Packard Bell EasyNote TV
Packard Bell hasn’t bothered to update its web site recently, and only seems to be selling the EasyNote TV through Amazon at the moment, which makes it difficult to take a look before you break out your credit card. Fortunately, it’s not at all bad for the price – the casing feels quite sturdy, and the 1366 x 768 display provides a clear, colourful image for watching video or browsing through your photo library.
There’s an AMD A8-4500M processor with integrated Radeon HD 7640G graphics. This AMD chipset is pretty nifty, outperforming most of Intel's Core i offerings here and can cope with a little casual gaming too. The 4GB memory and 500GB hard disk give no cause for complaint and the battery life is quite respectable at around the four-hour mark. So long as you don't mind buy before you try, it's certainly worth considering. Oh, and in case you're wondering, it doesn't have a TV tuner, just an HDMI port so you can connect it up to your set for big screen viewing.
Reg Rating 75%
More info Packard Bell
Samsung Series 3 300E5A
Shop around and you'll notice that Samsung’s budget Series 3 laptop benefits from a recent price cut that brings it handily under the £400 mark. First impressions aren’t great though, as the plastic casing has a budget looks and feels to it. However, it does get the basics right, starting off with a welcome anti-glare coating on the 1366 x 768 screen.
Also on board is a 2.3GHz Core i3 processor, as well as a healthy 6GB memory and 500GB hard disk, which should be all you need for most routine computing tasks. Battery life is a respectable four hours, and the Series 3 weighs in at a modest 2.3kg, so not too hefty to lug around either. With a decent helping of RAM that will certainly aid performance and a screen that doesn't act like a mirror, this Samsung isn't a bad deal at all.
Reg Rating 80%
More info Samsung
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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.