Laptops have become pretty much ubiquitous – they’ve already replaced desktops for most users, and even though tablets are trying to take over the market share, there’s no denying that a good laptop is better than a keyboardless tablet a lot of the times.
Nowadays is the best time to purchase a new laptop (aka netbook, Ultrabook – call them whatever you want), with buyers having an extraordinary number of choices, and prices being at their lowest. With that in mind, here are my top 10 picks for a laptop if you want it to be affordable and very portable:
Asus EEE PC X101Asus is the company that practically invented the netbook, and they still manufacture the best ultraportables, including tablets and Ultrabooks. The EEE PC X101 is their most affordable netbook, which also has a great build quality, very compact size and light weight, as well as decent hardware under the hood. The X101 runs Windows 7 or MeeGo, has a 10.1 inch display with a 1024×600 resolution, a dual core processor, 2 GB of RAM, 32 GB of onboard storage space, a web camera, Wifi N and Bluetooth – pretty much everything you need for work on the go.
MSI U180MSI is another large player on the netbook market – they’re well known for offering superior hardware specs at a very low price compared to the competition. The U180 is an affordable netbook with a long battery life that can run almost any program you’ll need. The device has a dual core Atom N2600 processor, 2 GB of RAM, a 10.1 inch display with a 1024×600 resolution, a webcam, integrated LAN port, HDMI, VGA and of course, Wifi N and Bluetooth 3.0 – it’s a very flexible little laptop that can be used for a wide variety of tasks and won’t break the bank, and in most of the cases, when considering buying cheap netbooks it is the second important factor after the hardware specifications of the specific device.
Asus VivoBook X202E (S200E)If you want something more powerful than an Atom processor, the Asus VivoBook X202E has got you covered. As its model number suggests, it’s a step up from the X101 – it’s got the same overall size and weight, but has a larger 11.6 inch display with a 1366×768 resolution and touch functionality, a Core i3 dual core processor, 4 GB of RAM, a large 500 GB hard drive and a slew of useful ports, including USB 3.0, HDMI out and an Ethernet jack. The X202E is all you need for serious work on the go, albeit it’s more expensive than the netbooks above.
Acer Aspire V5 11.6”Acer has a great Ultrabook that can rival the VivoBook X202E at a lower price – the 11.6 inch Aspire V5. This laptop is powered by AMD’s latest APU, which combines a decent processor (the dual core A6-1450) with a relatively powerful graphics card (the Radeon HD 8250) in one low power chip. The Aspire V5 also has a 11.6 inch touch screen with a 1366×768 resolution, 4GB of RAM, a 500 GB hard drive and all the ports that the Asus has, as well as a nice sleek and slim design (although it feels less premium due to the plastic shell as opposed to metal) at a lower price.
Lenovo IdeaPad S210Lenovo is well known for its sturdy and reliable business laptops, and they’ve transferred all that know how to their consumer line, as well. The IdeaPad S210 combines a well-built housing with a slim design and decent internal hardware in a high quality Ultrabook that anyone can afford. The S210 has a 11.6 inch touch-enabled display with a 1366×768 resolution, Intel’s Ivy Bridge Pentium 2127U dual core processor, 4 GB of RAM and 500 GB of storage, a sturdy matte housing and a scratch resistant glass on the screen, 2x USB ports, 1 Ethernet jack, HDMI out port, SD card reader, Wifi, Bluetooth and a 6 hour battery life – all for an unbeatable price!
HP TouchSmart 11zHP was a bit late to the Ultrabook party, but their offers are quite enticing. The TouchSmart 11z in particular is an affordable Ultrabook that packs some very good graphics performance thanks to the Radeon HD 8180 graphics adapter, and even though the AMD A4 dual core processor is not as fast as Intel’s Ivy Bridge Core processors, it still packs enough performance for most tasks, with the added benefit of consuming less power. The rest of the specs are respectable, as well – there’s the nice 11.6 inch touch screen with a 1366×768 resolution, 4 GB of RAM, a 320 GB hard drive, all the usual connectivity features you’d expect including Wifi, Bluetooth, USB, HDMI and Ethernet, and a long 7 hours battery life (and the laptop actually achieves that number in normal use!) at a very attractive price.
Samsung X303 ChromebookChromebooks are a newcomer to the laptop market, and while they’re definitely not for everyone, they do have some advantages over traditional netbooks and Ultrabooks – among them are the reduced size, lack of noise, a vastly increased battery life, lack of maintenance, better security and the tight integration with Google’s services. The X303 is a 11.6 inch Chromebook from Samsung that retails for a low price and can be a perfect choice for those who travel or simply find themselves working more in the browser than with traditional installed software (not that ChromeOS lacks apps – it has plenty of them). However, it’s not the best choice if you are constantly offline, since Chromebooks are best used when you have a constant (and desirably fast) Internet connection.
Samsung ATIV Book 4Another good product from Samsung is the ATIV Book 4 – a rather traditional laptop with a large 15.6 inch display, but a compact size and light weight nonetheless. The ATIV 4 has a 1366×768 resolution (but lacks a touch digitizer), an intel Core i3 dual core processor, 4 GB of RAM, 500 GB hard drive, SD card slot, USB 2.0 and 3.0 ports, Ethernet jack, Wifi N, Bluetooth 3.0, HDMI out and a decent 4.5 hours battery life – all at a price that’s comparable to the most affordable Ultrabooks – if you like large displays, this is a good reliable device to look at.
Sony VAIO Fit 15 (SVF 15)Sony’s VAIO laptops have always been known for their stylish design and reliability, and the latest SVF-series (aka VAIO Fit) is no different, even though it’s marketed as a budget series. The VAIO Fit 15 is a 15.5 inch laptop with a touch digitizer and a marvelous 1920×1080 resolution, Intel Core i5 processor and 4 GB of RAM, 500 GB of onboard storage space and all the standard ports and connectivity features you’d expect, including Wifi, Bluetooth, USB 3.0, HDMI, Ethernet and more. The laptop is more expensive than the models listed above, but for what you’re getting, it might be a worthy investment if you want great portability, a great screen and all the standard features in a compact, light housing.
Asus S-series S56CA UltrabookLast but not the least is Asus’ S series Ultrabook, the S56CA. It’s borderline affordable, but the features and ultra slim and light design may be worth it for those who travel a lot and value premium quality and specifications. The S56CA has an all metal housing that’s sturdy and slim, a 15.6 inch display with a 1366×768 resolution, an Intel Core i5 processor, 4 GB of RAM that is easily upgradeable with standard DDR3 sticks, 750 GB of storage space (also upgradeable, so you can install an SSD if you wish), a DVD drive (which can be replaced with another hard drive), Wifi N, Bluetooth, Ethernet, USB 3.0, HDMI out and a battery that lasts up to 5 hours, with support for 2 seconds Asus Instant On technology. It’s the most flexible laptop on the list, and if you want to use it for a long time, it’s a great choice to consider.
There are plenty of other products to choose from if you’re in the market for a new laptop, but I believe the above 10 to be the best when it comes to features, build quality, portability and price. Be sure to take a closer look at them before deciding what to buy!