Here at FUD Central we like to hear from our readers and whenever we get interesting demands, we are more than happy to oblige. In past weeks we started receiving emails from readers who simply wanted to know which thin-and-light notebook to bring to the beach. Since much of the Mexican Gulf coast is drenched in BP’s vomit, taking a notebook to your holiday seems like a good idea.
As an IT professional I have to keep in touch even when I’m on holiday. I work for a major tech company, but most of the stuff we make is ridiculously overpriced and lacks some rather basic features. Also, I’m on a tight budget, so I need you to recommend a cheap and light notebook that won’t make people think I’m smug.
Cupertino, CA” (Yes, it's a TG ripoff, but nevermind. sub.ed.)
Joking aside, the thin-and-light notebook market is heavily contested, so there are quite a few interesting models to choose from. Many vendors loved the CULV concept of bringing cheap, thin and sleek notebooks to the masses. We also think Intel did a great job with the platform. Sadly, the market wasn’t as enthusiastic, so vendors are now stuck with large inventories of CULV-based notebooks and they’re not keen to introduce new models based on 32nm parts until they get rid of them.
This is a good thing, thanks to low demand vendors are now forced to slash prices and offer tempting deals for older models. Take the sleek Asus UX30 for example. It launched some nine months ago at €999, but Asus has cut the price to just €649. Needless to say, this is a very competitive price for a 13-incher weighing just 1.45kg. It features Intel’s dual-core SU7300 CPU, clocked at 1.3GHz and it packs 4GB of memory and 320GB of storage. The cons are its 3-cell Li-Poly battery and glare screen, which is a bad idea for any ultraportable. However, it's utterly gorgeous and measures just over 20mm at the waistline, making it one of the thinnest and best looking 13-inchers on the market in general.
In case you need a bit more screen acreage, Lenovo will be more than happy to sell you this 14-inch Ideapad U450P for just €399. It’s powered by a dual-core Pentium SU4100 at 1.3GHz and it has 3GB of memory, a 320GB hard drive and it weighs 2.1kg. It has a multitouch trackpad, but the trackpad buttons are horrid. It also packs a replaceable 4-cell battery and, again, the unavoidable glare screen. The 13-inch U350 is also worth looking into.
There are a few interesting deals in the 11.6-inch market as well, but most cheap models are powered by Intel’s Celeron 743, which really isn’t a very good choice for anyone apart from very undemanding consumers. Dell’s Inspiron 11z can be had for as little as €317, while Acer’s Aspire 1410 can be bought for about €330. Both feature just 1GB of memory and 160GB of storage and they’ll have a hard time coping with Flash video, something Steve surely needs.
As always, we recommend matte screens, but the choice of truly affordable thin-and-lights with matte screens is rather limited. Acer’s Travelmate 8371 series is a good choice and for about €500 you can get a proper dual-core SU7300 processor, 3 gigs of memory and 320GB of storage. Also, it has a 6-cell battery and weighs just 1.65kg.
For roughly €50 to €80 more you can get an entry level Dell Vostro V13 or HP ProBook 4320s. Both are a tad more stylish than the Acer, but don’t offer nearly the same value for money, as the entry level SKUs are poorly spec'd.
Lastly, Asus’ UL30A offers both style and value. The entry level matte screen SKU costs €599 and it features a SU7300 processor, 2GB of memory and 250GB hard drive. In return you get a mammoth 8-cell battery in a sleek aluminum chassis weighing 1.8kg. For €50 more you can get 4GB of memory and a 320GB hard drive. Frankly, the UL30A is an excellent choice. Although it costs a bit more than Acer’s Travelmate it has a beefier battery and it just looks a whole lot better, thanks to a touch of brushed aluminium and chiclet-style keyboard.
We hope we were helpful.