The low-cost ‘A’ series of laptops is nowhere to be seen on Asus’ main web site, so you’ll have to track them down in high-street stores or other outlets. There are several models in the range, but the sweet spot here is the A54C, which features 2.2GHz Core i3 processor, 4GB memory and 500GB hard disk for just £350.
While it's not the brightest screen you'll find, it’s fine for watching videos and doing a spot of photo-editing, and the keyboard and trackpad are both comfortable to use. However, battery life is only around three hours, and it’s also pretty heavy at 2.6Kg.
Reg Rating 75%
More info Asus
If you’re on a really tight budget and merely need a basic PC for wordprocessing, email and web browsing, then the X501 should fit the bill. Designed as part of the Asus ‘back to school’ range, the X501 has an attractive black-and-white mottled casing that feels sturdy enough to cope with a few bumps during the school day.
It’s also lighter than most 15.6in laptops, as the omission of a DVD drive has allowed Asus to cut the weight down to just under 2kg. The 4GB memory and 500GB hard disk are perfectly respectable, but the dual-core AMD C60 processor only runs at 1GHz – which means that the X501 is more like an overgrown netbook, than a fully-featured laptop PC.
Reg Rating 65%
More info Asus
Next page: HP Pavilion G6-1301
My advice would be to rummage through the bargain bins at your local PC outlet (or virtually) and buy last year's model. There's very little difference in spec, and you should be able to get comparable performance for <<£300. Look for a 4GB system with a free memory slot - a 4GB SODIMM costs just over £10 and is generally the best and simplest performance boost.
Don't forget to reinstall your preferred OS to eliminate all the bloatware the manufacturers love to load these babies with. You really don't need a 6-month 'free' trial of McAfee AV.
Ultrabook = ultra profit. It's Intel trying to convince everyone to spend more.
Unless your wanting to play 3D games then even the cheapest new laptops you can buy these days will do the stuff most people want to do, internet, email, photo editiing, streaming videos, office, can even do video editing just not as fast as the more expensive laptops.
The comment about one of the laptops only having 3Gb of RAM? I am using a laptop with 'only' 2GB and i can't remember the last time i had a problem with low memory, even with thunderbird, libreoffice and firefox with about 10 tabs open
I find an SSD is the single most effective performance upgrade at work. I've got 1 and 2 GB RAM single core laptops that are outperforming £1K+ laptops simply by swapping the HD for an SSD.
Higher Quality Kit For Cheap
I also agree about the second hand laptop for kidlets going off to school. Given the condition of the machines that come through the door of our shop for emergency repair work through the school year on the weekend.
Better yet - make the kids pay for the machine and repairs out of their own money cause chances are your going to slop down the better part of tuition and boarding for them anyways.
Pick up something like an old stock or refurbished Acer TimelineX or Thinkpad X200 series on the cheap - toss in the cheapest SSD you can get your hands on, pick up a handflul of the back to school thumbdrives that float around for next to nothing and you'll have a fairly strong runner that you (or they) won't have to worry too much about.
Plus with a slighly older laptop you have a good idea of relability over time - tons of reviews - known bugs/design flaws - compaitibility with certain things.
If going to school is anything like back when I went - its all about the drinking and the ladies anyways then bashing out homework at a coffee shop on the morning it is due through the haze of a hangover or best case while still drunk.