Toss-up: ultraportable notebooks

Between low-powered netbooks and expensive ultrabooks lies a handful of small notebooks perfect for your travel bag.

We're spoilt for choice when it comes to mobile computing devices, but sometimes a tiny, low-powered netbook doesn't cut the mustard. Meanwhile the sleek and sexy ultrabooks can be pricey. Thankfully, you'll find a few notebooks in the middle that are just right - offering the ideal blend of size, features and price.

These HP and Sony notebooks feature 1366x768 pixel, 11.6-inch LED screens and weigh in at 1.57 kilograms and 1.5 kilograms, respectively. That's not much bigger than a netbook but it has a much higher screen resolution. They run a full version of Windows 7 (rather than Windows 7 Starter) and pack a lot more grunt than netbooks thanks to AMD processors. They'll easily handle day-to-day tasks, although they'd groan under the load of something such as video editing.

As for connectors, there are HDMI and VGA video outputs, along with 802.11n wi-fi, Bluetooth, Gigabit Ethernet, three USB ports and a memory card slot. Basically everything you'd need except an optical drive.

The Sony certainly offers extra features for the money. The processor and graphics are a little more powerful, although the trade-off is that you'll squeeze at least another hour from the HP's battery.

The Sony also comes with 4GB of RAM, a USB3.0 port and a generous 500GB hard drive. It's worth noting that the HP has a spare RAM slot so you can easily upgrade it from 2GB to 4GB for another $30.

The verdict

The Sony clearly wins out on features but the HP can hold its own and is hard to go past at that price.

HP Pavilion DM1-4018AU

Sony Vaio E Series SVE11116FGP

The story Toss-up: ultraportable notebooks first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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