The accountant's guide to laptop computers

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To tie in with our annual Christmas Gadget Countdown, John Stokdyk sets off on another hardware quest to find the laptop computers that are most popular with AccountingWEB members.

AccountingWEB's Top 10 Printers round-up proved to be a useful exercise, helping members to share their insights about the best machines for small business. The Christmas rush is when a huge proportion of the country's laptop computers get sold, so it seems a good time to repeat our "wisdom of crowds" approach to laptop purchases.

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18th Dec 2008 18:05

Midrange laptop - lots of power for £700 (Dec '08)
"The company" has just taken delivery of an Asus MV50-AS001C ordered online (with a Visa of course!) from

As well as a carrying case, mouse and 2 years RTB warranty, you get
4GB memory
2.26GHz Core2 Duo "Montevina"
320GB hard drive, memory card slots
512MB Nvidia 9300 on 15.4"screen WXGA+ with HDMI & VGA ports
Blu-ray/Lightscribe DVD/CDRW drive
WiFi, Webcam, Bluetooth, USBs, E-SATA, Firewire, Fingerprint scan login, half-decent speakers, etc.
Swappable battery pack (presume you can buy an extra one)

sadly it comes with Vista Premium, but never mind ...

PS. I was originally looking at the Asus F7-sr model for £100 less, then the F8, which got a PC magazine's 'midrange laptop best buy' back in March, but it was discontinued. ( )

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27th Jan 2009 15:19

The Editor's Curse
I've come back to this piece to prepare the final listing this week, and had to laugh at the sad irony of using my Dell Lattitude D140 as an example of a reliable workhorse.

I left the machine on a colleague's desk when I was visiting HQ earlier this month and returned to find a strange black scar spreading in fractal patterns across the screen. I could still use the machine until I took it to our IT support guys, one of whom said it was basically unfixable and pressed the screen with his thumb to spread the black contagion across half the remaining screen.

"Well, it's pretty much an out of date machine anyway," he said.

A pretty severe failure and in spite of my colleague's blase attitude, I expect to get a bit more than 3-4 years' life out of a device costing several hundred pounds. My Apple Trinitron monitor was more than a decade old when time came to send it to the big crusher in the sky.

Meanwhile, Top 10 laptop recommendations follow shortly.

John Stokdyk
Technology editor

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18th Dec 2008 16:21

talking of keyboards - can you update us on ports usb ets for these machines


a little run down on processors would be helpful too - us old fold get confused

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18th Dec 2008 19:28

Keep the suggestions coming!
Thanks everybody, I'll be taking on board th suggestions about battery life, keyboard size, processors and input/output options when I compile the final recommendations in the new year. Will also try to get prices for 2GB min RAM.

Here's hoping you all get the toys you want for Christmas! (that's if you don't buy them yourself, like Mike).

John Stokdyk
Technology editor

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By Anonymous
19th Dec 2008 09:50

Had to Smile...
... at John's comment:

"Even more insulting, it costs 369 euros in Germany and Belgium"

If you hang on for a few weeks, this will equate to about 500 quid, so your UK Lidl purchase will be...errr... a bargain!

Have a happy Christmas everyone but chuck those foreign holiday brochures straight in the bin. It's Bognor next year, and you can take your new laptop with you. Fish and chips anyone?

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18th Dec 2008 17:32

Memory matters
I was surprised to see machines with only 1 gig' (1 gigabyte / 1Gb) or even less being included in the list.

The fact is that software has been growing in size over the years, such that it is now, more than ever, necessary to keep swapping software modules in and out of memory. This is all the more important if you use your laptop to do lots of CPU-heavy tasks which involve number-crunching for example.

The size of your own files is also important (though for most people this factor is a lot less likely to cause overflow problems), along with your ability to multi-task (run several jobs at once) which might.

Today, though you can certainly get by with 1 gig' of memory, 2 gig' is definitely preferable, and will, I suggest, be well worth the relatively small price of doubling your workspace.

Another important consideration, as Jez pointed out in his post, is battery life. Be realistic about how long you're likely to be using your laptop without being able to recharge it and make sure you get a machine (within whatever budget you set yourself, of course) which is going to last as long as you're likely to need it.

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18th Dec 2008 14:23

Full width keyboard
I agree with the comment above from Yonder Dave - bearing in mind most accountants use laptops for inputting figures the keyboards with an integral number pad are superb. Sony do not do one at all which is disappointing as theirr Vaio's look superb. I use a HPCompaq 6820 which has a smashing keyboard.

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18th Dec 2008 12:26

MSI Wind
Well it's the Advent version, but it's the same machine branded differently. I bought it because I wanted the portability compared to the 17in 3.5kg one I normally use.

This has been a frustrating experience though, as the design allows static to build up in the machine. This means that every single time you start the thing up it fails to run past the initial boot. It simply closes down to protect itself from the dangerous static levels that it can detect. You need to hold the power button down for about 25 seconds to purge the static, and then fire it up again. The manufacturers say that this is not a fault, as the machine can be used perfectly well after the purge process. You just have to be prepared to hold the power button for half a minute every time you want to use it. It even does it in standby mode, so you can't avoid it that way either. The battery on this one is only a 3 cell unit as well, so expect it to last about 2 hours in normal use and just over the hour on mobile broadband.

It may be less expensive, but there is clearly a reason for it.

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By Anonymous
18th Dec 2008 12:21

When comparing laptops..
would it be possible to indicate whether a particular model includes a full keyboard? I find it much easier using a laptop including the number pad than using a plug in one.

Otherwise a very helpful guide.


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18th Dec 2008 11:15

Thanks Jez - that's exactly the kind of input we want!
I came across the N10 while I was researching bigger models, but had already written up the netbook section. If I had taken in every vaguely interesting machine I noticed, I would never have finished the article!

And what we're particularly interested in is endorsements from people who have actually used and compared the machines. With your vote, the Samsung now has a proper recommendation.

Best wishes
John Stokdyk
Technology editor

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By Anonymous
18th Dec 2008 10:30

Samsung NC10
It is probably worth raising the Samsung NC10 at this point. This netbook is generally considered the market leader at the moment thanks to providing all the basic must haves of netbooks in one package for the first time with a 7hr battery life and a larger size that makes it a fully funtional portable computer that you will actually enjoy using as much as a desktop. Prospective owners might like to read more on the Samsung NC10 community site.

This netbook is generally getting top reviews out there right now. It won't stay top for ever but right now it is clearly the best buy (imo!)


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