6 Best Laptops in 2011
The days when you had to compromise for road warrior hardware have passed, as today's laptops are a match for any common business task. Any self-respecting entrant will weigh less than six pounds and have a at least a dual-core processor, Wi-Fi, an optical read-write drive, a hard drive with more than 200 gigabytes of space, a memory card reader and a webcam that can broadcast a view of the top of your head while you're typing. (Do remember to look up and smile occasionally.)
But that does not mean they are all the same — and here we'll look at the top half-dozen.
For the top slot, we asked veteran PC industry analyst Rob Enderle for a nomination. "For business use, the Lenovo Thinkpad has long been the gold standard, and the T series is the best rounded in terms of size and performance," he said, pointing to the newly released T420, available with either a 14-inch and 15.6-inch screen. This unit claims to offer the long-sought full-working-shift battery with a 15-hour life, going to 30 hours with an extended-life battery. It also has features designed to facilitate voice calling and video conferencing. Prices start at just under $800.
For the next slot, the favorite laptop of TopTenReviews is the Dell Inspiron 14, noted for the power of its four-core processor. It has a 14-inch screen and a battery life of 6.5 hours. Prices start at about $750.
Coming in second on TopTenReviews is the slightly larger HP Compaq 6730b with a 15.4-inch screen and a 6-hour battery. It lacks a memory card reader. Prices start at a little under $900.
Next is the TopTenReviews list is the slim Sony VAIO SR series, with a 13.3-inch screen in a magnesium alloy shell that incorporates anti-shock features. It was recently superseded by the S series, with the same screen size and shell, a solid-state drive, and a Blu-ray drive. The battery life is 5.5 hours. Prices start at about $875.
Fifth is the Dell Inspiron 15 with a 15.6-inch display. With its customizable exterior color schemes, it appears to be aimed at the students, and that would explain the 3-hour battery life (i.e., long enough for class).It also has interesting anti-theft software based on facial recognition. Prices start a little under $400.
Enderle’s sixth pick (fifth in the TopTenReviews lineup) is the slim Apple Macbook with a 13.3-inch screen and a seven-hour battery life. It lacks a memory card reader. But if you want the Mac "Tiger" operating system, this is your laptop.
Enderle noted that anyone shopping for a laptop these days should not skimp, but should see it as in investment in a business tool that should last several years. But he recommends not paying extra for a large screen, such as 17-inch and even 19-inch models, as these are too heavy for easy carrying.
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