A low-cost laptop is the way to go if you want something just for very basic everyday tasks and a bit of entertainment. Some of the most affordable models available in the market today are those powered by an Intel Pentium B900 series processor along with the lowest capacity hard drive and 2 GB of RAM. The average market price of these laptops is around Rs. 23,000 (with Linux or FreeDOS).
A low-cost 15.6-inch laptop with Windows 7 Home Basic
The Intel Celeron B800 series processors launched in the first half of 2011, but we haven’t seen many laptops featuring them till now. The latest addition to the series is the Intel Celeron B815 processor. The Gateway NE56R02I is the first we’ve come across that uses it. Let’s find out what it has in store.
Design and Features
Before we get into the core specifications, let us shed some light on the Celeron B815 processor. Like the Intel Pentium B900 series, the processors from the Celeron B800 series are dual-core with 2 MB of L3 cache. Intel HD integrated graphics and support for Intel Virtualization Technology are also supported. The only difference is that Intel Pentium B900 processors have higher clock speeds. Clocked at 1.9 GHz, the Celeron B840 is the fastest and the Celeron B815 runs at 1.6 GHz. The Pentium B900 series processors are clocked higher than 2 GHz.
Acer has shed a few common features and compromised on others in order to keep the price low. What you don’t get are Bluetooth and USB 3.0. If you want to sync your phone data or use Bluetooth speakers, you’ll have to use a dongle. Also, you won’t be able to harness the speedy transfer rates of external USB 3.0 storage devices. At least one of the three USB ports on the sides could have been USB 3.0.
The amount of RAM and hard drive capacity have also been reduced. The NE56R02I comes with 2 GB of RAM and a 320 GB hard disk. RAM being very cheap at the moment, Acer could have gone with a 4 GB module. The hard drive capacity should suffice for the basic applications that you use frequently. If you need to upgrade the RAM or hard drive, it’s possible to do it yourself as they reside behind a removable panel.
Large keys and a numeric keypad
The NE56R02I sports a 15.6-inch display because of which Acer has been able to provide a keyboard with a numeric keypad. The keyboard is the standard type, but with flat keys. Acer has followed a different approach to providing hotkeys for media player control, Wi-Fi, brightness, etc. These are mapped on the function keys but you don’t need to combine key presses with the [Fn] key by default. Hotkeys with one touch access do make things simpler, but if you extensively use keyboard shortcuts in applications, you’ll have to press three keys – for example, [Alt] + [Fn] + [F4] to close a window. This can be a bit annoying if you use shortcuts extensively.
The touchpad is standard type with two buttons and a vertical scroll zone to the right, demarcated by a thin line and tiny arrows. Above the keyboard is the speaker grille that runs across almost the entire length of the laptop. In addition to the USB ports, you have a DVD-writer, a Gigabit Ethernet port, a D-sub port and an HDMI port, all placed on the sides for easy access. The card reader is placed on the front left, just next to the indicators for charging status, hard drive activity and Wi-Fi. A webcam placed right at the centre of the screen frame rounds out the feature set. The NE56R02I comes with Windows 7 Home Basic preinstalled.
The black-and-silver colour scheme with glossy finish looks stylish
Acer has gone with a simplistic design, but the laptop looks very elegant. The lid is graphite black with a metallic, glossy finish and the rest of the exteriors are matte black. The touchpad area is silver and a black screen frame sports a glossy finish. The screen too is glossy, so it’s advisable to keep a lint free cloth handy to ward off fingerprints and stains.
Updated 18 May, 2013, 5:40 pm IST
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