Buyer's Guide: Santa Rosa notebooks

Which is our current favourite Intel Santa Rosa notebook? Check our Buyer's Guide to find out — and keep checking back to see if it changes.
Written by ZDNet UK, Contributor

Intel's new Santa Rosa mobile platform (notebooks can be branded either Centrino Duo or Centrino Pro, depending on the precise mix of components used) hasn't led to any immediate earth-shattering gains in either performance or battery life, although it's still early days. However, the new platform has resulted in some excellent business notebooks. We've reviewed four systems in the past month that are not only built for business, but also supply a smattering of features to continue serving you once the working day is done.

The first Santa Rosa notebook to reach ZDNet UK was the Acer TravelMate 6292, a chunky 2kg system that the company describes as 'ultraportable', which is stretching it a touch. However, it packs in a solid range of features and represents excellent value for money at £875 (ex. VAT). We have some issues, though: ideally there would be more USB ports — or failing that, the two vertically stacked ones would be separated; we’d also prefer the integrated webcam to swivel and the lid to have a catch mechanism.

Lenovo has rolled out two new ThinkPad models: the R61 and the T61 in the higher-end ThinkPad T series.

The 14.1in. ThinkPad R61 includes all the important parts of Intel's revamped Centrino Duo platform, including the new Core 2 Duo T7500 CPU, extra onboard Turbo Memory (for boosting access times) and 802.11n (Draft-N) Wi-Fi. It's still the same black, boxy ThinkPad you've come to know and perhaps love, but Lenovo has started to add more mainstream features such as webcams and optional Blu-ray drives for those who want one notebook for both work and play.

The ThinkPad T61 is comfortably familiar yet redesigned; its overall appearance isn't too removed from the tried-and-true ThinkPad design, but it now supplies a wide-screen display plus a new internal roll cage and composite cover that the company says will improve Wi-Fi reception. The ThinkPad T61 serves up a host of updated components and its usual comfortable keyboard along with some extra features such as optional webcams and media card readers.

Our current favourite is Dell's new Latitude D630, which won an Editors' Choice award for its strong mix of performance and features. It's also one of the sturdiest notebooks we've tested. With its current components and tough chassis, this is one notebook that's well equipped to stand the test of time.

There are plenty more Centrino Duo/Pro notebooks to come, so keep checking back to this buyer's guide, and we'll keep you updated on the best examples out there.


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