Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Case for the Low Cost Laptop

These days when I think about laptops, I think cheap. A decade ago, I was willing to pay a small premium just to buy a laptop. Three years ago, I was willing to pay a premium for ultra thin and light. As a testament to progress, for the typical user, the days even the cheapest laptops in the marker will do. 

The new personal computer ecosystem. Why cheap? Well, the laptop is no longer the center of our computing experience, but rather now forms part of a larger ecosystem. You really, really must have a smartphone on a data plan. It really will change the way you think of the Internet and your concept of what is a personal computing. You should really, really get your phone from a carrier. Getting a top class smartphone on a data plan will set you back Php1,500 to Php2,500 a month for two years. That is a Php36,000 or Php60,000 investment. But that gets you a top notch device with a retail price between Php20,000 to Php38,000, and a plan to make it really useful. After two years, progress in technology and battery wear and tear will compel you to buy a new one.

You should also consider getting a tablet. Tablet apps tend to be cheaper than Windows and Mac OS X desktop applications, so a tablet is a cheap way of getting some really powerful apps like Adobe Photoshop, or entertainment related apps, like games. Moving your photo editing tasks and gaming habit from your PC to a tablet could save a great deal of money in the long run. A good tablet could set you back as little as Php4,000 to as much as Php45,000. A tablet is also only good for two years or so.

Basically, having spent, or committed to spend, Php40,000 to Php105,000 over a period of two years for a smartphone and a tablet, I really do not want to spend all that much on a laptop. 

The cheap laptop is pretty decent. A good low cost 11.6-inch laptop these days will weigh in at just over three pounds, and some 14-inch laptops come in at about four pounds. These are not the 5-6 pound "thin-and-light" laptops from a few years back, which were not very thin, and more importantly, not all that light. 

To keep prices down, I would skip the touchscreen for now. While Windows 8 is optimized for the touchscreen, if you get a traditional laptop form factor, you really wont be using the touchscreen. Touch is better reserve to more expensive Windows 8 hybrid devices, which are priced at a level that make me think I am better of getting a dedicated tablet and a cheap laptop.

Also as a consideration to keeping costs and weight down, I would give up all day computing. Presumably, you would share computing time between your smartphone and tablet, as well as a laptop, so laptop battery life is less important. 

My recommendations.  Looking at the locally available 11-inch laptops, I like the 11.6-inch Acer Aspire V5 priced at Php18,900 with a Windows 8 license. 


The new V5 is build better than the older Acer 11-inch offering, notably having less flex on the keyboard. The main reason for selecting this model, is I much prefer the Intel Celeron 1007U processor over the AMD E2-1800 and 2000's you find in the competing 11-inch laptops which are priced higher. 

On the larger units, I prefer the 14-inch Samsung Series 3 NP370


Priced a Php22,900 with a Windows 8 license, it is nicely built, comes under 4 pounds, and has a decently large 3780 mAh battery.  

With your computing needs, or habit, now spanning three devices, I would think most of us would not be willing to spend as much on our next laptop upgrade.

2 comments:

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