If your budget is restricted this Christmas and you’re desperately looking for a laptop, rejoice as we’ve put together the ultimate list for you, one that packs a laptop to suit everyone’s taste with all of them costing less than £300.
The Novatech W12 is the first on our list and potentially the most impressive of them all. This is a ultra portable laptop (or Thin and Light) which means that it is slotted between a netbook and a full size laptop.
At £299.99, we were surprise to find that it is powered by a capable AMD Neo MV-40 clocked at 1.6GHz, which should be more powerful than equivalent Intel Atom processors. It sports 2GB RAM, a large 500GB hard disk drive and is equipped with an AMD ATI Radeon 1250 Mobile graphics module which is better than most other integrated solutions available at this price.
Novatech managed to cram in a 12.1 inch screen with a 1366×768 pixels resolution, that’s higher than what’s found on some 15.6-inch models.
Add in Wi-Fi, a 1.3Kg weight, a 1.3-megapixel webcam, a HDMI & VGA ports (yes!), three USB ports, an Ethernet Port, a card memory, Windows 7 Home Premium (not Starter) and you have a very cable laptop indeed.
Its only flaw is the lack of an optical drive; but that’s a necessary shortcoming given that it aims at a distinct audience which prefers portability to flexibility. The other unknown that could be an issue is the battery life and its capacity.
From the small to the mighty, we meet the eMachines G420 from Saveonlaptops, a clearance model. Available for £299.97, this laptop has a feature unseen at this price, a huge 17.3-inch screen capable of showing 1440×900 pixels.
The rest is pretty much standard; an AMD Sempron SL42 processor clocked at 2.1GHz with 512KB L2 cache, 1GB RAM, a 160GB hard disk drive, a DVD writer, a dedicated Geforce 9100M video card with 256MB memory.
Other features include a VGA port, four USB ports, a webcam, two speakers 802.11n Wi-Fi and, unsurprisingly, a full numeric keypad.
There are a few shortcomings to having a large screen though at such a budget price; corners have to be cut elsewhere (slower processor and less memory), it is quite heavy at 3.7kg, the battery life is less than stellar at 2.5 hours and because it is a clearance model, comes with Windows Vista Home Premium.
That said, if you are looking for a desktop replacement unit that can double as a capable second television set, the G420 is a potential candidate; oh and you get free BullGuard Internet security with it, a product worth £45.
Next on our shortlist is the HP G56-105SA, a great little back-to-basics laptop that carries a suggested retail price of £299 at Currys. You can get it for as little as £285 if you buy anything from Currys for a couple of pounds and then apply the voucher code 15POUND at check out. The HP G56-105SA is powered by an AMD V140 processor running at 2.3GHz with 512KB L2 cache.
This is essentially a rebadged Sempron model which should be enough for most tasks. There’s 2GB RAM, a 250GB hard disk drive, a DVD writer and an ATI Mobility Radeon HD4250 graphics module that uses system memory but is possibly the fastest integrated graphics solution on the market.
As expected, you get a 15.6-inch screen (HD LED HP BrightView Display) with a resolution of 1366×768 pixels, Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit, three USB ports, one VGA port, Wi-Fi, a 1.2-megapixel webcam, a 6-cell battery with a battery life of up to 6 hours.
As for most new laptop, this one comes with Microsoft Office Starter 2010 and a number of free applications. It is a shame though that the laptop doesn’t cme with a card reader or Bluetooth, but that would have raised the price beyond our limit.
The second HP machine that we chose which is also our second clearance model is the HP Pavilion dm1-1102sa, presented as an entertainment laptop. It costs £299 but can be had for £264 using the voucher code RUDOLPH during the checkout process.
It will prove to be a tough competitor to the Novatech model as it comes with an Intel Celeron SU2300 processor (1.2GHz, 1MB L2 cache) which uses Intel’s own Graphics Media Accelerator 4500MHD integrated video solution courtesy of the Intel 945GSE chipset.
The DM1-1102SA sports 2GB RAM, a vast 250GB hard disk drive (but no optical drive), a 11.6-inch BrightView LED screen capable of showing 1366×768 pixels. As you’d expect, it comes with a webcam, Wi-Fi and Windows 7 Home Premium.
But there are also a number of good surprises like a HDMI port, three USB ports, Bluetooth and a pair of Altec Lansing speakers all for less than 1.46Kg. HP has included one year pick-up and return warranty with an optional upgrade to three years accidental damage cover.
The fourth AMD-based laptop in our list is one from Toshiba, the C650D, which comes with a price tag of £299.99. We love the fact that it has 3GB RAM, this should be more than enough for most tasks. It is actually the first time that we see a laptop pitched at this price come with so much onboard memory.
Weighing only 2kg, It packs an AMD V120 processor running at 2.2GHz with 512KB cache combined with an ATI Radeon HD 4520 graphics module, a 250GB hard disk drive, a DVD writer, a card reader, Windows 7 Premium 64-bit, Wi-Fi, a 15.6-inch TruBrite display with a resolution of 1366×768 pixel and a pair of speakers.
It doesn’t have HDMI port, it has only two USB ports and its card reader only reads two formats. But you’d be hard pressed to get find a laptop with those specs for under £300.
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