Lots of things have changed in past 2 years since I published this post. Configurations twice as good are now available for half the price. This post has got over 130 comments so far. A good number of people have given negative opinion about HP. Acer seems to be doing very good. Dell and Acer are now manufactured in Chennai, India. Dell has also started selling laptops in physical stores, compared to pure online model it had earlier. -Nidhi
September 2009 Recommendation: Lenovo G550 2958 2TQ looks very good at a competitive price of 35k.
November 2010 Update: Checkout review of Acer Netbook with Android and XP dual OS
------------Original Post (Oct 2007)--------------
In this post I’m listing pros and cons of major laptop vendors which should help a prospective buyer of notebooks to compare various brands in the market. Contents in this post are based on my observation made during June 2007. Specification and pricing may change without prior notice. Please check with respective companies for latest information.
Go directly to Dell* HP*Sony Vaio*Acer*Lenovo*LG*Sahara *Panasonic
Legendary Direct sales model, favorite vendor for corporate houses due to aggressive pricing, Cheapest option for any given configuration and excellent customization.
My other post on detailed analysis of Dell's Business Model
1. Relatively cheaper than competition for a given configuration
2. Prices may drop further once Dell’s India plant in Chennai becomes operational
3. Configure and customize as you wish
4. Only vendor who gives original OS media (With others you need to create recovery discs)
5. Only Vendor from whom you can ask Windows XP instead of Vista (Not available in Dell website, you need to ask for this manually later with Dell Representative.)
6. Available in Multiple colours (Inspiron and XPS series)
7. Blu Ray writer available optionally (Rs 28k extra!!!)
8. Prices can be negotiated
9. Changeable skins
November 2007 Update: Some recent Dell Models are quite feature rich-travel remote, 2MP camera, detachable DVD drives etc
1. You need to pay 100% in advance and wait for few weeks for delivery
2. No showrooms, No Service centers (Web and telephone help, onsite warranty in some cases)
3. You can not see and feel the product before purchase. (Update: Some stores in Chennai are displaying Dell notebooks)
4. No finance options arranged
5. Dell has no tablet PC as of now (Expected early 2008)
6. Trouble shooting can be a headache if you’re a computer novice.
7. Strong up-selling tactics can make you spend more than what you originally budgeted.
8. Other laptop dealers/service center staff may refuse outright to fix a dell unit or charge heavily for the service. (Reason being, since Dell deals directly with customers these people are loosing commission)
9. If you buy a vista unit and want to downgrade to XP later, Dell will charge heavily for XP support.
Hewlett Packard (HP) (NYSE: HPQ)
Quite popular among domestic consumers-Competitive pricing, good sales and service network, lots of features and occasional promo offers
1. Lots of value added features: Like Remote Control, Fingerprint recognition, Webcam etc, not available in most of the competition models of similar configuration
2. HP liveperson chat is quite useful (Available only during US hours-You can chat with a sales executive who will answer your queries related to HP products and services
3. HP promoted lightscribe technology available in most of the units (Read this post for more on lightscribe technology)
4. Decent sales and service network
5. HP imprints can give good look to your unit (it is a sticker kind of thing with attractive images/scenery etc which you can stick to back of monitor)
6. Excellent collection of Accessories
1. Latest processors are not incorporated.
2. No option to make any changes in the specifications
3. Not so robust compared to Dell and Sony.
4. Very few models in high end segment.
5. I am not happy with HP's recovery manager software-Read this post for details
HP is reportedly looking to sell of its notebook business and focus mainly on software
Sony (NYSE:SNE) Go to TOP
Some of the most expensive notebooks available (Highest one costing INR 1, 99,990), can be seen in most of the movies, more as a style statement.
1. High resale value and excellent brand recognition
2. Good build quality and attractive colours
3. Latest processors incorporated readily (In June, while most of HP notebooks had Dual Core processors, Sony Vaio were powered with latest Core 2 Duo (T5500 onwards))
4. Blu ray technology (Blue ray writer) available (September 2009 update: This technology yet to reach the mass-price of blu ray drives have come down drastically)
5. Sony gives official 3% discount on MRP
6. Finance arranged through Bajaj Finance.
7. Excellent screen clarity
8. Sony is the first company to launch flash based memory (no moving parts as in HDD, so far effecient and fast, but currently it costs Rs 1,40,000-more details on Vaio VGN TZ38GN series
1. Relatively expensive (Vaio mini (W series) starts from 30k, any other model with decent config (C2D) costs Rs. 50k INR onwards)
2. Blu Ray drives not available in entry level models
3. No Tablet PCs (They have some new concept called Panel PC !!!)
4. No option to make any changes in the specifications.
5. Don't think they have AMD based units
Acer: Go to TOP
Sub 20k notebooks are available only from Acer. Hritik Roshan has been commissioned to sell this brand and strong advertising is going on. Nothing exciting about other models. Ferrari fans can go for their flagship Ferrari notebook, but I didn’t like the configuration.
Acer netbooks- detailed review
Lenovo: Go to TOP
Chinese firm Lenovo bought IBM’s PC and notebook unit few years ago. Their license to use IBM logo expires soon. Only brand to have face recognition. Legendary ThinkPad series starts 90k onwards and beyond the reach of common man. Y and R series are doing good business.
LG: They’re not focused on notebooks. Just have X-note series in their portfolio besides hundreds of other products in consumer electronics. Pricing appears to be expensive for the given configuration. New x-note with Dual screen in unique to LG and not attempted yet by rest.
Personal comment: I've been using a Lenovo G550 for about 2.5 yrs now. Except few minor issues, it has been overall satisfactory experience owning this.
Toshiba: No specific comments
Sahara: New entrant in the market. Caters to low end entry level segment. Good pricing. Tie up with Indiatimes, Big Bazaar etc. Yet to gain market share and popularity. Not enough feedbacks available.
Samsung: Reasonably priced, but nothing unique.
Panasonic: Panasonic has launched toughbooks to market. These are military grade netbooks priced close to a lakh rupees INR. Panasonic toughbooks are available in different flavors and are known for ruggedness. I got a chance to use and review one such notebook-details here
Go directly to Dell* HP*Sony Vaio*Acer*Lenovo*LG*Sahara
Let me know what you think.
Note: Logos are property of respective companies. Sourced for reference from internet.
You may also wish to read my posts on Amway QuestNet mGinger Redbus
Please note that I do not follow the developments in notebook industry on a daily basis. Nearly one year ago I did some study before buying my laptop and this post is largely based on the study and observations made at that time. But since then, so many things have changed. While I try to respond to your queries to the best of my knowledge, please be informed that there may be differences. Please consider taking second opinion/cross check if felt necessary.