|How We Tested|
|The laptops were assessed on four main parameters-features, performance, usability and price. The weightages applied to these parameters varied from one category to another depending on the relevance of a particular parameter to that category.
We used a fresh copy of Windows XP Professional SP1 as the OS. After the installation, all the latest drivers were loaded for optimum performance.
We noted features such as the type of RAM, hard disk capacity, type of optical drive, types of ports, connectivity options, and so on.
A laptop's usability is evaluated on the basis of how simple or difficult it is to handle in day-to-day life-primary importance was given to weight, dimensions, and other ergonomically-inclined issues such as keyboard feel, touchpad sensitivity, etc.
We noted whether the vendor provided an OS, a recovery CD, a user's manual and driver CDs with the laptop. We also noted the extra software provided, and the accessories-power adapter, carry case, etc-bundled along.
To gauge the performance of each laptop, we ran a battery of tests to evaluate each sub-system. The following benchmarking suites were used to test the laptops.
PCMark 2004: This is a system-wide benchmark that tests individual components such as the processor, memory, hard drive and the graphics sub-system. It returns aggregated scores as well as individual scores by running different applications used in day-to-day work, such as file encryption, virus scanning and so on. SiSoft Sandra 2005 Professional SR1: This was used to evaluate CPU, memory and hard disk performance.
Ziff Davis Business Winstone 2004: ZD Bench's Business Winstone-a benchmark that tests the system with applications that are used on daily basis-evaluates complete system performance, and returns a unified score.
Video Encoding: A 100 MB VOB file was encoded using Dr. Divx 1.0.6 to the AVI format, and the time taken to encode the file was noted.
Gaming benchmarks: Call of Duty was used because it doesn't work on graphics chipsets that don't support Hardware T&L (Transformation and Lighting), and tests the OpenGL graphics subsystem. HalfLife 2 supports different versions of the DirectX API. The games were run at 800 x 600 and 1024 x 768, and the average frame-rate was noted.
Screen display tests: DisplayMate Video Edition was used to evaluate the quality of the LCD display. We used the test to gauge the sharpness and level shift of the LCD screens. Pixel Persistence was tested using the PassMark Monitor Test suite, in which white moving blocks were observed for the tearing effect, and the screens were rated accordingly. The laptops were then taken outdoors to see how viewable the text and video on the screen was in sunlight. The laptops were placed such that the sun fell on the screen at a slant, rather than perpendicular to the screen.
Digit Battery Meter: In order to stress the battery to the utmost, we ran a VOB file until the battery ran out, to gauge whether the notebook battery would last a full movie-pretty real-world.
Wi-Fi Test: To evaluate data throughput over Wi-Fi, we used the NetCPS program-a utility that pumps in data to check the TCP/IP connection. We also copied 52 MB of assorted data, and streamed a movie file, to further check Wi-Fi performance.
|'Why I Use A Laptop'|
|Jehangir Wadia, Trustee of the A H Wadia Trust, has been an avid laptop user for at least 10 years now; he currently uses a Fujitsu 7010 for everyday work.
Flexibility is the primary reason he cited for opting for a laptop over a desktop PC. According to Wadia, you can take your entire office with you if you have a laptop-whether you're on the move, visiting your branch offices, or working at home. "Such mobility and flexibility ensures that you deliver on both-professional as well as personal demands."
|'Lighter Laptops Make Sense'|
Dr Uday Lajmi , Dean, D Y Patil Institute of Management Studies
Dr Lajmi has equipped himself with an ultra-portable laptop. Why an ultra-portable one? "Weight and size were the two things I was looking at, and it's only an ultra-portable that fits the bill. I often have to lug the laptop around for presentations, so a lighter laptop makes more sense. Moreover, the small size ensures you can take it almost anywhere."
|How We Tested PDA-Phones|
|Parameters such as portability, usability and productivity formed the backbone of this PDA comparison.
In 'Portability', we noted the dimensions and the weight of the device. We also looked at whether the device fits easily in a pocket. 'Usability' included general ergonomics, where we assigned scores by typing messages using the QWERTY keyboard/pad or using the stylus.
We also used the device for browsing the Internet, and logged its ability to render Web pages well. As for contact management and schedules, we added some entries and then synchronised the device with a desktop PC to check compatibility with MS Outlook. We also used the provided data backup tool to back up the data, and assigned scores based on how simple this task turned out. We also took the devices' ease of use into account.
In 'Productivity', we assessed how easy to use the bundled software was-such as the word processor, the spreadsheet application, the PDF reader, the presentation tool, the e-mail client, etc.
To obtain realistic values in the battery test, we had the device simulate optimal usage, and noted the time it took for the device to drain the battery from a full charge.
|'For e-mail on the go, a PDA is as good as a laptop'|
Santosh Savant, Brand Manager, Cosmos Brands International Pvt Ltd.
As a brand manager for up-market luxury brands, Savant often has to shuttle between his office in India and headquarters in Europe. He relies on his Nokia Communicator 9210i for daily communication. Here's what Savant had to say to us about his preference for a PDA-phone over a laptop.
"When you're travelling, the weight and size of the device really matters. Any laptop weighs over a kilogram, and the 250 grams of a PDA-phone is a significant reduction. Secondly, I use the 9210i for scheduling my meetings, anniversary reminders, etc. when travelling; the PDA-phone notifies me about such events instantly-it's not this way with laptops for the simple reason that they aren't switched on all the time.
Practically speaking, a laptop is a better bet if you do lot of presentations, work with sheets, etc. But for e-mail on the go, a PDA is as good as a laptop. The added phone features make it even better-you can stay in touch with your loved ones."