, the HP shows just how
this netbook has it all. accessible Intel Core i7
Fantastic usability courtesy of technology is. With a stunning
a great screen and keyboard, screen, great usability and
and a huge battery life for surprising mobility, it truly
all-day productivity. packs in everything.

SUPPLIER www.amazon.co.uk SUPPLIER www.laptopsdirect.co.uk


TELEPHONE N/A TELEPHONE 0844 412 4525
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MANuFACTurer
sONy (contd)
VAIO VPCM11M1E/W 299 1.4 10.1 Intel Atom N450 1024 250 Windows 7 No n VGA
VAIO NW Series. These laptops feature a fantastic 15.5-inch screen and are powered by Intel Core 2 Duo and Pentium processors. Graphical performance is courtesy of ATi or integrated Intel processors.
VAIO VGN-NW20EF/P 499 2.6 15.5 Intel Pentium T4300 3072 320 Windows 7 Tri-Format DVD DL n VGA
VAIO CW Series. These powerful 14-inch machines boast an Intel Core 2 Duo processor,with 3D capabilities courtesy of an nVidia GeForce GT 230M. Weights start at 2.3kg,while prices begin at 699
VAIO VPCCW1S1E/R 699 2.3 14 Intel Core 2 Duo P7450 4096 320 Windows7 Tri-Format DVD DL n VGA,HDMI
VAIO X Series. These tiny 11.1-inch screen laptops are powered by an Intel Atom processor,with graphics handled by an integrated Intel GMA 500. There's no room for an optical drive.
256
VAIO VPC-X11Z1E/X 1849 775g 11.1 Intel Atom Z550 2048 (SSD) Windows 7 No n VGA
VAIO Z Series. Z Series laptops are professional ultraportables with 13.1-inch screens. Powered by Intel processors,the graphics are handled by integrated Intel and dedicated nVidia GPUs. Weights start at 1.4kg and prices at 20
VAIO VGN-Z11Z9E/B 2041 1.4 14.1 Intel Core i7 620M 6144 256
(SSD) Windows 7 Tri-Format DVD DL n VGA,HDMI
TOsHIbA www.computers.toshiba.co.uk
These 10.1-inch netbooks are powered by an Intel Atom processor,with an integrated Intel GPU in place. There's no optical drive. Weights start at 1.4kg while prices start at 349
NB305-105 349 1.4 10.1 IntelAtomN450 1024 250 Windows 7 No n VGA
Portg R600. These ultraportable 12.1-inch laptops are powered by a range of Intel Core 2 Duo processors,with integrated graphics. Weights start at 820g,prices from 1526
Portg R600-13Z 1879 1 12.1 Intel Core 2 Duo SU9400 3072 128 Windows 7 Dual-Format DVD n VGA
(SSD)
128
Portg R600-149 1526 820g 12.1 Intel Core 2 Duo SU9400 3072 (SSD) Windows 7 No n VGA
Qosmio X500. These 18.4-inch multimedia machine are powered by Intel's Core i7 processor range,with powerful nVidia graphics cards providing decent performance. Weights start at 4.7kg,prices at 1327
Qosmio X500-10X 1327 4.7 18.4 Intel Core i7 720QM 4096 500 Windows 7 Blu-ray (Write) n VGA,HDMI
Satellite L450. These basic 15.6-inch laptops boast an Intel Celeron processor,with an Intel GMA 4500M handling graphical capabilities. Weights start at 2.7kg,prices at 349
Satellite L450-136 349 2.7 15.6 Intel Celeron 900 3072 160 Windows 7 Tri-Format DVD DL n VGA,HDMI
Satellite Pro L450. These 15.6-inch entry-level machines are powered by a range of Intel Celeron and Core 2 Duo processors. A range of Intel GMA graphics cards provide limited 3D performance.
Satellite Pro L450-13R 380 2.6 15.6 Intel Celeron 900 2048 250 Windows 7 Dual-Format DVD DL n VGA,HDMI
Satellite L555. This 17.4-inch desktop replacement system is powered by an Intel Core 2 Duo P7450,with graphics handled by a mid-range ATi Mobility Radeon HD 4650. Weights start at 3.1kg and prices start at 699
Satellite L555-10R 714 3.1 17.4 Intel Core 2 Duo P7450 4096 500 Windows 7 Tri-Format DVD DL n VGA,HDMI
Satellite P500. These large 18.4-inch multimedia machines are powered by a range of Intel Core processors,as well as an older Core 2 Duo processor. Graphics are handled by powerful nVidia options.
Satellite P500-12F 1021 4.3 18.4 Intel Core 2 Duo P8700 4096 500 Windows 7 Blu-ray (Write) n VGA,HDMI
Satellite U500. These 13.3-inch machines are powered by a range of Intel processors and come with a choice of integrated or dedicated graphics. Weights from 2.2kg,prices from 649
Satellite U500-1EX 821 2.5 13.3 Intel Core i3 M330 4096 320 Windows7 Tri-Format DVD DL n VGA,HDMI
VIeWsONIC www.viewsoniceurope.com
ViewBook. This 13.3-inch laptop is powered by a CULV Intel Core 2 Duo processor with an integrated GPU also on board. Weights start at 1.6kg,while prices start at 649
ViewBook 130 649 1.6 13.3 Intel Core 2 Duo SU7300 2048 320 Windows 7 No n VGA,HDMI
VNB101. This 10.1-inch netbook is powered by an Intel Atom processor with an Intel GMA 950 handling graphics. There's no optical drive. Weights start at 1.2kg,prices start at 329
VNB101 329 1.2 10.1 Intel Atom N280 1024 160 Windows XP No g VGA

124 WHAT LAPTOP August 2010


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Intel GMA 3150 1 yr RTB P&L 137 5 This netbook suffers from some unfortunate design aws,and there's better out there to be had
Weights start at 2.6kg,prices start at 499
Intel GMA 4500M 1 yr RTB P&L 134 7 Great everyday performance and battery life at a competitive price it looks great too

nVidia GeForce GT 230M 1 yr RTB P&L 132 8 A fantastic all-rounder that's ideal for the home,ofce and commute alike
Weights start at a featherlight 775g,with prices starting at 1200
Intel GMA 500 2 yrs C&R P&L 135 7 A miracle of engineering,but ultimately there's very little performance on offer
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nVidiaGeForceGT330M/IntelGMAHD 2 yrs C&R P&L 136 9 A stunning ultraportable and the benchmark of high-end mobile computing

Intel GMA 3150 1 yr C&R P&L 137 6 Flawed usability hampers this netbook,despite some impressive features

Intel GMA 4500MHD 1 yr OS NBD P&L 135 8 The performance and features crammed into this tiny chassis are phenomenal

Intel GMA 4500M 1 yr C&R P&L 139 8 A staggering lightweight machine,awed only by limited battery and features

nVidia GeForce GTS 250M 1 yr C&R P&L 137 8 A high-powered multimedia machine,but lacks the gaming power we expected

Intel GMA 4500M 1 yr C&R P&L 133 7 A great laptop for the home or ofce,with high speed Wi-Fi and great performance
Weights start at 2.6kg and prices start at 380
Intel GMA 4500M 1 yr C&R P&L 136 6 A usable machine,but there's better around

ATi Mobility Radeon HD 4650 1 yr C&R P&L 134 7 A likeable entry-level media centre that's a great choice for family use
Weights start at 4.3kg,with prices at 849
nVidia GeForce GT 230M 1 yr C&R P&L 136 7 A usable machine,but only if your performance requirements are basic

Intel GMA HD 1 yr C&R P&L 137 7 A feature-packed touchscreen laptop awed by a poor keyboard and battery

Intel GMA 4500M 2 yrs C&R P&L 135 7 A well-made and highly usable CULV machine with a stunning LED screen

Intel GMA 950 1 yr C&R P&L 130 4 Decent build quality,but a poor battery life and hazy screen make this netbook hard to recommend

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130 WHAT LAPTOP August 2010
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