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Great laptops, but not cheap
Priyanka Joshi in New Delhi
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January 30, 2007

Here's a laptop that resembles an Apple MacBook, weighing a little over 1 kg and cutely compact with an 11.1-inch display. However, the Sahara-brand NB55132-CK66 is no cheap MacBook substitute.

At a price tag of Rs 79,999, Sahara gives you 512MB RAM, a 80GB hard disk drive, CPU that does 1.06GHz, a CD-RW/DVD drive and notebook bag. The operating system (OS), though, is Fedora instead of Windows (you can always load Windows if you want, but at an extra cost).

The NB55132-CK66 is for the "suave and style conscious audience," claims Sahara and it's almost true. The machine is packed with an Intel Core Solo Processor Ultra Low Voltage U1300 (2MB L2 Cache) -- not the fastest in the line.

However, if you are thinking of getting the fastest notebook in the market, do remember that regardless of how your machine fares today, it will be a tortoise compared to the next-generation ones.

Besides, a 'superfast' laptop consumes more power, which translates into a shorter battery life and the NB55132-CK66 can work 6 hours with Wi-Fi, which is decent but not enough. Sahara has made a laptop that is a head turner, thanks to its aesthetically-designed features and clean looks.

What could have been avoided The NB55132-CK66 reminds one of the Sony Vaio VGN-TX790P/W. Sony is also an 11.1 inch ultra-portable machine built on a platinum carbon-fibre casing, a 80 GB hard disk drive and the battery life easily tops 7 hours. Last, it was available in India for a listed price of around Rs 130,000.

So, why not opt for a look-alike and save a few thousands? You may just find a sweet spot for a Sahara notebook, if you compare its looks and performance with peers in the same price tag.

It does have some sore points, such as fan noise and a few technical glitches like when you let go of the touchpad, it still keeps scrolling and the only way to stop it is to touch the scroll area again (a non-issue, though). There is no Bluetooth or Infrared, but people do survive without these.

For all the technophile hipsters with eccentric gaming habits, you would be better off with a Sony Vaio S-series VGN-S460P or any notebook that is powered by NVIDIA GeForce Go 6200 graphics adaptor, a screen that is mor e than 13 inches and a RAM of 2GB. Sahara has not really tuned the NB55132-CK66 for games or graphic-intensive work.

Finally at CES 2007, Sahara has added three new tablet PCs, all loaded with the Microsoft Vista OS, to its portfolio. The three new tablets are the i440D, i440T, and the i417T with features that include a 12.1-inch XGA screen, a fingerprint reader, Bluetooth 2.0, 802.11 a/b/g WiFi, 802.11d QoS, a PCMCIA slot, and up to 4GB of RAM. The line-up sounds promising.

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