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Comparing notebooks PCs

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The personal technology scene is almost unrecognisable from what it was just a couple of decades ago. Before the turn of the century, most Australian households tended to possess one or two "smart" digital devices, namely desktop or notebook PCs. Now many of us have smartphones and tablets in addition to the PCs we nominally term "computers".

While these smaller mobile devices are still powerful, sophisticated, web-connected machines, they haven't yet bested the PC when it comes to real productivity. A larger screen, a full-size tactile keyboard, significant onboard storage, mature operating systems (with proven third-party software) and comparably powerful internal components are hard to beat, which is one of the reasons tablets haven't taken over the notebook industry. As a hardware category that's closing in on 40 years old, notebooks might not be quite as exciting as some other shiny new formats but they've got it where it counts.

What is it? HP Stream 11 How much? $299 Pros: Recalling the form factor and low-end spec of the netbook trend from a few years back, HP's ultra-budget mini-laptop (with an 11.6-inch display) is a competitor to Google's Chromebook notebooks, with the added advantage of a conventional operating system and app platform in Windows 8.1. Cons: There's really not a lot of power here (nor storage at a paltry 32GB) but for light work or a student's needs it might fit the bill rather neatly. Visit hp.com.au


notebooks

What is it? Lenovo Yoga 3 (14 inch) How much? From $1299 Pros: Notebooks are getting on but they still have a few new tricks up their sleeve. Numerous vendors have marketed "hybrid" models, such as Lenovo's Yoga range, which incorporates a number of different usage modes, including laptop, tablet, tent and stand. Cons: The yoga analogy is a tad gimmicky but the versatility of Lenovo's laptops (with multi-touch full HD displays) gives them an edge over conventional clamshell PCs. Visit lenovo.com/au


What is it? Apple MacBook How much? From $1799 Pros: Apple redefines sleek with its new MacBook range. At 13.1mm thick and weighing 920 grams, this minimal device sports a gorgeous 12-inch Retina display and features the new "Force Touch" pressure-sensitive trackpad. Cons: Not a hugely powerful processor and a literally shallow keyboard for typing, but the real shocker for many is that there's only one shared port for USB, charging and video-out. Yikes! Visit apple.com/au

Peter Dockrill is Money's tech columnist.

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Peter Dockrill is Money's tech expert.
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