independent

Friday 18 April 2014

Laptops trump tablets when it comes to multi-tasking projects

ON THE MARKET: CLockwise from top left, Lenovo G500, Acer Aspire V5, Apple MacBook Pro and the Sony Vaoi Pro 11

WHILE laptops become an endangered species in our homes, they remain an indispensable tool for business people.

Tablets and 'phablets' may be great for light communication, but laptops trump them every time for multi-tasking, projects, presentations and word processing. With this in mind, here are three of the best business laptops you can get, and one to avoid.

Best for work and play

Apple MacBook Pro (from €1,250)

Apple's MacBook Pro is the Audi of laptops. If you can justify getting one for work, do. Its design and performance lead the market (regardless of whether you get the 13-inch, 15-inch or 17-inch model) while there's no lack of power, with 8GB of ram and core i7 processors available.

The machine comes in two flavours: the cheaper, disc-playing 'traditional' hard drive version or the solid-state drive model with higher-resolution ('retina') screen. However, for corporates, it's trickier to hook it in to remote company management systems, while Apple's operating system still does not run all of the business software that Windows does.

Best lightweight for business

Sony Vaio Pro 11 (from €1,000)

I'm a big fan of 11-inch laptops. I'm an even bigger fan of light, 11-inch laptops. Sony's Vaio Pro series certainly qualifies in this regard, with the 11-inch model weighing just 0.87kg (By comparison, an 11-inch MacBook Air, which is also a great machine, weighs 1.06kg).

If you travel a bit for work, you will appreciate the size and weight advantage almost instantly: this is a laptop you can open up and use in economy class without any problem. While power isn't the key attribute here (a core i3 or i5 processor works fine), you can beef this machine up to a core i7 chip, 8GB of ram and a 512GB solid state drive. This is a class act.

Best budget model

Lenovo G500 (from €520)

It's a quirk of the IT industry that 15-inch laptops are generally cheaper than 13-inch or 11-inch models. It may also seem ironic that cheaper machines have bigger hard drives and optical media (that accept software or multimedia via CDs and DVDs).

These are now the calling cards of 'budget' business laptops such as Lenovo's G500. It's a solid machine with plenty of power (via 8GB of ram beefing up its modest i3 processor) and storage (1,000GB). It avoids a cheap, plastic grey chassis in favour of black. It's reasonably heavy and its battery won't bring you much further than three hours' use. But this is a decent, affordable laptop.

One to avoid

Acer V5 (from €850)

If Opel made laptops, this would be the kind of thing they'd come up with. Dull grey plastic surrounds a so-so machine that tries to liven things up with a touchscreen Windows 8 interface.

There's very little to like here. The keyboard, with flat keys in the current style, isn't backlit and keystrokes are less reliable than other laptops I've used.

There's some decent power on offer, with 8GB of ram and an i5 processor, backed up by a 1,000GB optical hard drive. Battery life is around three hours (the battery is removable, which is one good thing). Give this one a miss.

Irish Independent

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