I’ve been bending Karl’s ear recently about my laptop. After posting not so long ago on Snark about how it was just fine for a near-7-year-old laptop, I think I must have jinxed it. Suddenly it was creaking at the seams, not coping with what I was throwing at it. Of course, now I’m actually working instead of aimlessly browsing the Internet (although some of that too) the demands placed on it and my expectations have gone up. Despite an SSD upgrade last year and more RAM (advertised as supporting only 1GB but running happily with 6GB) it was chugging.
Cue the great laptop hunt 2013. My needs were thus:
- Bigger resolution
- Better graphics
- Faster processor
- Under £800
The last been my absolute highest can’t spend more than this budget (but, as it turns out, above and beyond what I needed to spend anyway!)
I had started searching through the Dell site, as my Vostro has been fantastic over the past 7 years; the Dell small business support being great on the ooh.. 2? occasions I needed it. But I was looking at around £500+ for a reasonable laptop and Karl thought he’d be able to better that.
Karl’s searching turned up a couple of contenders on Laptops Direct who seem to specialise in bargain laptop deals. Karl ummed and ahhed over the Acer brand laptops as it’s known for budget laptops (some of those linked are <£300!), until I pointed out that our netbooks are both acer and we’ve had no issues with those even though they’ve been dropped, beaten by the kids etc.
In the end I settled on the Acer E1 laptop because I thought it had the best balance of tech while still being the right side of cheap. Tech specs as follows*:
- Intel Core i5-3210 2.5GHz with turbo boost up to 3.1GHz
- Intel HD Graphics 4000
- 15.6″ HD LED LCD
- 4GB DD3 RAM
- 500GB hard drive
* interestingly the site reports the processor as 2.3GHz, the sticker as 2.5GHz and control panel is reporting 2.6GHz – make of that what you will!
Thoughts so far
Considering Karl’s labelling of this Acer as a ‘budget’ laptop, I’ve been fairly impressed so far. It’s a plastic casing but with highlights in a glossy silver finish you wouldn’t spot this at a glance and visually, the little blue LED indicator lights are a lot more attractive than the great big orange things on my old Vostro.
I went to pick the laptop up to move it to my desk and was surprised by how light the machine is. I expected it to be heavy because of the size (it’s wide); I don’t know if it’s just a feature of modern tech (bearing in mind the age of mine) or this specific laptop but it’s surprisingly lightweight. I can easily hold it in one hand which I wouldn’t dare do with my old one for fear of snapping my wrist.
In terms of speed I’ve been blown away so far. Delays on my existing tech, like taking a second or two to display a folder full of images, are just non-existent on this. It sounds daft that the difference of a second or two could be that big a deal but I’ve really noticed it when ploughing through my huge todo list, trying to fit a million tasks into Oliver’s nap time for example. The 9 second boot time from hibernate to desktop is pretty damn tasty too.
Last but not least is the battery life. Although my laptops spend most of their life as desktop replacements so can be plugged in at the mains, if I’m moving around rooms to avoid sticky fingers and a drool trail, I like to know I can do so without dragging a cable behind me. When the laptop arrived I was transferring data, installing (and uninstalling) software etc for over 2hrs and still had more than 50% battery by the time I was finished.
I’m not blown away by the keyboard – I don’t like that the arrow keys are half the size of all the others – but I imagine that will be no more than a minor niggle once my fingers adjust to the slightly different layout. If that’s the only thing that I have to complain about by this time next week I’ll consider this a win.
Laptops Direct answered my email queries quickly and the laptop was despatched the day I confirmed my order. I’d be happy to recommend them for future hardware purchases.
Now all I need is for my clients to pay on time this month so I can pay for it ;)