Multimedia notebooks review

Our tests review the latest generation multimedia laptops.
 
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02.Results

The following models scored the best results in our test 

What to buy
Brand Price
17 inch
Apple MacBook Pro 17 inch $3799
Dell XPS M1730 $3984
Pioneer Dreambook D901C $3971
15.4 inch
Lenovo IdeaPad Y510-300 $2399
ASUS M51SN-AP003G $1799
BenQ R56-BV30 $1614

Results summary

  • The Apple MacBook Pro 17 inch topped our overall test rankings and is slim, stylish, powerful and well-featured and can run both its native Mac OS X (Leopard) and also Windows (not included).
  • The Dell XPS M1730 was a good performer and, optioned up with a Blu-ray optical drive and Vista Ultimate, makes a great multimedia machine.
  • The Pioneer Dreambook D901C was easily the most powerful laptop tested, being the only one with a quad-core processor, plus a heavy duty video card. Like the Dell, the Pioneer is build-to-order and can be optioned however you like but in this configuration is ideal as a desktop replacement.
  • If you’re looking for a medium-sized value-for-money laptop with all the bells and whistles, the Lenovo IdeaPad Y510-300 is the pick of the bunch. It’s small and light enough to be used on-the-go while not sacrificing speed and storage space and it’s well priced.
  • The ASUS M51SN-AP003G is also a good buy, with the addition of Bluetooth and TV tuner built-in and costs even less.
  • The BenQ R56-BV30 was the cheapest in our test and a good all-rounder, but let down by the inclusion of Vista Business and needs extra MPEG2 decoder software for use as a multimedia laptop.
 

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Results table

Full results for all models are shown in the table below.

  SPECIFICATIONS
Brand/model Price ($) Overall Ease of use
(50%)
Performance
(30%)
Battery life
(20%)
PCMark vantage
score
Annual energy cost ($) Weight inc battery (kg) Weight of power supply/cord(g) Dimensions (HxDxW)
Apple MacBook Pro 17 inch
www.apple.com.au
3799 77 80 76 69 3612 8.54 3.1 454 3x26.5x39
Lenovo IdeaPad Y510-300
www.lenovo.com.au
2399 77 82 79 60 3771 9.11 2.9 531 3.4x26.2x36
Dell XPS M1730
www.dell.com.au
3984 75 75 80 67 3687 17.74 5 1492 6x30x40.5
Asus M51SN-AP003G
www.asus.com.au
1799 73 76 72 65 3594 13.94 3 484 5x27x36.5
Pioneer Dreambook D901C
www.pioneercomputers.com.au
3971 70 65 92 49 4026 23.19 5 1369 6.5x30x40
BenQ R56-BV30
www.benq.com.au
1614 68 76 57 63 3246 8.37 2.7 536 3.6x36x26.5
Optima CentorisV870 Series
www.optima.com.au
1999 67 68 57 80 3253 8.65 2.7 512 3.5x25.4x35.5
QDI MX100
www.qditech.com.au
3121 64 65 57 70 3240 10.46 3 524 4.5x29x36.5
Toshiba Satellite X200
www.toshiba.com.au
3798 63 77 58 35 3303 15.28 4 1062 6.5x29x39.5
LG S900-U.CPS1A.
www.lge.com.au
2811 56 71 68 1 3493 16.85 5.9 825 8.5x32x44.5
 

  SPECIFICATIONS FEATURES
Brand/model HDD (GB) RAM (GB) Optical drive [a] Processor type Screen size (in) Max screen res Battery capacity (mAh)

Battery life (hr:min) heavy usage

USB ports FireWire S-Video
Apple MacBook Pro 17 inch
www.apple.com.au
250 2 1 x Dual-layer DVD, F (slot load) Core 2 Duo 2.5 GHz 17 1680 x 1050 6300 (b) 2:19 3
Lenovo IdeaPad Y510-300
www.lenovo.com.au
250 2 1 x Dual-layer DVD, R Core 2 Duo 2.5 GHz 15.4 1280 x 800 5135 1:55 3
Dell XPS M1730
www.dell.com.au
160x2 3 1 x Blu-Ray Dual-layer, L Core 2 Duo 2.5 GHz 17 1920 x 1200 7700 (c) 2:37 4
Asus M51SN-AP003G
www.asus.com.au
200 2 1 x Dual-layer DVD, L Core 2 Duo 2.5 GHz 15.4 1280 x 800 4800 2:05 4
Pioneer Dreambook D901C
www.pioneercomputers.com.au
120 3 1 x Dual-layer DVD, L Core 2 Quad 2.4 GHz 17 1920 x 1200 6600 1:19 4
BenQ R56-BV30
www.benq.com.au
160 2 1 x Dual-layer DVD, R Core 2 Duo 2.2 GHz 15.4 1280 x 800 4800 1:45 4 [d]
Optima CentorisV870 Series
www.optima.com.au
250 2 1 x Dual-layer DVD, R Core 2 Duo 2.2 GHz 15.4 1280 x 800 4400 3:38 4
QDI MX100
www.qditech.com.au
160 2 1 x Dual-layer DVD, R Core 2 Duo 2.4 GHz 15.4 1680 x 1050 7200 2:30 4
Toshiba Satellite X200
www.toshiba.com.au
200x2 2 1 x HD-DVD ROM (DVD RW), R Core 2 Duo 2.6 GHz 17 1689 x 1050 6000 0:38 6
LG S900-U.CPS1A.
www.lge.com.au
320 2 1 x Dual-layer DVD, R Core 2 Duo 2.2 GHz 19 1440 x 900 1100 0:15 4
 

  FEATURES
Brand/model Bluetooth S/PDIF out Recovery disc TV tuner Card Reader + location [a] Antivirus Firewall Anti-spyware Operating system Warranty (years) Warranty type
Apple MacBook Pro 17 inch
www.apple.com.au
none Mac Os X 10.5.2 (Leopard) 1 RTB
Lenovo IdeaPad Y510-300
www.lenovo.com.au
1 x R (sD/sD Pro, MMC, xD, Ms/ Ms Pro) • 90 days Vista Home Premium 1 PNR
Dell XPS M1730
www.dell.com.au
1 x L ( MMC, Ms Pro, sD, xD ) • 12 mths • 12 mths • 12 mths Vista Ultimate 1 Onsite
Asus M51SN-AP003G
www.asus.com.au
• (inbuilt) 1 x L ( MMC, Ms Pro, sD, xD ) • 12 mths Vista Ultimate 2 RTB
Pioneer Dreambook D901C
www.pioneercomputers.com.au
1 x L (Ms/Ms Pro, MMC, sD) • 12 mths • 12 mths • 12 mths Vista Home Premium 1 PNR
BenQ R56-BV30
www.benq.com.au
1 x L (sD, Ms/Ms Pro, sD, MMC) • 12 mths Vista Business 2 RTB
Optima CentorisV870 Series
www.optima.com.au
• (UsB) 1 x L (Ms/Ms Pro, MMC, sD) •2 mths • 2 mths • 2 mths Vista Home Premium 1 RTB
QDI MX100
www.qditech.com.au
•. (inbuilt) 1 x L (Ms, MMC, sD) Vista Ultimate 2 Onsite
Toshiba Satellite X200
www.toshiba.com.au
1 x F ( sDHC, Ms Pro, MMC, xD ) •90 days Vista Ultimate 1 PNR
LG S900-U.CPS1A.
www.lge.com.au
•. (inbuilt) 1 x L ( MMC, Ms Pro, sD, xD ) Vista Home Premium 1 RTB
 

Table notes

  1. Price paid in February 2008.
  2. Ease of use (50% of Overall) based on two different, specific, user panels and tester experience
  3. Performance (30% of Overall) based on the performance of benchmark software, a user panel assessment of the display screen and power consumption.
  4. Battery life (20% of Overall) based on two separate tests, simulating both heavyand light usage when using the battery as the power source.
  5. PCMark Vantage scores These are the raw benchmark scores and only included in this table as a point of comparison for future notebook tests.
  6. Annual energy cost Based on the average usage scenario of 20 hours per day standby and 4 hours per day active, calculated at 15c
  7. Specifications
    • Weight (including battery) commonly referred to as the ‘travel weight’, not including mains cord/power supply.
    • Weight of power supply/cord weighed separately.
    • Dimensions the dimensions of the notebook.
    • HDD the included hard drive size.
    • RAM the amount of memory installed.
    • Optical drive the type of optical disc drive and it’s location F, L or R.
    • Processor type the Intel family and speed.
    • Screen size measured in inches diagonally, all are widescreen.
    • Max screen res is the maximum supported screen resolution in pixels.
    • Battery capacity measured in milliAmp hours.
    • Battery life average in hours and minutes under heavy usage.
  8. Features
    • USB ports the number of USB connections.
    • FireWire whether the product has a 4-pin FireWire connection.
    • S-Video port for video output to a monitor or TV.
    • Bluetooth for wireless connection to other Bluetooth devices.
    • S/PDIF out to carry digital audio signals to other devices.
    • Recovery disc with Windows and other bundled software.
    • TV tuner for watching and recording TV on the laptop.
    • Card reader + location number, location and type of memory card. slot — common formats include Memory Stick, Memory Stick Pro Secure Digital (SD), MultiMediaCard (MMC), xD-Picture Card (xD) and CompactFlash.
    • Antivirus security software.
    • Firewall software in addition to Windows or OS X firewall software.
    • Anti-spyware software.
    • Operating System Windows Basic, Premium or Ultimate, or Mac OS X.
    • Warranty length of warranty; Warranty type limited parts and labour warranty — Return to base (RTB), Onsite or Pickup and return (PNR).

Footnotes:
[a] Positioning of the optical
drive and card reader (L = Left, R = Right, F = Front)
[b] calculated from 68 Wh
[c] calculated from 85 Wh
[d] HDMI integrated A/V port
Note: All laptops had both a built-in webcam and microphone.

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