Sony Vaio Z series
At 16mm thin, this laptop offers seven hours of battery life and significantly more computing power than even the most hardcore user is typically going to need. It crams a top-of-the-range Intel i7 processor into its tiny body, and can offer up to 512gb of solid-state memory. That means almost instant start-up.
Other features include fingerprint recognition, ultrafast data transfer via ‘Light Peak’ and a special dock that adds a DVD drive and can run up to four monitors from the machine (because you can, rather than because you’d need to).
It is tight-fisted of Sony to charge an extra £15 for backlighting on the keyboard, and getting this to really perform means a lot of optional extras. But the Z series is as good portable PCs currently get.
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Using VPCZ21V9E model:
Processor: Intel® Core™ i7-2620M 2.70GHz (with Turbo Boost up to 3.40GHz)
Memory: 8GB DDR3 1333Mhz SDRAM
Drive: 256GB SSD Flash memory
Screen: 33.2cm (13.1”) 1600x900px with wide (16:9) aspect ratio
Dimensions: approx. 210 x 16.65 x 330mm
Weight: approx. 1.18kg (with standard internal battery)
Price: from £1,434 (i5 processor)
At a starting price of £849, you get an impressive computer for your money – the new 11” MacBook Air is a netbook in form factor but a full-powered laptop in reality.
It zipped through whatever task I threw at it. It runs multiple applications on multiple desktops without slowing and flicks between them in an instant.
It doesn’t have a separate graphics card so it’s not a machine for the latest games but that isn’t really what you’d buy an 11” computer for. The SSD is one of the reasons for the computer’s blazing speed, and the accompanying thunderbolt port makes for ultra-fast data transfer. Battery life may be a disappointing five hours, but the new MacBook Air is compact, weighs only slightly more than a kilo, and yet it still has a full-sized, backlit keyboard and is packed with power. It could easily be your only computer.
Battery life Up to 5 hours
CD/DVD/Blu-ray Drive Available seperately
Dimensions H0.3/1.7 x W30 x D19.2cm
Hard drive 64GB of flash storage
Processor Intel Core i5 1.6GHz
Screen size 11.6"
Best of the rest:
With a 6.5 hour battery life and a quick charge time of 2-3 hours, this laptop is geared towards those constantly moving around. It’s stylish, with a gentle curving line rather than the usual flat keyboard unit. Although it’s not the most powerful available, the SF310 is well worth considering if you want something more individual than the average PC.
CPU type Core i5-460M
Optical drive DVD writer
Screen size 13.3 in.
Weight 2060 g
Size (WxHxD) 331x33x236 mm
Sony Vaio VPC-F21Z1E 3D Laptop
Do you really need a 3D laptop? The answer is almost certainly no. But this 3D Vaio is a decent machine if entertainment is vital to you. More likely, it’s a top desktop-replacement model that also offers huge power all round and a decent gimmick. Indeed, if you’re spending this much money on a laptop, as with a television, it seems sensible to get a 3D model.
Battery life 3 hours
CD/DVD/Blu-ray Drive Blu-ray Disc Drive with DVD SuperMulti
Dimensions H34-45.4 x W398.3 x D271.3mm
Hard drive 640GB
Processor Intel Core i7 2630QM 2.00Ghz with Turbo Boost up to 2.90
Screen size 16"
HP Envy 17-2101EA
Powerful, with an Intel i7 processor, this 17” Envy model also sounds excellent thanks to the audio by Beats. That means it’s likely to do everything you need it to, all on an ultrawide screen. With disappointing, 3.5 hour battery life, this is not, however, a machine for road warriors.
Battery life Up to 3.5 hours
CD/DVD/Blu-ray Drive CD/DVD±R/RW Double Layer with LightScribe labelling
Dimensions H3.87 x W41.6 x D27.5cm
Graphics card - video RAM 1GB
Hard drive 750GB
Processor Intel Quad Core i7 2630QM 2GHz with 2.90GHz Turbo Boost
Screen size 17.3"
Samsung Series 9
Samsung’s Series 9 is not as powerful as the Vaio Z Series, but it’s not as expensive and it’s arguably slightly nicer to look at. With an i5 processor, the recently upgraded Series 9 is adequate for most people’s needs. Perhaps not as light as most users expect, but you will struggle to find a better combination of performance and looks anywhere on the market.
Battery life Up to 7 hours
CD/DVD/Blu-ray Drive No
Dimensions H16.3 x W328 x D227mm
Hard drive 128GB (solid state)
Processor Intel Core i5 1.4GHz
Screen size 13.3"
Dell XPs 15z
If you want a laptop that looks like a MacBook Pro but runs Windows (effortlessly), this model’s for you. It looks almost as good as Apple’s most powerful laptops, and is a whisker thicker but a lot cheaper.
CPU type Core i7-2620M
Optical drive DVD writer
Screen size 15.6 in.
Weight 2510 g
Estimated battery life 8 hours
Size (WxHxD) 385x25x260 mm
Google’s first ‘Chromebook’ brings a whole new meaning to ‘netbook’ because literally all it runs is Google’s Chrome operating system, which is basically just the Chrome web browser. It has a limited amount of use if you’re not always online, ubt if everything you do, from docs to email to calendars, is all web-based, and you really value an eight-hour plus battery life, then the Chromebook is a top device. It’s also a taste of the future, although by then such devices will be thinner, lighter and cheaper, as well as better looking.
Samsung Series 5 model
CPU manufacturer Intel Atom N570
Available colours Silver, White
Screen size 12.1 in.
Weight 1500 g
Estimated battery life 8.5 hours
All-in-one computers pack everything you need into a single unit: screen, processor, hard disk are crammed into one elegant package, and they don’t come much more elegant than Apple’s current generation of iMacs.
These machines pack in quad-core processors and ‘Thunderbolt’ the ultra-fast interface that lets you transfer data faster than most users will ever need to. That means video or photo editing can take place without the tortuous waits that people have become used to on most machines.
Starting at £999, the iMac is as much a style statement as it is a computer. With the launch of Apple’s iCloud and increasing numbers of people with iPhones and iPads, older arguments about Mac v PC are evaporating. As the web becomes more important, it’s little wonder that Steve Jobs’ company is now the biggest in the world.
That’s not to say the iMac is perfect: cheaper models are available. But with its immaculate screen and wealth of upgrade options, it’s better than it has ever been.
Hard drive 500GB
Monitor 21.5 inch widescreen LED-backlit display
Processor 2.5GHz quad-core Intel Core i5
Sony Vaio VPC-J21M1E/B
Sony’s all-in-one does not have the power of the iMac, but it’s more than good enough for the vast majority of purposes. If you’re short on space and want a PC that can double up as a TV and entertainment centre, it’s a viable option. The real selling point, however, is its giant and responsive touchscreen.
Processor Intel Core i3 2310M 2.10GHz
Hard drive 500GB