In Depth News Feature: EDITOR'S CHOICE: top 10 Centrino 2 laptops

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Jun 26, 2007
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Intel's Centrino technology has revolutionised the way we work with our laptops and is a true market-leader.

As wireless networking and high-definition entertainment has grown in popularity however, so have the demands of the modern laptop user. Enter Centrino 2.

Comprising three core components - chipset, processor and Wi-Fi card - Intel's Centrino 2 technology improves on all three areas. It aims to bring increased performance, battery life and wireless connectivity to laptop owners around the world, whatever their needs.

The new Mobile Intel 45 Express chipset provides improved support for playback of high-definition content, while the upgraded processors deliver faster speeds and greater performance, in the same compact 45-nanometre designs that we've grown accustomed to.

Improved wireless range and transfer speeds come courtesy of full 802.11n Wi-Fi support as standard, and with so much on offer, there's never been a better time to buy a laptop. As a flood of new machines hits shelves this week, we've taken a look at some of the best options.

Rock is a UK-based manufacturer, known for bringing the latest technology to its high-end gaming systems.

The Pegasus 520 takes a slightly different approach, by combining outstanding performance and mobility ideal for power-hungry home users.

Built around a 15.4-inch screen with a sharp 1680 x 1050 pixel (WSXGA+) resolution, it can be configured with Intel's top-of-the-range 2.8GHz T9600 Core 2 Duo chip and a huge 8GB of RAM for one of the most impressive specifications we've seen so far.

As much as 500GB of hard drive storage is available, spinning at 5400rpm, or for faster data access speeds, users can opt for a 250GB drive spinning at 7200rpm. A Blu-ray optical drive can also be added for reading data from and recording to the high-capacity discs.

For powerful multimedia performance, an nVidia GeForce 9600M GT graphics card is fitted. With an outstanding 1GB of dedicated video memory, this makes it a great choice for users wanting to play the latest games and smoothly edit home movies and photos.

With Rock's reputation for affordable prices and powerhouse performance, the Pegasus 520 looks set to continue the success.

Its fantastic specification and mobile chassis make it another strong laptop from the UK company and an impressive taste of the power of Centrino 2.

Medion's Akoya S5610 is a powerful and slim 15.4-inch laptop, notable for its almost immediate high-street availability.

Weighing 2.7kg, it can be carried in comfort and the dark grey metallic finish and blue backlit power button add style ideal for fashion-conscious buyers.

The 2GHz Core 2 Duo P7350 processor and impressive 3GB of memory deliver powerful performance for such a compact laptop. With up to 640GB of storage space, there's plenty of room for holding all your music and photos, and even large high-definition video files.

The ATi Mobility Radeon HD 3470 graphics card allows direct HD video processing, without having to rely on the processor, to deliver the smoothest possible HD playback. An HDMI-out port is also fitted for connecting to larger HDTVs for the full cinematic experience.

A built-in fingerprint scanner lets you safeguard your essential data without the need to remember passwords, and an integrated webcam and microphone let you easily chat face-to-face with friends, family and colleagues online.

With a quoted battery life of ten-hours using Medion's extended life battery option, the Akoya S5610 is the perfect choice for mobile professionals. It will be available for sale in Sainsbury's stores nationwide within the next two weeks.

Designed for high-performance mobility, the EasyNote RS65 is a stylish and compact sub-2kg laptop.

Unique design touches, including the circular touchpad, and brushed black and metallic finish add to the package, making it as eye-catching as it is powerful.

Built around a 13.1-inch chassis, this is a lightweight laptop that easily slips into your luggage for use on the move.

The low power consumption of the new Intel processors means battery life can be extended, to keep you working comfortably when away from home or the office.

Using the latest Intel processors from the Centrino 2 range, performance promises to far exceed what we've previously seen from an ultraportable laptop. Again the low power needs of the chipset are sure to keep the chassis cool and the fans quiet even when you're hard at work.

A choice of ATi Mobility Radeon HD 3000 series graphics cards provide strong 3D performance and let you watch your favourite HD movies on your travels. A Blu-ray optical drive is available as an upgrade and built-in HDMI output lets you connect to HDTVs.

Software including Norton Internet Security, AdobePhotoshop Elements and Microsoft Works gets you up and running straight away and represents great value for money. If you need to take your home office with you wherever you go, this could be your ideal laptop.

Lenovo's ThinkPad laptops are renowned for delivering rock-solid performance, security and usability to corporate users.

The ThinkPad SL400 adds to the range, and its affordable price and comprehensive warranty cover are aimed directly at Small to Medium Business users.

The slim and light chassis makes it easy for mobile professionals to stay productive when on the move.

The glossy lid adds style without being ostentatious. This is a first for Lenovo, whose no-frills designs have traditionally avoided such touches of flair.

A choice of Intel's latest Core 2 Duo processors is available, and the fast clock-speeds and 6MB of Level 2 cache will suit business users seeking the best performance in and out from the office. HSDPA wireless broadband is also built-in for high-speed wireless internet access.

Ensuring effective data protection is a built-in fingerprint scanner and shock-mounted hard drive. Another first for Lenovo is the option to add a Blu-ray drive to the SL400, and the included HDMI and VGA-out ports provide full connectivity to HD and analogue screens.

A key selling point is the excellent warranty that Lenovo provides as standard. All repairs are carried out onsite on the next business day, and an online data backup service is included, making this the first ThinkPad directly tailored to the needs of business users on a budget.

As the world's third largest PC manufacturer, Acer supplies a comprehensive range of laptops covering every sector of the market.

The Aspire 2930 is a powerful and well-specified sub-2kg ultraportable, built for style conscious users seeking powerful mobility.

The unique Gemstone design has been created in conjunction with BMW Designworks.

The glossy 12.1-inch widescreen brings images to life, while Intel's latest GMA 4500MHD graphics chip provides 3D power for basic gaming and watching high-definition movies on the move.

A choice of processors from the Centrino 2 range is available, and is supported by up to 4096MB of DDR2 memory for powerful performance. The hard drive can be configured up to 320GB, while a 5-in-1 media card reader and a built-in DVD rewriter are also included.

Both Wi-Fi and Wi-Max support provide the fastest possible wireless connections over the furthest distances. A fingerprint scanner is also in place for protecting your most valuable data with a swipe of your finger and restricting unauthorised access to your laptop.

Powered by Windows Vista, users can choose from a range of editions, and pre-installed software includes McAfee's Internet Suite and Microsoft Works 9.0, to make the Acer a formidable ultraportable, well-suited to power-hungry laptop users with an eye for style.

Sony's VAIO brand is one of the most famous names in the laptop market.

With a reputation for stunning designs, powerful performance and reliable usability, the FW-Series packs the latest technology and provides the full high-definition entertainment experience.

The sleek and stylish silver chassis looks fantastic, while the 16.4-inch screen uses a 16:9 aspect ratio, to accurately show both standard definition and HD movies to their full potential.

Sony's glossy X-Black screen also delivers stunning colour and contrast.

Combining the latest Intel processors and ATi graphics solutions, high-performance is guaranteed for working on the move or editing HD videos. To improve screen brightness, high-end models use dual-lamp technology to effectively double the brightness of its rivals.

Up to 300GB of storage space is provided, as well as a built-in recordable Blu-ray drive for writing up to 50GB of data to compatible discs and watching the latest HD movie releases. Adobe Premiere Elements software is also installed for video editing straight from the box.

With its new design scheme and stunning performance, the FW-Series combines the mobility of a 15.4-inch laptop with the multimedia power of far larger systems. If you want the best portable entertainment centre you can buy, this may well be your perfect laptop.

Samsung has long provided a range of powerful ultraportable laptops, and now adds to the list with the 13.3-inch Q310.

With its glossy piano-black and red design, and powerful specification, this is as impressive an ultraportable as we've seen in years.

The non-scratch lid and so-called Protect-o-Edge casing combine to make this a tough laptop for the road.

The broad keyboard is even coated with nano-sized silver ion powder, to keep the keys bacteria free for as long possible to provide healthier long-term usability

The Intel Core 2 Duo processor can be configured up to 2.8GHz and as much as 4GB of memory brings high-performance support to the CPU. An nVidia GeForce 9200M GS chip with full DirectX 10 support provides powerful 3D performance.

As much as 320GB of hard drive storage can be added, and the built-in DVD rewriter lets you write up to 9.5GB of data to compatible dual-layer DVDs. A 7-in-1 card reader is also included to let you easily share files with your digital camera, camcorder and PDA.

Bringing one of the most comprehensive specifications and stylish designs we've seen to the ultraportable market, the Q310 continues Samsung's impressive range of powerhouse portables.

Asus is regularly one of the first to market with the latest Intel technology, and doesn't disappoint with the F8Va.

The slim 14.1-inch chassis and powerful performance are ideal for running high-powered applications, but the battery life unfortunately fails to impress.

Powered by an Intel 2.53GHz Core 2 Duo T9400 processor and 3GB of memory, this is one of the most powerful laptops we've seen to use Intel's Centrino 2 technology.

It flawlessly runs even the most demanding applications and lets you multi-task with speed and ease.

The 320GB hard drive is common compared to the other laptops listed here, but still provides comprehensive storage space for such a portable laptop. A dual-format DVD rewriter also lets you quickly and easily create your own CDs and DVDs, whether at home or on the move.

Mobility is below what we'd hoped for, as the battery only ran for a little over two hours during constant use. The unit we tested was a pre-production model however, so hopefully this is merely a bug with early units that will be carefully ironed out on full production units.

Graphics are provided by an ATi Mobility Radeon HD 3650 card, for smoothly editing photos and videos and even basic gaming. While the battery life is sure to deter frequent travellers, the raw performance on offer here make the Asus a great choice for high-powered home use.

MSI's high-powered gaming laptops have consistently impressed us, and the GX620 goes one step further.

By combining powerful 3D performance with strong mobility, it also adds a host of unique features along the way for a best-of-both-worlds approach.

The 15.4-inch laptop is driven by Intel's latest Core 2 Duo processors.

It uses an nVidia GeForce 9600M GT graphic card with 512MB of DDR3 memory to deliver fantastic 3D performance for gaming and home entertainment, including watching and editing HD videos.

The Eco Mode feature lets you quickly switch between five performance modes at the touch of a button. Depending on your immediate needs, you can choose to have the best performance or switch to a lower power setting to increase battery life when on the move.

With its Blu-ray drive and HDMI-out port, you can get the full HD experience whether by using the 15.4-inch screen or by connecting to an external HDTV. E-SATA support also lets you easily connect to high-speed storage devices for sharing data and backing up essential files.

By recognising the increasing need for both performance and long-term mobility, the unique power features of the GX620 aim to let users choose for themselves when to increase battery life and when to go full-throttle on performance, making it the choice of the mobile gamer.

Novatech adds to its already strong line-up of affordable yet powerful laptops with the release of the x50mv.

The 15.4-inch chassis packs a high-performance specification and a range of extra features, to deliver impressive usability at an affordable price.

The metallic chassis looks great, and houses the latest 45nm processors from Intel's Core 2 Duo range.

With a 1066MHz Front Side Bus, 6MB of Level 2 cache and up to 8GB of memory, the specification is among the best you can buy and promises powerhouse performance.

The glossy 15.4-inch screen is powered by an nVidia GeForce 9600M GT graphics card and uses 512MB of video memory for powerful 3D performance. Its 1680 x 1050 pixel WSXGA+ screen resolution provides sharp images ideal for gaming and photo editing.

Up to 200GB of storage space is provided, and the hard drive spins at 7200rpm for the fastest possible read and write speeds. Unfortunately there is currently no option to add a Blu-ray drive, but the built-in DVD rewriter lets you watch and create standard format DVDs.

With its affordable price and strong specification, the Novatech x50mv is a great choice for anyone looking for a powerful portable that won't break the back. While its lack of full HD compatibility will put some buyers off, there's still plenty to recommend here.