Thin is in
HP PAVILION DM4
Beats Edition; HP, $ 999; hp. com. au
★ ★ ★ ★ THIS HP laptop has been given a Dr Dre makeover with its new black and red theme and a giant Beats logo on its lid, but more important refurbishments lie under the hood. The Pavilion DM4’ s Altec Lansing speakers have been replaced with audio from Dre’s Beats’ brand and a subwoofer has been added for extra bass. The speakers are hidden in the base but they give the impression sound is coming from the keyboard. The Windows 7 Beats machine also features a 14- inch LED- backlit screen, 2.4GHZ Intel Core i5 chip, 8GB RAM, fingerprint reader and red backlit keyboard as standard, and offers up to seven hours of battery life. At 2.56kg, it could be heavy for a backpack and users will have to pay extra for Beats headphones, but this is a slick machine.
SAMSUNG CHRONOS SERIES 7
Samsung, $ 1499; samsung. com/ au
★ ★ ★ ★ ★ This 2.3kg notebook is hardly wafer thin, but it is slender for what it offers. Underneath the Chronos Series 7’ s brushed metal lid lies a comfortable chiclet keyboard, complete with number pad and a bright 15.6- inch screen with anti- reflective coating for comfortable use. It also has many more connections than you would expect of a streamlined laptop, including one standard USB opening and two faster USB 3.0 ports, an HDMI connection and an Ethernet port. Its Windows 7 programs are powered by a 2.4GHZ Intel Core i5 chip and 4GB RAM, making it powerful enough for media- editing programs. The PC’S fan can get noisy when pushed, its touchpad sometimes struggles and it will not suit backpacking students, but this laptop has stylish grunt.
DELL XPS 14Z
Dell, from $ 1199; dell. com. au
★ ★ ★ ★ ★ Even though this laptop is packed with modern power, it has a retro, 1950s- typewriter appeal. The rounded, designer keys, coil- like hinge and speakers covered in lace mesh all add to its charm. In the performance stakes, it delivers with a 2.8GHZ Intel Core i7 processor, 8GB RAM and a 7200rpm 750GB hard drive. The 1.86kg laptop appears smaller than most 14- inch models and Dell claims that is because it has put a 14- inch screen into a 13- inch laptop frame. While it sounds like defying physics, this computer does feel smaller than you’d expect, it is 2.3cm thick. One small downside is its ports – two standard USB connections, a HDMI and Ethernet ports – are hidden at the back and hard to access. Otherwise, it’s a powerful gem.
MACBOOK AIR 11- INCH
Apple, from $ 1049, apple. com/ au
★ ★ ★ ★ ★ There may be thinner computers now, but the Macbook Air set the standard for featherweight computing. The 11- inch version of the latest Air is just 1.08kg and 1.7cm thick, at most, though it’s a lot smarter than before, cramming in up to 128GB storage, up to 4GB RAM and a second generation dual- core Intel i5 processor. A 1.6GHZ chip comes as standard, though the second- tier model offers a more powerful 1.8GHZ model. Two USB ports, a Thunderbolt connection and a backlit keyboard also feature, and students should appreciate this Mac’s fivehour battery life. It does omit a DVD drive and memory card slot, however. To sweeten the deal, Apple offers university and TAFE students a 10 per cent discount and a $ 100 itunes gift card.