With all the different configurations, materials, interfaces, colorings and ergonomic innovations employed in modern notebooks, you can easily get confused because similar-looking models may turn to be completely different inside or, on the contrary, two visually different models may have absolutely identical configurations. So how should you make you choice?
Before purchasing a notebook you should make up your mind as to what problems you are going to solve with it. This will help you save your money and time. Basing on the latest technological trends, portable computers are categorized into several classes, each class having certain characteristic features:
- Sub-notebooks are ultra-compact, slim and low-weight models; they often lack an optical drive even;
- Multimedia notebooks feature wide functionality, have a large display, but are generally heavy and their battery doesn’t last too long;
- Gaming notebooks are similar to multimedia notebooks but offer the highest performance possible;
- Business notebooks are high-performance models that allow you to work with comfort in or out of the office; they have a stylish design and good performance;
- Entry-level notebooks are cheap (below $1000, as a rule) but are sufficient for working in office and multimedia applications.
This classification isn’t too strict. Quite a lot of manufacturers have their own notebook nomenclatures and it’s sometimes difficult just to understand what the letters and numerals in a model’s name actually mean. That was something we had to think about when we received an ASUS A3Vc notebook for our tests. The Taiwan-headquartered ASUSTeK divides its notebooks into six classes:
- Digital Home (W1 and W2 series)
- Personal entertainment center (A5 and A7)
- Super-mobile (M5, S2, S3, S5, W5 and W6)
- Business (A3, A6, L4 and M6)
- Performance (A2, A4 and L5)
- Portable (M2, M3. M9, V6 and W3)
Easy to see, the ASUS A3Vc, and namely the A3500Vc03 model we will be looking at today, is positioned as a business notebook. But what does the rest of the name mean? The letters Vc mean that the notebook is equipped with a discrete graphics adapter ATI Mobility Radeon X700 with 64MB of dedicated memory and this is where it differs from the previous, Ac model. The last numerals in the name indicate that the notebook comes with a DVD-burner and a 100GB hard disk drive. For example, the numerals 01 would mean a combo optical drive with a 60GB hard drive, “02” means a DVD burner accompanied with a 60GB HDD. There can be other numerals too because the manufacturer’s website declares a wide range of CPU frequencies, from 1.60 to 2.13GHz, besides the varying types of HDD and optical drives. Our sample was based on an Intel Pentium M 740 (1.73GHz clock rate, Dothan core).
The manufacturer positions its A3 and A6 series as business notebooks, so I took an ASUS A6Q00K, based on the Turion 64 processor and equipped with a PCI Express graphics adapter from Nvidia, for the sake of comparison.