6 Entry-Level Laptops, What's Your Pick?

Entry-level laptops could range anywhere from about Rs 27,000 to Rs 40,000, and some even go higher depending on the features they offer. In this article we’re considering both, the price and the hardware used. In terms of hardware we’re considering laptops that use the new Intel Core i3 CPUs, and since these machines offer a better price-performance ratio, we'd rather use them in this segment instead of including the ULV category or the older Core 2 Duo laptop models.

Dell Inspiron 14R (Full review )

  • Price: Rs. 37,490
  • Weight: 2.7 kg
  • Screen size / resolution: 14-inch / 1366 x 768
  • Processor: Intel Core i3-330M, 2.13 GHz
  • RAM: 3 GB
  • Hard drive: 320 GB
  • Graphics: ATI Radeon HD 5470
  • Operating system: Windows 7 Home Basic

Starting from Rs 32,900, most Inspiron 14R variants are powered by the entry-level Intel Core i3 CPUs, starting with 2 GB RAM, a 320 GB hard drive, onboard Intel HD graphics, a 14-inch screen and Windows 7 Home Premium. Now, as you choose more RAM and hard drive room, the price increases. The fully loaded entry-level variant in this model features a discrete GPU (the ATI Radeon 5470) and finally there’s a mainstream variant with a Core i5 CPU, which costs Rs 41,900. All-in-all, it’s a good laptop model to consider, especially for aesthetics, if you’re looking for a sub-40K notebook.

Sony Vaio E
Sony VPC EB14 EN/BI

  • Price: 37,490
  • Weight: 2.7 kg
  • Screen size / resolution: 15.5-inch / 1366 x 768
  • Processor: Intel Core i3-330M, 2.13 GHz
  • RAM: 3 GB
  • Hard drive: 320 GB
  • Graphics: ATI Radeon HD 5470
  • Operating system: Windows 7 Home Basic

Speaking of sub-40K, Sony, with its latest Vaio E series, has something more to offer than they ever have, in terms of affordability and value for money. This stylish model features a decent GPU, an entry-level CPU, sufficient RAM, and ample screen space. The only possible downside is the weight, which is slightly on the higher side. Nevertheless, as a desktop replacement for home use, it’s pretty good.

Dell Vostro 3300

  • Price: Rs. 35,900
  • Weight: 1.94 kg
  • Screen size / resolution: 13-inch / 1366 x 768
  • Processor: Intel Core i3-350M, 2.26 GHz
  • RAM: 2 GB
  • Hard drive: 250 GB
  • Graphics: Intel GMA HD
  • Operating system: Windows 7 Home basic

One of the four variants of the Vostro 3300 is powered by an Intel Core i3 CPU, which is priced at Rs 35,900, and has onboard Intel HD graphics. Weighing about 1.94 kg (with the DVD writer), and with a 13-inch screen, a 250 GB hard drive and Intel HD graphics, we’d say it’s a very good pick at this price. Other variants of this model fall into the mainstream category with the Core i5 CPU and the highest model features discrete graphics (an Nvidia GeForce GT 310M). This entry-level variant is ideal for people who want an office laptop that isn’t heavy, and suffices for entry-level performance and daily office chores. Overall, it's a sweet deal!
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Acer Aspire 5740G (Full review)

  • Price: Rs. 37,594
  • Dimensions (WxHxD): 383 x 37 x 250 mm
  • Weight: 2.80 Kg
  • Processor: Intel Core i3 330M, 2.13 GHz
  • Memory: 4 GB DDR3
  • Hard disk: 320 GB
  • Screen size: 15.6-inch
  • Graphics: ATI Radeon HD 5470
  • Operating System: Windows 7 Home Premium
  • Connectivity: Gigabit Ethernet, Wi-Fi N

This is one of the best entry-level multimedia laptops that we’ve reviewed. While this one is a multimedia desktop replacement, another option (and a good one), is the new Aspire Timeline X4820T (Rs 38,000), which is much lighter in weight, slimmer and looks fantastic, way much better than the 4740 and 5740 series.

Here’s an excerpt from our review of the Aspire 5740G, ‘This laptop has a smart mix of features and hardware which not only controls the cost of the unit, but offers exactly what an entry-level home desktop replacement requires. So, we’d say it’s a very good pick!’

HP DV6-3004TU (WZ498PA)

  • Price: Rs. 35,429
  • Dimensions (WxHxD): 378 x 36 x 245 mm
  • Weight: 2.49 Kg
  • Processor: Intel Core i3 350M, 2.26 GHz
  • Memory: 2 GB DDR3
  • Hard disk: 320 GB
  • Screen size: 15.6-inch
  • Graphics: Intel HD
  • Operating System: Free DOS
  • Connectivity: Gigabit Ethernet, Wi-Fi N

Despite the absence of a Windows operating system and discrete graphics, we’d say that this laptop is a decent pick, mainly because its price is quite competent. Also, you have the option to choose from a number of variants available. The one with Windows 7 Home Premium and a 500 GB hard drive costs about Rs 41,143 and the one with an ATI Radeon HD 5650 (1GB) costs Rs 48,000. However, consider that, in this price, you can even get a Core i5 laptop, so it depends on whether you need more hard drive room, more RAM and discrete graphics, or more CPU power.

Lenovo Y560

  • Price: 46,340
  • Processor: Intel Core i3 350M, 2.26 GHz
  • Memory: 4 GB DDR3
  • Hard disk: 500 GB
  • Screen size: 15.6-inch
  • Graphics: ATI Radeon HD 5730 (1GB)
  • Operating System: Windows 7 Home Premium
  • Connectivity: Gigabit Ethernet, Wi-Fi N

The new Y460 and Y560 laptops have more to offer than the other laptops in this list, mainly in terms of functionality and user experience. Since the core hardware, such as the processor and RAM are slightly spruced up, especially the RAM and GPU, you can expect slightly better performance, and yes, the multimedia experience is certainly enthralling and worth that extra buck. Speaking of which, if you notice, all the laptops are priced quite similarly, except for this one, and for very good reason. It’s a full-fledged multimedia laptop, in terms of looks, features and performance.

Be it entry-level or higher, the cut-throat competition is quite evident, especially after looking at the similarity in the prices across brands. Ofcourse, what goes without saying is that, all the prices mentioned in this article are approximate, and will differ depending on where you buy your machine from. If a laptop goes a step higher in terms of features, aesthetics or functionality, take it for granted that you’ll be paying a premium for that particular trait.

Personal Take
If I were to buy one of these for office purposes, it would be the Dell Vostro 3300, hands down. It is comparatively light in weight, comes with a Windows OS, looks quite stylish, and basically, it offers a very good blend of functionality, performance, aesthetics and quality. The only reason I wouldn’t choose the Inspiron 14R is the overly glossy body, otherwise it’s a good machine. Yes, if you’re buying a multimedia desktop replacement, nothing beats the Lenovo Ideapad laptops, be it Y460 or Y560, but then you’re paying more, in which case, it’s a good idea to invest in a more powerful configuration, unless watching movies and casual computing is all you need.

So what’s your take? If there is some other laptop that you find better than any of these, do let us know in the comments section, and tell us what it is that makes you choose another laptop over these.


Published Date: Aug 26, 2010 09:39 am | Updated Date: Aug 26, 2010 09:39 am