Mini laptops with foldable touchscreens seem to catch a lot of ground lately, and for good reason, as they are very cool and can enhance your everyday experience with a computer by quite a lot.
Plus, unlike most tablets available these days, they are pretty affordable, with price tags way bellow 1000 bucks.
In the last months I’ve been able to play with a couple of these machines and here’s a quick comparison of some of the most popular models available right now: the 10 inch Asus T101MT, the 11.6 inch Acer 1825PT and the 12.1 inch HP TM2 .
Let’s take a look at the specs.
|Asus T101MT||Acer 1825PT||HP TM2|
|Display||10.1 inch 1024 x 600 px, multitouch resistive||11.6 inch 1366 x 768 px, multitouch capacitive||12.1 inch 1280 x 800 px, multitouch capacitive|
|Processor||1.6 GHz Intel Atom, single core||1.3 GHz Intel SU7300, dual core||1.2 GHz Intel Core i3-330UM, dual core, HT, Turbo33|
|Memory||1 GB DDR2 (up to 2)||4 GB DDR3 (up to 8 )||4 GB DDR3 (up to 8 )|
|Graphics||Intel GMA 3510, integrated||Intel GMA 4500HD, integrated||Intel HD graphics, integrated|
|Storage space||160 GB, 5400 rpm HDD||320 GB, 5400 rpm HDD||60 GB, 5400 rpm HDD|
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi N, Bluetooth 2.1, Gigabit Lan||Wi-Fi N, Bluetooth 2.1, Gigabit Lan, optional 3G||Wi-Fi N, Bluetooth 2.1, Gigabit Lan, optional 3G|
|Ports||3xUSB, VGA, mic/headphone, LAN||3xUSB, VGA, HDMI, mic/headphone, LAN||3xUSB, VGA, HDMI, mic/headphone, LAN|
|OS||Windows 7 Starter||Windows 7 Home Premium||Windows 7 Home Premium|
|Battery life||up to 6 hours||up to 8 hours||up to 9 hours|
|Weight||2.86 lbs||3.4 lbs||4.2 lbs|
|Build quality||Solid||Flimsy||Top notch|
|Price||$480 w/ Free Shipping||$700 (estimated)||$949 w/ Free Shipping|
These devices are not really in the same class, but are all mini laptops and can be compared.
In terms of performance, the Atom powered T101MT is noway near the Acer or the HP, which come with dual core CPUs, a lot more memory and better graphics. So, while these two can handle nearly all kind of applications and multimedia content, plus some games (like WOW for instance), the T101MT will even struggle with your basic tasks. The HP comes with the latest generation ULV processor from the Arrandale line and will offer some performance improvements, plus boosts from technologies like HyperThreading and Turbo33 (overclocks CPU by 33% when needed)
However, the T101MT is a lot more compact and lighter than the Acer or HP, so could be more practical when traveling. It also comes with a resistive screen, when compared to the other two that offer a capacitive one. This translates in pros (can be used for inking and has an included stylus) and cons (display will be less responsive than the capacitive ones and you’ll need an extra capacitive stylus for taking notes).
In terms of finishing and build quality, the Acer unfortunately pales in front of the others. It looks quite OK, but, because of the glossy exterior and flimsy display hinge, it doesn’t seem quite firm in your hands, especially when used in tablet mode. The Asus and HP on the other hand are top notch, some of the most solid built in their classes. The HP comes with aluminum finish though, while the Asus only offers a matte plastic one.
Last but not least, there’s the price matter. The Asus is obviously cheaper than the others, it runs for around 500 bucks. The HP TM2 on the other hand will cost around 900-1000, but it’s way powerful and versatile. The Acer will fit right in the middle, offering good performances (offers right now the same specs as the HP) but with a price tag probably around $700. This and its more reduced size made it a pick for me. However, I’m not at all satisfied with build quality and especially the display’s hinge looks very fragile. Thus, I’m looking forward to see how will it behave in time.
All in all, if I were to choose again, i would go for either the Acer or the HP. If you want something more solid, but somewhat bigger and heavier, the HP TM2 is a perfect choice. But, if you need to save some cash and are prepared to deal with the risk of possible poor reliability, the Acer 1825PT rises with its nice performance/price ratio.