2008 Notebook Holiday Buyer’s Guide: General Use/Mainstream

by Reads (17,128)

Netbooks | Ultraportables | GENERAL USE/MAINSTREAM | Gaming and Multimedia | Business

“General Use” or “Mainsteam” notebooks are generally 14-inch or 15-inch “desktop replacement” notebooks that combine a nice selection of features and a low price in one attractive package … usually available online or at most retail stores. This category of notebooks derives its name from the fact that these notebooks generally try to meet a wide range of needs for a wide range of people. They aren’t as small and mobile as ultraportables, but they’re usually much cheaper than notebooks designed for gaming or high-performance multimedia use.

While 15-inch mainstream notebooks are usually too bulky to carry with you on a daily basis, there are still many consumers who find 14-inch notebooks to be the perfect balance between portability and usability. Mainstream notebooks are very popular with people who are looking for a full-featured yet affordable “family computer” but don’t need extreme performance, extreme mobility, or extreme ruggedness.

$400-$700

Dell Inspiron 15 (1525)


The Inspiron 1525 is a Core 2 Duo powered 15.4″ screen notebook from Dell. The Inspiron 1525 has Intel X3100 integrated graphics, an Intel Core 2 Duo processor and a thinner and lighter form factor than the previous Inspiron 1520.
The Inspiron 15 (1525) has remained in our Top 10 list of popular laptops for much of 2008, in no small part due to the great discounts available direct from Dell. If a great bargain is something you’re after then be sure to check out Coupon codes available for the Inspiron 1525 on our Dell Coupon page.

OUR REVIEW | USER OPINIONS | WHERE TO BUY

HP Pavilion dv5z and dv5t


The HP dv5t (Intel) and dv5z (AMD) Entertainment Notebook PCs are the replacement for the popular dv6700 series. These laptops deliver a 15.4″ Brightview display, dazzling high-gloss design, Intel’s Core Duo processors or AMD Turion X2 Ultra processors and the option to upgrade to Nvidia or ATI dedicated graphics cards.
If cost is a major concern, we recommend the dv5z with the latest generation of ATI integrated graphics that perform as well as many entry-level dedicated graphics cards. If you have a little more cash in your budget then we suggest the dv5t with Nvidia dedicated graphics.

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HP Pavilion dv4z dv4t


The HP dv4t (Intel) and dv4z (AMD) Entertainment Notebook PCs are the replacement for the popular dv2700 series. Essentially, these notebooks are smaller version of the dv5. This laptop delivers a 14.1″ Brightview display, dazzling high-gloss design, Intel’s Core Duo processors or AMD Turion X2 Ultra processors and the option to upgrade to Nvidia or ATI dedicated graphics cards.
If cost is a major concern, we recommend the dv4z with the latest generation of ATI integrated graphics that perform as well as many entry-level dedicated graphics cards. If you have a little more cash in your budget then we suggest the dv4t with Nvidia dedicated graphics.

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More Than $700

Acer 6920 “Gemstone Blue Series”


The all new 6920 Gemstone Blue series notebooks from Acer offer a cinematic experience with a 16-inch 16:9 ratio display, built-in subwoofer, and touch-sensitive multimedia control panel. Going beyond the multimedia experience, Acer also gave this Gemstone notebook one of the most innovative designs we have seen in years. From a semi-transparent LCD cover with an LED outlined company logo to blue LED illuminated chrome screen hinges Acer really went all out to make this notebook stand out from the competition.
This notebook qualifies as a multimedia or gaming notebook in more expensive configurations, but most retail stores offer the 6920 in configurations priced between $700 and $1,000 to keep the price friendly for mainstream consumers.

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Toshiba Satellite A305


The 15.4″ Toshiba Satellite A305 offers a fantastic design and a wide range of system options to fit in with almost any personal preference. You can buy the A305 in both Intel and AMD version, multiple types of graphics options including integrated graphics, as well as ATI 3470 and ATI 3650 dedicated graphics with HDMI out. The highest configuration with the ATI 3650 graphics enable you to handle most modern games with ease with a 3DMark06 score of over 3,800. The A305 is also one of the few 15″ notebooks that supports dual hard drives for easy expansion and future upgrades. The A305 Intel configurations start at $798, while A305D AMD models start at $699.

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Sony VAIO NR


What makes the VAIO NR series genuinely unique for Sony is that the starting price is less than $800 … making the NR the lowest-priced notebook the company has ever produced. You can configure a VAIO NR online at SonyStyle.com in a variety of colors or buy a stock configuration from various retailers.
The Sony VAIO NR is a stylish, affordable notebook with a solid set of features that is sure to be appealing to college students or anyone looking for an attractive notebook on a budget. It also features enough performance and build quality to keep most users happy.

OUR REVIEW | USER OPINIONS | WHERE TO BUY

Keep in mind this list doesn’t represent every great notebook currently on the market. Our holiday buyer’s guide is designed to highlight a few laptops we believe appeal to a wide range of people.

Remember, to get advice on which notebook to buy don’t just go with what’s popular, visit our What Notebook Should I Buy forum to ask what everyone else thinks you should buy based on your needs.

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