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BW Businessworld

The Sleek & The Powerful

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Size zero may not be the universal measure of beauty. There are those — and a good many of them for that matter — who would clamour for a few extra pounds. Not so the case when it comes to electronic devices. Stuff such as PCs (particularly the monitors), smartphones, notebooks and netbooks are now as much lifestyle items as utility devices and, as such, need to look slim and trim. Laptops, for example, have come a long way from bulky machines weighing around 10 kg with average thickness of 1.5 inch, to lightweight gizmos with ultra-thin bezels that weigh in the region of 1 kg. In light of the consumer fetish for thin mobile personal computers, we check out the good, bad and ugly of five laptops that are both thin (less than 1-inch thick) and powerful.

Samsung Series 9
With a thickness of 0.64 inch and a weight of 1.3 kg, the 13.3-inch (screen-size, diagonally measured) Series 9 (NP900X3A) from Samsung is a worthy contender for the title of ‘Supermodel Laptop of the Year'. The duralumin casing makes it a brawny machine as do an Intel Core i5 processor and 4 GB DDR3 memory. Featuring 400-nit brightness, the high-definition LED display makes viewing possible even in direct sunlight — or that, at least, is what the Korean manufacturer claims. However, a price tag of $1,649.99 (Rs 74,870) makes it way too expensive, in fact, slightly more than even its more popular rival, the MacBook Air. Besides, its storage capacity (128GB solid-state drive) seems too little in today's age of terabyte-capacity personal storage.

Dell Vostro V130
The good thing about this 13.3-incher from Dell is that it is the first in its category to offer Hyperbaric Cooling, an Intel Advanced Cooling Technology, which helps it stay quiet and cool. The Vostro V130, with 0.65-inch thickness and weighing a mere 1.59 kg, looks sturdy: it is constructed from robust aluminium, and reinforced with zinc hinges and a magnesium alloy palm rest.

Featuring the power of the new Intel Core ULV processor, it runs on 4 GB DDR3 SDRAM and is equipped with a reasonable 320-GB hard disk drive. However, poor battery backup of just three hours cancels out many of the pros, rendering the laptop pretty much useless when not powered. The Vostro V130 is priced at Rs 37,290 on the Dell India website.

MacBook Air
Weighing just 1.06 kg and proudly flaunting its precision monolithic build, the 11-inch MacBook Air is one of the slimmest (0.68 inch) and prettiest laptops out there. But although a powerful NVIDIA GeForce graphics processor makes for superior graphics experience, a previous generation Intel Core 2 Duo processor and paltry storage (64 GB/128 GB flash storage) do not quite help the MacBook Air rise among its equals. Not surprisingly, this svelte beauty from Apple doesn't sport an optical drive, but this is offset by the unique DVD/CD sharing feature, which facilitates ‘borrowing' the optical drive of a nearby Mac or PC. The 64-GB variant comes at a price of Rs 60,900, while the 128-GB model retails for Rs 72,900.

LG Xnote P210
LG may not be your favourite brand for computers — especially considering it is yet to start selling laptops in India — but its new Xnote P210 has won the thinnest bezel title. Unveiled at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, the P210 fits a 12.5-inch screen into a unit measuring just 11.6 inches across! Coming with a clean, matte covering that makes it blend in with any setting, the laptop weighs only 1.3 kg and has a depth of 0.83 inch. On the configuration front, it boasts an Intel Core i3 or i5 ULV processor with up to 4 GB memory. There's a slight catch here, though. This Korean winner is available only in its home market, with a price tag of $1,135 (Rs 51,505).

Sony Vaio S Series
Like all things Sony Vaio, the 13.3-inch S Series (VPCSB19GG/B) is inordinately pricey and stunningly cute. Weighing 1.71 kg and measuring a bare thickness of 0.94 inch, the Vaio S Series is indeed a style gizmo. A second-generation Intel Core i7 processor raises the laptop on the awesomeness-meter while 4 GB memory and 256 GB SSD storage render operations fast and reliable for the travelling professional. But the improbable price of Rs 1,09,900, coupled with mediocre battery life, seriously dampens enthusiasm about it. Thankfully, unlike many of its slim rivals, the Vaio S Series sports a useful CD-DVD drive.

(This story was published in Businessworld Issue Dated 06-06-2011)