SMB: Notebook buying guide

In this round-up for small and medium businesses, we feature notebooks in several price bands -- and varying bells and whistles -- ranging from a little over AU$1,500 to just under AU$4,000 for business users who require high performance.

Buying a notebook on a budget is no mean feat.

While most small- to medium-sized businesses tend to be extremely price-sensitive when it comes to purchasing hardware (or even software), and increasingly, the needs of such users have become more demanding.

For instance, for those who spend a lot of time on the road, size and weight are the two most critical factors in choosing a new notebook -- even if it means sacrificing a little on performance and features.

If you belong to the another group known as "power users" -- those who rely on the same notebook at work, at home, and on the road -- you will need a well-balanced system, and it has to deliver the performance to keep up with a wide range of applications.

In this round-up for small and medium businesses, we feature notebooks in several price bands -- and varying bells and whistles -- ranging from a little over AU$1,500 to just under AU$4,000 for business users who require high performance.

 

Asus V1J

Asus V1J
Read review

Part of Asus' security-oriented laptop series, the V1J is A great all-round laptop with good security features.

Screen size: 15.4-inch
Processor speed: 1.8GHz
Memory: 1GB
Hard drive: 120GB
Dimensions (WxDxH): 331x 272 x 25.4 mm
Weight: 2.7kg
Graphics: Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 950
Price: AU$2999

 

Alienware Area-51 m5550

Alienware Area-51 m5550
Read review

The Core 2 Duo-based Alienware Area-51 m5550 can perform as well as larger, more expensive systems, but its short battery life means you won't be very mobile.

Screen size: 15.4-inch
Processor speed: 2.33GHz
Memory: 2GB
Hard drive: 100GB
Dimensions (WxDxH): 362x 273 x 34 mm
Weight: 2.7kg
Graphics: GeForce Go 7600
Price: AU$3805

 

Dell Latitude D420

Dell Latitude D420
Read review

The Dell Latitude D420's portability, power and ability to go online at any time from any location makes it perfect for road warriors.

Screen size: 12.1-inch
Processor speed: 1.2GHz
Memory: 1.2GB
Hard drive: 60GB
Dimensions (WxDxH): 295 x 210 x 25mm
Weight: 1.5kg
Graphics: Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 950
Price: AU$2,505

 

BenQ Joybook S61

BenQ Joybook S61
Read review

There's a lot to love about BenQ's ultra-portable media centre notebook, even if battery life isn't ideal.

Screen size: 12.1-inch
Processor speed: 1.66GHz
Memory: 512MB
Hard drive: 80GB
Dimensions (WxDxH): 303.75 x 222 x 27.5mm
Weight: 1.65kg
Graphics: Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 950
Price: AU$2499

 
 

Earlier models


HP Compaq Presario v3000

HP Compaq Presario v3000
Read review

An attractive multimedia notebook that won't break the bank.

Screen size: 14.1-inch
Processor speed: 1.6GHz or 1.8GHz
Memory: 2GB DDR2
Hard drive: Up to 100GB
Dimensions (WxDxH): 334 x 237 x 39mm
Weight: 2.4kg
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce Go 6150
Price: AU$1,699

 

Apple MacBook (2.0GHz, 13-inch, black)

Apple MacBook (2.0GHz, 13-inch, black)
Read review

With the MacBook, Apple has corrected a handful of the iBook's shortcomings, hit a reasonable price point, and delivered a laptop that makes a great compromise between size and portability.

Screen size: 13.3-inch (33.78 cm, diagonal)
Processor speed: 2GHz
Memory: 512MB 667 MHz DDR2 SDRAM
Hard drive: 80GB Serial ATA
Dimensions (WxDxH): 325 x 227 x 27 mm
Weight: 2.36kg
Graphics: Intel GMA 950 graphics processor
Price: AU$2,399

 

Acer TravelMate 3010

Acer TravelMate 3010
Read review

Acer's cheap and cheerful thin-and-light feels more like a high-end offering thanks to its stellar performance and battery life.

Screen size: 12.1-inch
Processor speed: 1.66GHz
Memory: 512MB DDR2-533
Hard drive: 80GB
Dimensions (WxDxH): 297.5 x 210 x 24.5/32.4 mm
Weight: 1.5kg
Graphics: Intel Integrated Graphics
Price: AU$2,699

 

Dell XPS M1210

Dell XPS M1210
Read review

Though its higher-end configurations are expensive, the Dell XPS M1210 should appeal to everyday users who want a relatively light but still full-featured Media Center computer.

Screen size: 12.1-inch
Processor speed: 1.66GHz
Memory: 1GB (4GB max) DDR II SDRAM
Hard drive: 60GB
Dimensions (WxDxH): 297 x 221 x 30 mm
Weight: 1.98kg
Graphics: NVidia GeForce Go 7400
Price: AU$2,698

 

ThinkPad R60

ThinkPad R60
Read review

Businesses seeking a sturdy, secure, portable workhorse should consider the ThinkPad R60.

Screen size: 15-inch
Processor speed: 1.83 GHz
Memory: 512 MB
Hard drive: 60GB
Dimensions (WxDxH): 332 x 269 x 40.2 mm
Weight: 3.1kg
Graphics: ATI Mobility Radeon X1300
Price: AU$2,699

 

Toshiba Portege M400

Toshiba Portege M400
Read review

Though inexpensive, the Portege M400 convertible tablet's middle-of-the-road performance and battery life may not be enough for the demanding business user. For basic tasks, however, it's a decent bargain.

Screen size: 12.1-inch
Processor speed: 1.66GHz
Memory: 128MB
Hard drive: 60GB 5400RPM
Dimensions (WxDxH): 294.64 x 248.92 x 38.1 mm
Weight: 2kg
Price: AU$3,190

 

Dell Inspiron 6400

Dell Inspiron 6400
Read review

The Inspiron 6400 is a desktop replacement notebook, offering up the familiar silver and white-accented design that's common to the Inspiron line. It's not exactly a stunner, but you certainly won't be ashamed to tote it around whilst in the public eye.

Screen size: 15.4-inch
Processor speed: Up to 2GHz
Memory: Up to 2GB DDR2-667 SDRAM
Hard drive: Up to 100GB
Dimensions (WxDxH): 356 x 265.5 x 38.7mm
Weight: 2.8kg
Graphics: Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 950
Price: AU$3,189

 

Sony VAIO VGN-TX27GP

Sony VAIO VGN-TX27GP
Read review

Our new favourite ultra-portable, the Sony VAIO VGN-TX27GP offers up a superb design, brilliant battery life and a great blend of multimedia features.

Screen size: 11.1-inch
Processor speed: 1.2GHz
Memory: 1G DDR2
Hard drive: 60GB
Dimensions (WxDxH): 272x195.1x28.5mm
Weight: 1.25kg
Graphics: Intel GMA 900
Price: AU$3,699