Notebook Holiday 2009 Buyer’s Guide

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There is still plenty of time left before the holidays, and shoppers who are looking for notebook computers are in luck. There are more laptops than ever before that are geared towards people with many different needs and interests. Whether you’re a student who needs a low-cost computer that fits in a small backpack, a gaming enthusiast who wants to play the brand new copy of Mass Effect 2 you got for Christmas, or a business traveler needing a rugged yet portable laptop, this guide will point you in the right direction.


This guide covers five different classes of laptop computers four of which — ultraportables, mainstream, gaming, and business — are considered full-featured notebooks that can handle just about any task you throw at them (depending on the configuration). The fifth class is made up of budget-oriented mobile internet companions: netbooks. Netbooks are smaller, cheaper, and generally less capable than full-featured notebooks, and are convenient portable PCs for email, internet access, or basic work like typing a Word document or PowerPoint presentation. Each section of our holiday guide contains recommendations within different price ranges for each class of laptop. Our goal is to help you find the notebook (or netbook) that will make the perfect holiday gift for family, friends and last, but not least, for yourself.


arrow Do you need a netbook?


The “netbook” form factor offers consumers a low-cost ultraportable notebook in a market segment where notebooks used to cost $1,500 or more. Since most netbooks cost less than $500, they are cheap enough to buy one in addition to your full-size notebook or desktop. These pint-sized laptops don’t have the power needed to become your mobile entertainment center, but a netbook can handle most daily tasks (like checking email or browsing the web) with ease. Buying the perfect netbook is easier than you think since currently the netbook category is one of the easiest computers for consumers to purchase. Most models on the market offer the same Intel Atom processor and Intel integrated graphics. The only thing that really separates netbook models (other than looks) is the type of storage they offer, the screen size, and the size of the battery. If you need more advice, check out the Netbook Section of our Holiday Buyers Guide.


A host of new netbooks and notebooks were announced in 2009 and our editors have highlighted some of the best laptops that we reviewed in our lab. In addition, thanks in part to the release of Windows 7 in October, many of these excellent laptops have lower prices just in time for holiday shopping. You can find some of the laptops in this guide at prices as low as $250 and find others that exceed $4,000. Obviously, higher priced notebooks have better build quality and better performance, but low-priced computers provide an excellent value for young students and adults who just need a laptop to stay connected.


Jump to: Netbooks | Ultraportables | Mainstream | Gaming | Business


arrow What’s so special about Windows 7?

Windows 7

If you haven’t been living in a cave since 2008, you’ve probably heard that Microsoft’s latest and greatest operating system, Windows 7, has made using a PC more enjoyable than ever before. In fact, many consumers are buying new PCs this holiday season just so they can start using Windows 7 on a brand new laptop. Take a look at the 12 things you should know about Windows 7 and our Windows Vista versus Windows 7 performance comparison before you make your next purchase. See for yourself if Windows 7 is good enough to make you buy a new PC.





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