Senin, 19 September 2011

Best budget utraportable? The Samsung Series 3 NP305U1A-A02

Characteristics of a good ultraportable. Last year our favorite low cost ultraportable laptop was the Intel Core i3 version Acer Aspire TimelimeX 1830T. We like this a lot, because its 11.6-inch screen and keyboard are big enough to comfortably do productive work. Weighing in at just 3-pounds with a 6-cell battery it is light enough for something to be carried around daily while providing more than 6 hours of real world battery life. We also appreciated that fact that at a price of a bit over Php30,000 it was not too expensive. 

A low price is important for us insofar as an ultraportable laptop is concerned. While out office bound desktop replacements last for years (this article is being typed on a four year old HP Compaq 6510b which has never had any repairs made on it), our daily carry machine are replaced every year or two. Being carried around daily, they are more prone to damage from accidents, wear and tear from being lugged around in a sleeve or bag the whole day, and also are more prone to loss.

For a daily carry machine we recommend something inexpensive.

From Intel Core to AMD Fusion. When the AMD Fusion was announced at the end of last year, I was really excited about it. It is not as fast as even the slowest Intel Core i3 system, but it is fast enough, certainly much faster than any Intel Atom based system. And it should result in lower priced options.

While Intel love to markets the speed of its processors, for a desktop replacement or larger laptop used to play games, encode video or music and other intensive tasks I do appreciate the power.
But for a small ultraportable which I will use to edit documents, check my mail browse the web and maybe at most kill time with watching a movie or playing a casual game while traveling for work, do I really need all that power.

The AMD Fusion platform brought the price down from what we considered a good low cost ultraportable from a bit over 30K to a bit over 20K.

HP DM1z (HP Pavilion DM1-3016AU and DM1-3205AU). We were hoping that Acer would release a E-350 AMD Fusion version of their Acer Aspire TimelimeX 1830T but that did not happen. Acer did release a AMD Fusion power Acer AO722, but with the lower powered C-50 and C-60 AMD Fusion APU's at a price that made other options look better.

Ultimately, the best local option for a budget ultraportable for the past seven months has been HP's DM1z. But I think we may have a new king.

Samsung Series 3 NP305U1A-A02. Initially, I was concerned about the keyboard of the Samsung Series 3 NP305U1A-A02. With a 1.65GHz dual core processor and Radeon 6320* graphics and 2GB of RAM it has enough power for what I would normally need from an ultraportable. Storage at 500GB is sufficient and it has all the modern features you would expect like HDMI. All that is missing is USB 3.0. All this in a near MacBook Air like 2.7 pounds and much lighter than the 3.4 pound HP DM1z.

*The spec's sheet we saw says Radeon 6310, but being an AMD E-450 I think that may be an error.

The price of Php23,900 is a very good price for this unit, and that is on 12 months deferred payment. On cash or straight credit card payment, you should be able to get another 2-3K off the price.
Being smaller than you typical 11.6-inch laptop being 10.9 x 7.7 x 1.1 inches as compared to the more typically sized is smaller than the  HP DM1z'a is a bigger 11.4 x 8.4 x 1.2 inches, I was worried it might feel to cramped. After getting a close look at Samsung's NP305U1A-A02, the Samsung NP305U1A-A02 keyboard is fine in terms of key spacing, but the keys are small even for an 11.6-inch laptop. I could work with it though.

The other area of concern is the 4-cell battery. It is a powerful 4-cell battery rated at 4000 mAh. Still the Samsung NP305U1A-A02 battery is weaker than the 6-cell units in the  Acer Aspire TimelineX 1830T (5,800 mAh) and HP DM1z (4,770 mAh), both of get over 6-hours of real world battery life. Feedback from users indicates that you can expect 4 hours of real world use from the Samsung Series 3 NP305U1A-A02.

I guess it had to have a chink in its armor. Still, it is my favorite budget ultraportable at the moment. But in the end, it is a matter of priorities, with the Samsung NP305U1A-A02 you get 0.7 pounds less weight than the HP DM1z, but also 770mAh less of precious juice.

Hopefully Samsung will offer an extended 6-8 cell battery for it in the future.

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