The price of laptops has generally been consistent for the past few years, with the least expensive units retailing for around Rs. 20,000. But the hardware inside has kept getting better and notebook PCs are now at a stage where for Rs. 30,000 or less, what you get is good enough for a lot of users.
These budget laptops are not for those who want to play the latest games, edit images or video, or even do many things at the same time. But if you want a device that runs your MS Office software, allows Internet browsing without hiccups, and has decent enough battery life so you don’t have to always rush for an outlet, then budget notebooks will fit your needs.
Of course, user needs might vary, but here’s a quick round-up of a few Windows laptops in this price range. If what you want doesn’t fit here, look for something with similar specifications in your budget at any online or brick-and-mortar retail store.
Acer E1-510 (with Pentium N3520 Quad-Core Processor)
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Price: Rs. 23,225 (500GB) | Rs. 24,358 (1TB)
The Acer E1-510 has been my go-to recommendation in the past few months for anyone looking for a laptop that costs less than Rs. 25,000. There are several models of the E1-510, so make sure you are buying the one with an Intel Pentium N3520 quad-core processor. For all practical purposes, CPUBoss says it has comparable performance to the dual-core Intel Core i3 3110m, but the N3520 consumes lesser power, so your battery life will be better. Plus, there’s a big screen (with an HDMI port for a secondary display), ample storage space, the latest Windows 8.1 operating system, and a full-size chiclet keyboard that’s wonderful to type on. If your budget allows for it, upgrade to 4GB RAM—there’s an unused memory slot you can use. But be warned, this is a heavy device that sacrifices easy portability.
Specs: 15.6-inch screen (1366×768 pixels) | 2.1GHz quad-core Intel Pentium N3520 processor | 2GB DDR3 RAM | Intel HD Graphics | 500GB/1TB HDD | Wi-Fi b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, Ethernet, HDMI, USB 3.0 + USB 2.0 ports, SD card reader | 8x DVD Writer | 4-cell Li-ion battery | 2.35kgs | Windows 8.1
Price: Rs. 28,000 (32GB)
Windows 8 is an operating system that was made to work well with tablets. The Asus Transformer Book T100 (read our review) is a 10-inch touchscreen tablet that can be docked into a keyboard to turn into a regular laptop. Yup, it’s two devices for the price of one—in fact, maybe even cheaper than the price of one. The build quality isn’t great, but it’s still portable. The performance isn’t great, but it’s fine for basic work, simple games, and internet browsing. You’ll get 3 hours of battery with the tablet, and another 3 hours with the keyboard attached. Plus, it is powered by a regular microUSB cable, which makes it perfect for an on-the-move professional who doesn’t want to carry too many wires.
Specs: 10.1-inch IPS touchscreen (1366×768 pixels) | 1.33GHz quad-core Intel Atom BayTrail | 2GB DDR3 RAM | 32GB internal memory, microSD card up to 64GB | Wi-Fi b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, HDMI, USB 3.0 | 2×2-cell Li-ion batteries | Windows 8.1
Dell Vostro 14 3445 (with AMD Radeon R5 M230)
Price: Rs. 29,000 approx
Big screen, dedicated graphics card, good processor, solid build quality, and a company with next-day on-site delivery promise—the Dell Vostro 14 3445 is a winner. It’s perfect for someone who isn’t comfortable with technology, but wants a computer that they can use for office work as well as some down time—especially for children who want to play games. Again, there are several models of the Vostro 14 3445, so you will have to stress on the specifications noted below when you go to buy it. If your salesman tries to sell you something else, insist on this model or walk out and buy it from e-retailers. The one downside of the Vostro is the battery life. It will last for about 4 hours of average usage, but then you will need to connect it to a charger.
Specs: 14-inch screen (1366×768 pixels) | 2GHz quad-core AMD A6-6310 processor | 4GB DDR3 RAM | 2GB AMD Radeon HD R5 M230 graphics card | 500GB HDD | Wi-Fi b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, Ethernet, HDMI, USB 3.0 + USB 2.0 ports, SD card reader | 8x DVD Writer | 4-cell Li-ion battery | 2.04kgs | Windows 8.1
All these choices give you a decent Windows notebook PC without breaking the bank. However, be warned that there is one constant issue in budget devices: you won’t get great battery life anywhere. Your only option is to use tips and tricks to extend your laptop’s battery.