08.Security and energy
One of the primary considerations when looking for a computer should be security software of some kind (even for a Mac and especially if you plan to run Windows on it).
Most of the laptops tested had security software of some kind, six in total — ASUS M51SN-AP003G, BenQ R56-BV30, Dell XPS M1730, Lenovo IdeaPad Y510-300, Pioneer Dreambook D901C and the Toshiba Satellite X200. Of those six, four came with a full security suite (including at least antivirus, anti-spam, anti-spyware and firewall). They were the Asus, BenQ, Dell and Pioneer. Each of the four had 12 months of updates for the antivirus component.
The Dell and Pioneer has 12 months coverage for the entire suite, but note that both computers are build-to-order online and as such, you need to choose this manufacturer-recommended option when ordering. Of the six laptops, the security software on the remaining two — Lenovo and Toshiba — was only a 90-day trial.
Fingerprint and face security
Another handy touch feature is ‘biometric security’ such as the fingerprint scanner included on three of the laptops: the ASUS M51SN-AP003G, QDI MX100 and Toshiba Satellite X200. This can be set up to allow access only to those who have registered their fingerprint on the system. This worked well, but we strongly recommend also setting up a backup password as an alternate access option.
The Lenovo IdeaPad Y510-300 takes this a step further by including face recognition for security. The VeriFace system works in conjunction with the integrated webcam to use your face as the system’s ‘password.’ In our testing,
VeriFace worked well but problems arose, however, with wearers of hats and reflective glasses. Also, those who typically use their laptop in badly-lit places might have second thoughts about facial recognition security. Unless locking your machine this way is important to you, don’t consider it a priority feature to look for.
Because they’re designed to run on batteries as an alternative to mains power, laptops are generally more frugal with energy consumption than their desktop counterparts. We measured the power consumption of each laptop in our test, calculating totals based on a typical use scenario of four hours of active use per day and 20 hours standby use. The cost per year calculation was based on 15 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) of electricity.
Adding standby and active power totals together, the cheapest to run was the BenQ R56-BV30 at 56 kWh, giving a total annual running cost of $8.37. This was only slightly ahead of the Apple MacBook Pro 17 inch at 57 kWh and $8.54 per year, and the Optima Centoris V870 Series at 58 kWh and $8.65 per year.
The most expensive of the laptops to run was the Pioneer Dreambook D901C at 155 kWh, or $23.19 per year, but this is still far cheaper than running a standard desktop PC which, on the same usage scenario, uses a comparatively massive 771 kWh per year for a total cost of $115.63. That’s nearly five times the energy consumption of the most power-hungry laptop we tested.
So, if you’re looking to replace a desktop PC with a laptop computer from this category you can expect some savings on your power bill and take comfort from knowing you will be using a ‘greener’ computing option.