If you’re after a laptop for Christmas, you’ll find the right one at Dabs.com. We've compiled a list of five worthy models with a variety of features to suit all users. And with prices ranging from £230 to £783, including VAT and delivery, you’re bound to find the perfect present.
Toshiba’s NB250-107 is a ‘netbook’, doing away with features such as a DVD drive to make it smaller, lighter and more portable than a traditional laptop. This also means it comes with a far lower price tag of £230, but still packs more than enough resources for an everyday usage.
Like most other netbooks, it’s based on an Intel Atom N450 mobile processor clocked at 1.66GHz and 1GB RAM.
The netbook’s 10.1-inch TFT display has a standard resolution of 1024x600 pixels, and uses Toshiba's TruBrite technology to improve contrast, producing a crisp, bright image while preserving battery life (which is rated at 4.5 hours).
The Toshaiba also packs 802.11n Wi-Fi for speedy wireless connectivity, as well as an Ethernet port, VGA webcam, 5-in-1 memory card reader and VGA output so you can hook up an external display.
Sporting a glossy black finish and charcoal textured palm rest, the Toshiba is definitely a netbook to be seen with - and at 1.12Kg, the Toshiba is easily light enough to be carried around in a handbag.
But in spite of that light weight, the Toshiba boasts a few seriously heavyweight specs such as its hard disk. At 250GB, this is more than 50 per cent bigger than the 160GB models found in most rivals. It also boasts a full-size keyboard to make touch-typing easier, as well as three USB ports and the Windows 7 Starter operating system.
What it lacks in brute power, the Toshiba NB250-107 more than makes up for in style, portability and convenience - easily earning its place on our portable PC hotlist.
At just £320, the B550 is the most affordable laptop that Lenovo makes, but the Chinese manufacturer - which bought IBM’s Thinkpad brand - hasn't skimped on features. Far from it!
The B550 comes with a dual-core Intel Celeron T3100 clocked at 1.9GHz with 1MB L3 cache. The latest generation of Celeron processors have enjoyed a big performance boost over their predecessors, and are speedy enough for most tasks.
Backing it up, this laptop sports 2GB RAM, a big 320GB hard disk drive, a DVD writer and a 15.6-inch backlit TFT screen that can display 1366x768 pixels with a 16:9 aspect ratio.
The laptop uses Intel's GMA4500M graphics module, which is decent enough for everyday office work and web browsing. The machine’s large chassis means it even has room for a full numeric keypad.
Also included are a DVD writer, Windows 7 Home Premium, Wi-Fi, an integrated webcam and Lenovo's own proprietary OneKey rescue system, which allows users to quickly diagnose and remedy IT issues.
At 2.8kg, the B550's weight matches that of the average 15.6-inch laptop. However, we're pleasantly surprised by the quoted five hours battery life.
The B550 is a reliable, no-nonsense laptop that will match meet the needs of businesses, thanks to its easy-to-use manageability features.
Acer Aspire 5741
You’d be hard pressed to find a cheaper Core i3 laptop elsewhere. The Acer Aspire 5741 brings together some of the latest Intel technologies in an affordable package.
The laptop can be had for £419.99, and benefits from a powerful Intel Core i3-330M processor, clocked at 2.13GHz with 3MB L3 cache. It also includes Intel HD Graphics Dynamic Video Memory Technology 5.0, courtesy of the HM55 Express chipset.
And that's not all. Besides than the 3GB RAM, DVD writer and 320GB hard disk drive, there's a 15.6-inch WXGA LED LCD with Acer's own CineCrystal picture enhancing technology.
We liked the fact that there's a full numeric keypad, a 1.3-megapixel webcam, memory card reader and a 6-cell 4400mAh Li-Ion battery with an estimated battery life of four hours. The built-in Acer Nplify 802.11n Wi-Fi booster should help to speed wireless connections up, too.
At 2.6kg, the Acer is lighter than many similarly specced rivals, and includes HDMI as well as VGA connectors for hooking up external displays. It comes with 64-bit Windows 7 Home Premium, and a one-year international traveller's warranty.
Acer Aspire 5742
The other Acer Aspire model that makes it into our shortlist is the AS5742. This is a notch up on the 5741 and is available for £585.
For the extra money, you can look forward to some significant improvements, though.
The Aspire 5742 is based on a Core i5 processor, the i5-460M, clocked at 2.53GHz. It also comes complete with Intel's HD Graphics Dynamic Video Memory Technology 5.0 and 4GB RAM, a spacious 500GB hard disk drive, DVD writer, webcam, three USB ports and a 15.6-inch CineCrystal display for impressive visual performance.
The laptop’s Crystal Eye webcam packs a 1.3-megapixel resolution and comes with a handy built-in microphone, so you won't need to hold one every time you try videoconferencing.
Other notable features include a built-in memory card reader, a multi-gesture touchpad, HDMI display connector, the 64-bit version of Windows 7 Home Premium (essential to take full advantage of the machine’s 4GB memory), Wi-Fi and a full-size ‘FineTip’ keyboard with a separate numeric keypad.
Acer describes the 5742 laptop as "handsome" because of its mesh-patterned exterior, which helps to protect the machine against smudges and scratches - one of the more common complaints you’ll hear about laptops with glossy black finishes.
Sony VAIO S12C7E/B.AE1
If you’re after a professional business computer that's both portable and capable, and which doesn't cost you a fortune - look no further than the Sony VAIO S12C7E/B.AE1.
At a shade over £785, it doesn’t fall into the budget end of the spectrum - but you do get some rather spectacular specifications for the price. The Core i3-350M processor (clocked at 2.26GHz with 3MB L3 cache) should be powerful enough even for a bout of gaming.
Sony has also included 6GB RAM (yep, that’s 6GB!), filling out all of the available memory slots.
A built-in DVD writer and 500GB hard disk come as part of the package, as well as the usual assortment of connectors and ports.
These include Bluetooth, HDMI, three USB ports, Firewire, VGA, ExpressCard, gigabit Ethernet, audio ports, 802.11 Wi-Fi and even an integrated wireless 3G broadband modem, which removes the need for an additional external 3G dongle.
Given that impressive spec, the Sony VAIO S12C7E/B.AE1 surprisingly compact. It’s just slightly bigger than a sheet of A4 paper - though at 32mm, it’s a fair bit thicker. It weighs in at 2kg. The 13.3-inch screen is fairly standard (with a WXGA resolution and what Sony calls ‘Auto Luminance Control’), and is powered by an Nvidia GeForce 310M video card with 512MB dedicated memory.
There's also a memory card reader, VGA-resolution webcam, and keyboard with handy backlighting - extremely practical when doing night flights. The touchpad has a built in fingerprint reader for added security. Battery life is a solid enough 4.5 hours.
It’s all wrapped up in a durable magnesium alloy body and comes with Windows 7 Professional 64-bit operating system in - the perfect mix of practicality and luxury.
Among our laptop hotlist, you’re bound to find the perfect all-rounders for you. And with a little thought, it’s easy to make the most of it.
One convenient feature that most of of the machines on our list share is they come with Microsoft Office 2010 pre-installed, which means you only need to buy a product key card to activate it.
Also look for other extras such as laptop carrying bags, extended warranties, offsite storage services, security devices, a wireless mouse, or a mobile data plan if you want to access the net on the move. Check out our guide to working on the train for handy tips and tricks on making the most of your laptop while you’re out and about.