Although more expensive than a desktop, laptops offer much more flexibility and with connectivity getting ever more flexible without offering poorer performance, unlike laptops of yesteryear. Whether you have wifi at home and prefer computer use in the back garden enjoying the sun, need to get that extra bit of work done of office commutes or like to surf on wifi offered by cafe's and pubs laptops are becoming an essential mobile accessory. Something that looks set to continue with mobile phone networks offering competitively priced mobile broadband as part of their contract plans. At Review Centre we have devised 5 categories of laptop and chosen the best of the bunch in each, below are our thoughts and why they're the best in their field!
The Sony Vaio range has been at the forefront of cutting edge computing for over a decade now, their first PVC desktops being produced in 1996. Unwilling to drop the pace, the SZ series has brought the Vaio range into the realms of new technologies, design and ergonomics. New screen technology, using a backlit XBRITE LCD screen, not only produces accurate colour reproduction but also saves power, a great feature for mobile use. Furthermore, the Vaio is equipped with two graphics cards, which it can "cold-switch" between to preserve battery life using an integrated Intel chip or enhance graphics using an nVidia chip. As well as power saving, security and durability are very important features for portable with piece of mind and Sony have invested a great deal of research into improving these. For security, fingerprint recognition software has been integrated into the laptop, and their Trusted Platform Module provides hardware based encryption should your hard disk need sensitive information protecting. To improve durability, Sony have employed construction technology used in aircraft and Formula One racing, with carbon fibre construction, 200% stronger and 30% lighter than conventional materials. Great for use in a busy environment where weight is an issue and the potential for knocks and drops is ever present. Of course, those same knocks and drops can cause data loss on most computers, but not on the VAIO SZ series, in which a device referred to as Hard Disk Drorotection Sensor, freezes your computer before it manages to hit the ground, safeguarding valuable data and reducing the risk of hours wasted having to re-do work. This selection of innovative technologies has made us choose the Sony VAIO SZ series the best portable laptop, when it comes to commuter computing, Sony have thought of everything!
When choosing the best gaming laptop, there really weren't any contenders that could match the Dell XPS M1710 for performance. Boasting the best graphics card on the market at time of production, the nVida GO 7900 GTX, with 512MG of memory, the XPS M1710, is so fast it's a viable alternative for a desktop. To compliment the graphics card the M1710 has an Intel Core Duo T2600 processor, designed for complex media and gaming. Of course, there's more to gaming than a graphics card and processor, and in the way that Sony have excelled for portability, Dell have excelled for gaming. The screen, a 17" WUXGA LCD widescreen with TrueLife technology and a resolution of 1920 x 1200, is 30% brighter than its predecessor and provides great contrast and colour, enriching the gaming experience. One real bugbear for all laptop owners, gamers or non-gamers are the poor quality speakers they're fitted with. The Dell XPS M1710 has done away with this long-standing issue with possibly the best audio set-up on a laptop yet, combining high-quality speakers with integrated sub-woofer. It's these qualities that have made Dell's XPS M1710, our choice for "Best Gaming Laptop." Unbeatable in performance with an elite visual and audio set-up the laptop gaming experience has never been so good.
Although the best value laptop isn't the most exciting of categories, it's extremely competitive and producing a laptop that's a cut above the rest really is an achievement. However, HP have excelled even further than that and created a whole range, the Compaq Presario range. Succeeding the Compaq Presario V series, the new F700, C700 and A900 possess a combination of features to give a whole host of budget buyers much to choose from. The real advantage of the Compaq Presario range, however, isn't the options available; it's how they're delivered. Due to the HP's experience in the market, components are high-quality, the keyboards have a great action, sockets are well placed, the design doesn't look budget and the build quality is sturdy. Very simple characteristics but the Compaq Presario gets them all right. The software package is impressive and the laptop is ready to use out of the box, with in-built set up instructions to guide you through additional software promotions, and advice on getting the best out of your chosen machine. The HP Compaq Presario range is our best value laptop, because some budget laptop retailers don't recognise the difference between something being great value and cheap.
Laptops have seen some very interesting designs in the last 6 months, mirroring the latest fashions in high-tech accessories market, with most manufacturers getting in on the act. However, they didn't amaze or inspire, they didn't force people to re-think, what is possible? Apple, never shy of doing just that, has created what they refer to as "thinnovation" in the Apple MacBook Air, an awe-inspiring laptop. While other manufacturers have been packing in all the performance they can taking advantage of whatever new technologies come about, the people at Apple have taken time to think, what do our users NEED. After all, a 200GB hard drive as featured on some laptops is not very useful when you're common fare is word processing, it costs money and takes up valuable space, so why have one? By thinking about the function and the form of their products, Apple have been able to make a notebook with dimensions of 0.16 inches at its thinnest and 0.76 inches at it's thickest. They've gained continuity in clean design and sleek lines by hiding port connections behind a magnetic latch cover, leaving only one visible. Great design is also something to experience, this laptop looks beautiful, elegant even, but it's also very tactile. It feels pleasing to handle it, whether you're sliding it out of your bag or resting it on your lap. The Apple MacBook Air is our best design laptop, because its everything design should be - innovative, aesthetically pleasing and a joy to use.
The best overall laptop is a dubious category if ever there was one, the best for who and why? Gamers, novices, designer, journalists, students, architects? Unfortunately, there isn't a best laptop for everyone that we could find, but there is the best overall laptop for nearly everyone. Gamers being the group that got left behind, tend to look for expensive graphics cards and the all round high performance needed for gaming, so laptops that would appeal to them are too expensive and unnecessarily high in performance for everyone. Businessmen may look for a wide range of software options, and some may just want a large hard disc for photo or MP3 storage.
The Dell Inspiron 1525 is the best overall laptop because of its unbeatable balance of features, customizable design and performance options. There are in fact 8 vibrant colour options to choose from, and unlike its predecessor the 1520, 4 new patterns as well. So, if you're red or dead, pretty in pink, or just happy with black, your laptop can be too. There is a choice of three screen sizes, 15.4" widescreen XGA with a resolution of 1280 x 800, the same again but with TrueLife technology or a higher resolution 1440 x 900 widescreen with TrueLife, RAM is customizable with a maximum of 4GB. Ready out of the box with Windows Vista Home Premium pre-installed the Inspiron 1525 comes with an office package featuring applications suited to a variety of needs.
The Dell Inspiron 1525 is the best overall laptop because the basic set-up is excellent but if it's not right for you, it can be customized to fit your needs much more closely.