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Check out these low-cost laptops!
July 15, 2005
With import duties on laptops falling and the government allowing those traveling abroad to buy and bring in a laptop duty free as passenger-baggage, computer firms have dramatically dropped prices to make them more affordable.
While Taiwanese firms like Via are now talking of offering a sub-Rs 25,000 laptop (based on a Via-chipset), the dealer network remains an issue. If Intel is your base level chip (though many say even rivals are pretty good), then a good idea is to move away from the Pentium fixation and look at Intel's other offering, Celeron, for low-cost laptop computing.
If price is the key, you could get hardly anything cheaper than this. Delhi-based Edge Solutions hawks Taiwanese computers (don't laugh: Taiwanese firms are the largest manufacturers of laptops in the world) at an amazing Rs 28,000, plus taxes.
For those who want to do word processing, see movies, and generally enjoy the Internet, it's the ideal product. The entry level M360C comes with an Intel Celeron chip, a 14.1 inch TFT screen, two built-in stereo speakers, a 256 MB RAM and a hard disk drive of 40GB. It also includes a one-year warranty.
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The company claims the product has a battery life of two and a half hours which might not be too much for many who are on the move, but is more than what low-priced laptops offered a year ago. It weighs 2.5 kg. The cost goes up by Rs 3,500 if you want to add in Microsoft Windows XP Home software -- you pay Rs 3,500 more for that genuine software.
Add another Rs 1,500 for the bag (no low-priced laptop firm gives a free carry bag). For the price conscious, it's a good deal, but if you feel comfortable with a big brand, especially when it comes to service support, you need to look elsewhere.
Our desi PC manufacturer Zenith Computers provides you an attractive option -- if you go by their ad on the net, the entry level "Executive" is on offer for a real smart price of Rs 31,999. But read the fine print.
That is what prompted me to check up with a Delhi dealer who said that the actual price would come to Rs 35,780 after adding in 4 per cent value added tax and Rs 2,500 for freight charges. Also in case you want to add in a genuine Microsoft XP operating system he said the price would come to around Rs 39,300.
Unlike the Edge, you get the newer 2.26 ghz Intel Pentium 4 processor, but it comes with a 128 MB RAM (lower than what the competitors offer) which is not adequate for those who want to watch movies.
It also has a DVD/CDRW combo drive, a 40GB hard disk, and a 14.1 inch TFT monitor which appears par for the course in most low-end models. The choice is paying for a brand with service centres across the country or going for a Taiwanese brand, which costs less but doesn't have as many service locations.
Acer's 2350 which costs Rs 30,200 (Rs 3,500 more for an XP operating system) offers you a mid-range option -- a brand name with a decent service network.
It comes with Intel's Celeron M chip, a 256 MB RAM, a 14.1 inch TFT-LCD monitor and a 40GB hard disk and DVD/CD-RW combo, has a reported battery life of two hours, and weighs 2.65 kg.
If you love a good bright screen, which is wider than most of the other laptops in the same range, try out the BenQ Joybook 2100E. With a 15-inch wide screen (the company claims it also is the brightest in the industry), it is ideal for gaming and seeing movies. Given that BenQ is the third largest TFT LCD monitor manufacturer in the globe, this is hardly surprising.
Like most other competitors, BenQ offers a Intel Celeron chip, a 256 RAM, a 40 GB hard drive -- the 3.5 hour reported battery life is a plus, though the weight is more at 2.85 kg. It cost Rs 34,999 plus taxes, and another Rs 3500 for an official XP kit in case you don't want the usual Linux most low-end laptops are fitted with nowadays.
Korean giant LG is known for its street-smart pricing, and so the GSC50 is priced at a reasonable Rs 36,000 plus taxes (the usual rules about paying for an official Windows XP apply). The 2.7 kg laptop comes with a standard 256 MB RAM, 40 GB disk space, DVD and CDRW combo drive, stereo speakers and batteries, which last for 5 hours (life's getting better!). Like BenQ, it offers a 15-inch screen, though the brightness is less than that of BenQ.
For those who still want to stick to the brands that they are used to in the desktop market, HP India has also dropped prices of its laptops. Compaq Presario M200 notebook PC, which is available in the stores for Rs 33,990 plus local taxes comes with a Intel Celeron M chip -- which most of the others also offer.Like BenQ you can enjoy a 15 inch monitor, and a 40 GB drive. But the product comes with a Linux operating system so you have to add in the cost of XP, another Rs 3,500 or thereabouts.