As the issues surrounding global warming, habitat destruction, and rising energy costs continue to grow around the world, lots of consumers are considering environmental issues when purchasing tech products. We take a look at some of the companies trying to make a difference, with 3 of the best eco-friendly notebooks available in 2010.
Before we take a look at the individual models, it is necessary to define the characteristics of an eco notebook, and just why you might be interested in buying one. A number of different factors come into play when distinguishing environmental tech products, from issues of energy efficiency through to the use of materials like the battery, hard drive, display, and even the packaging.
In terms of energy usage, smaller screens and less powerful CPUs generally have less of an impact. Small 10 inch netbooks can practically run all day, while large 17 inch monsters may only cope for a couple of hours away from the mains. However, the limited performance and small screens of netbooks are not enough for some people.
Luckily, a few laptop manufacturers have stepped up to the plate, with new energy efficient technology and batteries that can last longer than ever before. In terms of materials, there are also important decisions to make, with some plastics made from recycled materials and other companies making an effort with packaging. Some notebook displays also have mercury in them, which is hazardous when it comes to laptop disposal.
While these three ‘green’ notebooks are all fantastic, they might not be what you are looking for from a mobile computer. While it would be great if we all had access to a dedicated green machine, this is an unlikely scenario in the real world. If you are interested in an eco-friendly laptop, my advice is to make a list of the green features that are most important to you, and check out all the computers that fit the bill while also giving you the performace and features that you require.
ASUS U Series Bamboo Collection – U33JC
This laptop is a very capable and environmentally friendly notebook, with a style all of its own. The U33Jc is a member of the new ASUS U Series Bamboo Collection, a number of laptops featuring a bamboo/aluminium chassis. ASUS say there is 15% bamboo in the construction of these laptops, which give them both a standout eco-style and the environmental credentials to match.
ASUS are also shipping these notebooks with eco-friendly packaging, made from 100% recycled, natural bamboo pulp and non-woven packing cloth. While this is all very cool, the ASUS Bamboo series are also very capable notebooks even without the ‘warm fuzzy feeling’ that is attached. The U33JC features an Intel Core i3 370M processor, a 13 inch display, 4GB of RAM, and a 500GB hard drive. These specs differ on other members of the U Series family.
Graphics come courtesy of both an Intel HD and a 1GB Nvidea GeForce 310M, with dynamic swapping and manual selection both available. Connectivity is also good, with USB 3.0, a 5 in 1 card reader, and almost everything else you could imagine. One other important eco feature is the Asus Super Hybrid Engine power management software, which can keep this laptop running on battery power for nearly 8 hours in moderate use.
Sony Vaio W Series
This special edition Sony Vaio W eco edition notebook is made almost entirely from recycled materials. For instance, almost 80% of the plastic parts are recycled, including the top and bottom cover and the palm rest which are made from crushed DVDs and CDs. This is not the only environmental credentials that this laptop has going for it however, with a mercury-free 10.1 inch screen and an efficient 8.5 hour battery life.
Sony have made a huge commitment to the environmental cause in the last few years, reducing their CO2 emissions in Europe by 93% and using renewable energy in all of their plants. The W series is their most eco-friendly laptop yet, with an Intel Atom processor, 1366 x 768 resolution, 1GB of RAM, and a 250GB HDD.
Sony have also put a lot of effort into their packaging, with each new computer being delivered in a little black bag that is made entirely from recycled PET bottles. The laptop manual size has also been reduced to save paper, with a full-size i-Manual available as a PDF file. Despite its small size and ‘not particularly powerful’ performance, the Sony W Series is the flagship product of the new Sony eco-friendly attitude.
The Apple MacBook is an energy efficient notebook that uses recycled materials and is free from toxins and excessive packaging. Apple have made a number of environmental considerations during the past few years, and are defineltly the masters of eco-marketing. The MacBook uses an advanced power management system, that uses a combination of hardware and software components.
The Apple MacBook has received the maximum energy rating by the EPA, with ENERGY STAR 5.0 signifying low power consumption. The on-board battery has also been designed to last longer – up to five years or 1000 recharges. Some of the materials used in MacBook construction include high-grade polycarbonate, aluminium, and magnesium, all of which can be recycled and used in other products at the time of disposal.
MacBooks come in a wide range of configurations, from the relatively affordable 13.3 inch design with 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo through to more expensive 15 and 17 inch MacBook Pros with Intel Core i5 and i7 processors. The MacBook Air is also available, a revolutionary design that only weighs 1.36 kg and still manges to squeeze in NVIDEA graphics and a 13.3 inch display.
In terms of individual laptops, these three definitely stand out in terms of their green appeal. However, all laptops are quite eco-friendly when compared to their energy hogging desktop relatives. If you are concerned with environment issues when doing your notebook shopping, here are a few simple things to keep in consideration.
Firstly, the energy efficiency of each notebook, especially in relation to the display size and the processor power. Secondly, the materials that are in use throughout the chassis, the screen, and the packaging. And thirdly, the overall reputation of the individual company in question.
If you are interested in shopping green, Greenpeace have conducted a detailed report into all of the major technology manufacturers. With regard to laptop products, Sony, Apple, Panasonic, and HP are leading the way, followed by Dell, Acer, Toshiba, Fujitsu, and – lastly – Lenovo.