Lightweight notebooks, also called ‘sub-notebooks,’ are becoming popular amongst mobile professionals and students. A smaller adaptation of regular laptops, these notebooks are much easier to carry around. Their light weight and small screen size help users gear up for a truly mobile lifestyle.
Essentially, lightweight notebooks can be classified into ultraportables and thin-and-light notebooks. Ultraportable notebooks have a screen size of 25.7 cm (10.1 inches) or 29.5 cm (11.6 inches), compared to thin-and-light notebooks’ 33.8 cm (13.3 inches) or 35.6 cm (14 inches). Weight is below 2 kg, and could be as little as 1 kg.
Lenovo, for instance, has come up with ultra-light notebooks under its ThinkPad X series. Ideal for ‘always-on-the-go’ profestionals, these notebooks weigh as little as 1.12 kg and have up to 12-hour battery life. Price starts from Rs 58,400.
Sony’s YB series notebooks have a 29.5cm display and weigh 1.46 kg. ASUS U36JC weighs 1.4 kg.
A light-weight notebook is a great choice for many, but it may not be the solution for everyone. It usually caters to that segment which is always ‘on the go’ and is in requirement of a wireless portable device. Designed with the needs of the traveler in mind, these notebooks are the perfect choice for businessmen, college students and others who travel frequently. These groups of people specifically look for long battery life, light weight and comfortable size of the notebook, which are neatly met by lightweight notebooks. Also, while not costing a fortune, they give you the benefit of a conventional laptop.
Depending on the specific needs of different users, the basic criteria for selection is as follows:
Students. If you are a student, you need a notebook that can be carried from class to class. So buy one that is small, low-power and affordable (costing Rs 16,000 to Rs 25,000).
Businessmen. Business travellers require a robust computing experience, a sturdy, rugged system to safeguard data, and access to security and management tools to satisfy the requirements of their IT departments. The cost of the notebook is not the prime concern for them.
Frequent travelers. For frequent travellers, the weight, battery life and cost of the notebook are important. Go for a notebook that has a long battery life and can simultaneously assist you in travelling light and safe.
Performance vis-à-vis regular laptop
A lightweight notebook is a balance between battery backup, mobility and performance. Because of smaller screen size, the battery consumption is lower and hence battery backup is longer (usually, six to seven hours) than a regular laptop. Some notebooks can have a battery life of up to ten hours.
Lightweight notebooks used to be costly earlier due to the fact that all key parts had to determine two major issues: size and thermal heat. Balancing both attracted higher costs. These issues were resolved by adopting a new low-voltage CPU which had lower power consumption and allowed manufacturers to design the notebook lighter with longer battery backup life.
There is no compromise on the performance. Acer’s 35.6cm Aspire timelineX 4820T is ultra-thin with less than 2.5cm thickness at the slimmest point and comes with an optical drive and Dolby certified speakers to give complete multimedia experience.
However, on a 25.7cm or 29.5cm notebook, optical disk drive is not available because of the small form factor. Also, it may not accommodate USB thumb drives.
Acer Aspire TimelineX (AS4820TG)
• CPU: Intel Core i5-480M processor (3 MB L3 cache, 2.63GHz)
• ATI 1GB dedicated graphics
• Hard Drive: 500 GB
• Memory: 3GB DDR3 RAM-1066 Mhz
• Display: 35.6cm (14-inch) HD
• Operating System: Windows 7 Home Premium
• Battery Life: 8 Hours
• Others: DVD Writer, 1.3-megapixel webcam, three USB ports, Dolby Stereo speakers
Price: Rs 44,499
Apple MacBook Air MC503LL/A
• CPU: 1.86GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 6MB shared L2 cache, 1066MHz system bus
• Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce 320M graphics processor with 256 MB of DDR3 SDRAM shared with main memory
• Storage: 128 GB of ἀash storage
• Memory: 2 GB of 1066MHz DDR3 SDRAM onboard (4GB maximum)
• Display: 33.8cm (13.3-inch) diagonal, LED-backlit glossy widescreen, 1440×900 resolution
• Dimensions: 32.5×22.7x(0.3-1.7) cm3
• Weight: 1.32 kg
• Others: Optional external USB MacBook Air SuperDrive (sold separately), Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR (Enhanced Data Rate) wireless technology, FaceTime camera, Mini DisplayPort output port with support for DVI, VGA, dual-link DVI and HDMI (requires adaptors, sold separately)
Price: Starts at Rs 79,900
• CPU: Intel Core i5 480M
• Video Graphics and Memory: NV GT310M 1G DDR3 VRAM
• Hard Drive: 500 GB, 5400 rpm
• Display: 33.8cm (13.3-inch) HD (1366×768)/16:9 LED backlight
• Operating System: Genuine Windows 7 Home Premium
• Battery Pack and Life: 8-cell, 5600mAh, 84 Wh
• Weight: 1.4 kg
• Others: 0.3MP Web camera
Price: Rs 55,299
Dell Vostro V-130
• CPU: Intel Core i5 processor
• Memory: 4 GB DDR3 SDRAM
• Display: 33.8cm (13.3-inch) WLED display
• Operating System: Windows 7
• Battery: 6-cell Li-ion (30Wh)
• Dimensions: 33x23x(1.6-1.9) cm3
• Starting Weight: 1.6 kg (with 6-cell battery)
• Others: Optional external 8X DVD+/-RW drive, integrated 2-megapixel webcam, 5-in-1 card reader, HDMI, Bluetooth v3.0
Price: Rs 37,290 onwards (as mentioned on the website)
HP Pavilion dm1 3014AU
• Accelerated Processor: AMD E-350 (1.6GHz, 1MB L2 cache), two cores with integrated GPU
• Video Graphics on APU: AMD Radeon HD 6310M
• Hard Drive: 320GB Serial ATA (150 MB/s at 7200 rpm)
• Memory: 2GB PC3 8500 DDR3 1066 (8533 MB/s)
• Display: 29.5cm (11.6-inch) LED backlit wide-screen, 1368×768 HD, 16:9 aspect ratio
• Operating System: Windows 7 Home Basic (64-bit)
• Battery: 6-cell Li-ion
• Dimensions: 29.2×21.5×2.1/3 cm3
• Weight: 1.6 kg
• Others: Three USB 2.0 ports, one HDMI v1.3b with HDCP key, Dolby Advanced audio
Price: Rs 25,000
Lenovo IdeaPad U260
• CPU: Intel Core i3-380UM (1.33GHz, 3MB cache)
• GPU: Intel GMA HD integrated graphics
• Hard Drive: 320GB HDD (5400 rpm)
• Memory: 4GB DDR3 1066MHz
• Display: 31.8cm (12.5-inch) HD LED
• Operating System: Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)
• Battery: 4-cell, 2.7A
• Dimensions: 31.8×20.4×1.8 cm3
• Weight: 1.35 kg
Price: Rs 44,990 plus
• CPU: 1.6GHz E-350 dual-core processor
• GPU: Radeon HD 6310 graphics
• Hard Drive: 320GB/500GB/640GB
• Memory: Up to 4 GB of RAM
• Display: 34cm (13.4-inch) LED-backlit with 1366×768 pixels
• Operating System: Genuine Windows 7 Home Premium or Basic operating system
• Battery Life: Up to 10 hours
• Dimensions: 32.4×22.7×2.3 cm3
• Weight: 1.4 kg
• Others: ECO Engine power-saving technology, DirectX 11 API support, 1.3MP Web camera, two Hi-Speed USB v2.0 ports, HDMI port, etc
Price: Rs 28,900
• CPU: Intel Core i5-2410M Processor 2.30GHz with Turbo Boost up to 2.90 Ghz
• Graphics Accelerator: AMD Radeon HD6470M (speed mode)/Intel HD Graphics 3000 (stamina mode)
• Hard Drive: 320 GBx4 (Serial ATA, 5400 rpm)
• Memory: 4 GB (4 GB x 1) DDR3 SDRAM (upgradeable up to 8 GB)
• Display: 33.8cm (13.3-inch) wide (WXGA: 1366×768) TFT colour display
• Operating System: Genuine Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit (English Version)
• Battery Life: Up to six hours with VGP-BPS24 Lithium-ion bundled battery
• Dimensions: 33.1×22.4×2.4 cm3
• Weight: 1.72 kg (including the supplied battery)
• Others: Dolby Home Theater technology, two Hi-Speed USB (USB 2.0) Type A connectors, SuperSpeed USB (USB 3.0) Type A connector, HDMI out, DVD SuperMulti Drive, etc
Price: Rs 56,990
When buying a lightweight notebook, keep the following points in mind:
1. Your needs
2. Weight of the notebook
3. Processing speed
4. Battery life
Select the notebook configuration based on your needs. The optimal configuration for a lightweight notebook is 25.4cm (10-inch) to 30.5cm (12-inch) screen size, at least 2GB RAM and 320GB hard drive. For professional applications and high-end gaming, fast processing speed is one of the key decision criteria. Long battery life matters if you are looking for all-day computing. Also, check the premium features you’ll get in return for the high price paid.
A thin-and-light notebook offers the optimal combination of portability, performance, features and cost. Power-tuned mobile processors deliver enough power to keep you working smoothly, and unlike ultraportables, most thin-and-light notebooks have a more reasonably sized keyboard and display, a larger hard drive and a built-in optical drive. No doubt, these are more expensive than slightly larger, heavier midsize laptops, but for maximum productivity in a portable package they are the best choice.
You can select a configuration suited for your needs as follows:
1. Weight: 1-2 kg
2. Thickness: Approximately 2.5 cm (1 inch)
3. Display: 27.9 to 35.6 cm (11 to 14 inches) diagonal, probably wide screen
4. Processor: Mid-range-to-fast dual-core processor. Intel Core i series recommended.
5. Hard drive: Up to 500 GB
6. RAM: 2-4 GB
7. Connectivity and networking: All the standard ports and connections, LAN, modem, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth (optional)
8. Battery life: Notebooks come with different types of batteries like four-cell, six-cell and eight-cell. For all-day computing, look for 10-hour battery backup.
9. Other things to note: Small keyboard and touch pad, combo CD-RW/DVD drives.
The author is executive editor at EFY