E-commerce is open again. This means you can now order from Amazon and Flipkart and the orders will be delivered to you in all parts of the country, except in containment zones. This must come as a great relief for those who suddenly shifted to the world from home routine ahead of the lockdown to flatten the COVID curve, a few weeks ago. Chances are, you may not have had a good laptop or PC at home, for it perhaps wasn't really a critical requirement thus far. But now, you can buy a new laptop or PC to rock the work from home situation, and not be bogged down by an aging and sluggish PC, a bad keyboard, a cracked screen or something you were simply bored of. It is also expected that work from home will be quite a regular thing for a lot of workers in a lot of companies, which means you should be armed with a good computing device.
Do not make the same mistake again of thinking the smartphone can be a PC replacement, because when it really comes down to it, you will need a laptop to get genuine work done. Here are some of the best budget laptops, some running Windows 10 and some Google Chromebook options, which you must add to your arsenal of work from home tools. So that this purchase remains light on your pocket, we are looking at laptops under the Rs 40,000 price point—to get the perfect blend between performance and longevity without breaking the bank. Plus, they should look good too.
HP Chromebook x360 - 12b-ca0006tu
The biggest advantage of the Google Chrome OS software for computing devices is the sheer simplicity of everything. It is incorrect to assume that you must be locked into the Google ecosystem to be able to use a Chromebook—the variety of apps available for the Chrome OS is as wide as Android phones. That is why the full-fledged Play Store is also available on the Chromebooks. Microsoft’s Word, Excel and PowerPoint apps? The Spotify app? Video streaming apps. You name it, and the whole wide world of productivity, utility and entertainment apps are available. For any Android phone user, the switch could prove to be close to seamless—and that is a genuine value addition. In fact, this works brilliantly with the Intel Celeron N4000 processor with 4GB RAM, 64GB internal storage and a card slot if you wish to use that for adding more storage space. What's most interesting is the square-is aspect ratio of the 12-inch display, and the hinge allows it to be folded all the way back into a sort of a tablet mode. Windows machines have never performed as well on this sort of hardware.
Dell Inspiron 14 5490
Around Rs 35,585
This started out with a price tag above the Rs 40,000 mark but price corrections have now pushed this beneath that virtual ceiling we have for this buying advice. That means you get the newer 10th generation Intel Core i3-10110U processor with 4GB RAM and a fast 512GB SSD. There is a 14-inch Full HD display which should do well for most productivity and entertainment tasks. The keyboard is not backlit though—perhaps you need to keep that in mind in case working in a dimly lit room is your thing. Dell’s ExpressCharge Boost tops up a fully discharged battery to 35% in 20 minutes and up to 80% in 60 minutes—great if you need to splash and dash. Then there is the Dell Mobile Connect app which pairs your iPhone or Android smartphone with your laptop, which mirrors most things from your phone on the laptop itself, thereby reducing distractions.
Lenovo IdeaPad 330
Around Rs 19,990
If you really are on a strict budget, the Lenovo IdeaPad 330 (model number: 330-15IKB) could be a steady enough pick. Do not expect this to be powerful or do anything more than basic computing, but what you get is a comfortable 15.6-inch HD display. This runs an Intel Celeron processor, along with 4GB RAM. There is a 1TB hard drive, and these basic specs are really all you should expect at this price. While there are many similarly priced laptops that don’t give you a preloaded Windows 10 operating system, this one does—and that is very important. A keyboard that is well laid out and the build quality doesn’t really betray its budget price tag.
Acer Aspire 5 A515-43
Around Rs 38,369
This started out in life with a price tag around Rs 50,000 and that means you get specifications which are quite powerful. This runs the AMD Ryzen 5 3500U quad-core processor (for some reason, many potential laptop buyers still have a bit of mistrust towards AMD machines). This has 4GB of RAM to get Windows 10 and your apps purring along. What should also make a difference is the 512GB SSD, which will speed up performance. You get a 15.6-inch Full HD IPS display. The keyboard isn’t backlit. The laptop weighs around 1.8kg. You should probably also consider this if you are taken in by the large screen goodness of the Lenovo IdeaPad S145 (model number 81W800FXIN).
Lenovo IdeaPad S145
Around Rs 35,010
We are specifically talking about the Lenovo IdeaPad S145 (model number 81W800FXIN) which runs the Intel Core i3-1005G1 processor with 4GB RAM and 256GB SSD. It looks like it means business and has the sort of serious personality that most good productivity centric machines have. This is ideal if you prefer large displays—this has a 15.6-inch Full HD screen for you to work on. Not the lightest, tipping the scales at 1.85kg, but that’s the compromise for a large screen laptop. You will quite like the keyboard, which has the sort of inspiration from the more expensive ThinkPad laptops, which make these genuinely good to type on. Lenovo also doesn’t clutter Windows 10 too much by preloading apps, which should also be good in the long run.
HP Notebook - 15s-du0093tu
And this price point, you get multiple laptops running the older generation Intel Core processors as well as some Celeron versions. However, this HP Notebook - 15s-du0093tu should hold up well with the Intel Core i3-8145U processor, with 8GB RAM and a 1TB hard drive. What you get is a 15-inch Full HD display, Windows 10 preloaded and six months of 25GB bundled Dropbox storage. This weighs 1.74kg and is 19.9mm thick. You also get a fingerprint sensor as an added authentication layer to keep your data safe. The HP Fast Charge feature charges a fully discharged laptop battery to 50% in 45 minutes, which should be handy in case you need to get stuff done in a hurry and don’t have access to power at the time. Oh, and the keyboard is backlit too.