Labs roundup: Sub $2500 Consumer notebooks: Introduction
Sixteen notebooks under $2500, we've separated the winners with the goods from the less impressive performers.
Well over a year since our last notebook roundup, we've seen a major shift in the focus of notebooks for the consumer end of the pricing scale. Where previously the sub $2500 price point attracted high power consuming desktop processors and large bulky form factor chassis, we've seen a move to slimmer, higher spec mobile notebooks with all the bells and whistles.
We put out the word we were conducting a roundup and stipulated units couldn't be over $2500. By targeting the consumer sector, we've tested and reviewed products which would be perfect for small to medium size businesses going into the new financial year with a little extra cash in the tin, students after something portable for lectures or home and those mobile users who are constantly on the move and need to keep up to date with productivity.
We were actually quite surprised by how much PC you can now pick up for a relatively small outlay, a few of the machines in our roundup offering ATI Mobility 9600 or 9700 graphics and while the chances are you aren't buying a notebook to game on, it's still nice to know you can fire up a fairly recent game and achieve a decent rate of play.
While the price cap we imposed on manufactures means you won't see the absolute fastest or highest featured notebooks available, we think you'll be as pleasantly surprised as we were when looking at the specs on some of these beasts.
The big reshuffle this year has been the move away from desktop processor laptops, echoing Intel's sidestep on clockspeed no longer the be-all-end-all when it comes to processor performance. Intel's Centrino platform and the introduction of Pentium M processors heralded a new age of notebook mobility, increasing battery life exponentially, running cooler and quieter - requiring less imposing CPU cooling solutions and paving the way for smaller, lighter 'books and integrated wireless connectivity. We here at PC Authority welcome the change, as consumers can now pick up much better notebooks in even the lowest price bracket. While you'll still need to make the decision on the trade off between ultra portability in low and ultra low voltage processors such as the Pentium M over larger formed more powerful desktop processors and mobile P4s, even in this class we're sure you'll find something you're interested in. Due to the time and space involved in testing notebooks, we had to limit it to a single unit per manufacturer, although many of the companies involved had several suitable models in the price range we had to draw the line somewhere. If you find a model available in this price category that we've missed and you think it deserves a look in for a stand alone review in a future issue, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know.
If you're hunting for a new notebook on a shoe-string budget, read on before you fork out for the latest greatest hardware.
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This Group Test appeared in the July, 2004 issue of PC & Tech Authority Magazine