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Check out these great laptops

September 12, 2006 14:49 IST
Lenovo and Sony Vaio are setting the trend for widescreen notebooks.

A 15.4" hi-definition widescreen on a notebook would do justice to all multimedia applications -- for instance, watching a movie. It lets one view a minimum of 25 per cent more onscreen data -- approximately four extra columns on a typical spreadsheet. Not to forget better-spaced keyboards and more shortcut keys for multimedia functions.

Lenovo 3000 Y 100: It's a real tough-looking, entertainment machine. It's the first Lenovo notebook, says the manufacturer, with a TV tuner card and PowerCinema feature. These features let users watch TV and record programmes, shift programme time, auto-record and view in multi-screens.

It comes with an 'Instant On' feature that allows playing MP3s, music CDs and DVDs or look at digital photos without having to boot Windows.

It's powered by a Pentium (Intel) processor (1.73 GHz), 512 MB RAM and a 60 GB hard drive. The DVD burner, media-card reader and add-ons in the form dedicated multimedia keys to launch movies and music applications and FireWire ports complete the package. The icing on the cake is the 4-hour battery life, which ensures you can watch a complete DVD without going blank. The Lenovo 3000 Y100 also has an integrated 802.11/b/g wireless LAN, a 10/100 ethernet adapter, built-in 56 kbps modem and Bluetooth 2.0 connectivity. However, it lacks an integrated webcam.

Lenovo 3000 Y100 (8825 12Q) is priced at Rs 59, 490 and the Lenovo 3000 Y100 (8825 11Q) is priced at Rs 39, 240 (taxes extra). The prices make this a machine aimed at users with limited budgets (but with unlimited demands). But... Lenovo has built a machine that weighs 2.9 kgs, which is not exactly a mobile notebook for the users. When you spend so much money on a notebook, you expect it to look classy. Why wrap up this
notebook in a sedate and serious looking case, considering the plethora of hip 'n' happening multimedia features it sports under the hood?

Sony Vaio SZ series: It stands in marked contrast to Lenovo. Encased in a carbon fibre body, the machine's a looker with its distinctive styling and finish. The palm rest and keypad
area seems to have a brushed aluminium finish that gives great aesthetic appeal.

There are a total of five switches located above the keyboard, namely two shortcut switches (a wireless on/off switch, power button and the graphics switch). The LCD comes with LED backlight technology, and as a result Vaio manages a thin screen and lid. This not only helps to reducing the weight (weighs 1.69 kg) but also lends a great look to the product.

The 1280 x 800 resolution works well on the 13.3" screen (couple of inches smaller than the Lenovo screen). Backed by Intel Core Duo Processor (1.83GHz), 512 MB RAM 80 GB hard disk, Vaio runs multiple applications like PhotoShop (a resource hogger), along with Internet browsing and spreadsheets without a glitch.

Interestingly, Sony Vaio comes with a 'Stamina Mode' that allows selection between the default Intel integrated graphics for daily use and an nVidia GeForce 7400 with 128 MB dedicated memory for maximum 3D or HD video performance.

Irritants It's a shame you cannot turn off WiFi/Bluetooth independently with the hardware switches. Besides, you need to restart the machine in order to switch between the two graphic displays, which is annoying but nevertheless an innovation that other laptops are yet to build.

Primarily, the default Intel chipset will suffice for daily usage. The nVidia chipset can be used in case you are a gamer and would prefer the best graphics your Vaio can deliver.

Fingerprint sensor, expresscard and  PCMCIA slots, a built-in Sony memory stick reader are thrown in too, but Sony should not have shunned the popular SD format to favour their own cards. The Vaio has only two USB ports. If you are using the nVidia graphics with wireless and Bluetooth on, you will get less than three hours battery life. But on
the Intel graphics with the wireless switched off, you will get four.

There's VGA out but no composite video for outputting to a TV, a major downside for a laptop that costs Rs 1,24,900.

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Priyanka Joshi in New Delhi
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