Notebook Buyers Guide: Spring 2009

Notebook Buyers Guide: Spring 2009

Whether you’re waiting until the last minute to pick out your Mother’s Day gift, trying to find an early Father’s Day present, or searching for a laptop for your kid’s graduation, you can relax. The team at has you covered with a special Moms, Dads, and Grads Buyer’s Guidefeaturing a variety of laptops to fit any budget.

Since most people don’t have unlimited funds to spend on a gift we’ve broken our picks down by price. Within each price range we’ve provided a few suggestions so you can find the perfect gift regardless of whether your family member is serious about computers, serious about style, or just wants to get with the times.

If you don’t see the perfect gift in our list, be sure to seek out buying advice in our What Notebook Should I Buy? discussion forum, and our forum members, moderators, and staff will graciously offer their insight in helping you pick the best laptop for your family.

Under $500| $500-$1,000| Over $1,000| More Guides…

Under $500

HP Mini 2140

The HP Mini 2140 has the best build quality and best keyboard out of any netbook we have reviewed. While you are comfortably typing away on its spacious keyboard you will be happy to know it offers an EPEAT Gold rating and an Energy Star certification. This model isn’t as power efficient as other netbook models, but what it lacks in battery life it makes up with its almost full-size keyboard and solid chassis.

ASUS Eee PC 1000HE

The ASUS 1000HE made our gift list through the use of a more efficient Intel Atom processor that gave this system improved battery life over other netbooks. This netbook stayed powered for 7 hours and 36 minutes during our testing, which is a huge plus for mobile users. Power efficiency which equates to long battery life is something all consumers can enjoy. Likewise, the small size makes this netbook perfect for students or moms who need to stay connected on the go.

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 and up. With most netbooks costing less than $500, they are cheap enough to buy one in addition to your full-size notebook. With the vast majority offering Intel Atom processors, these portable computers can handle most daily tasks with ease. Buying the perfect netbook is easier than you think since currently the netbook standard 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 is the type of storage medium they use, the screen size, and the size of the battery. If you need more advice, check out our Netbook Buyer’s Guide.

Lenovo IdeaPad S10

The 10-inch IdeaPad offered in black, red, and white provides one feature not usually found on netbooks. The S10 has an ExpressCard slot on the side for an external WWAN card so you can stay connected on the road. It is not surprising to see business related features on this netbook, considering it comes from the company that builds the ThinkPad. Prices start at $349 and currently both a 3-cell battery and 6-cell battery option is offered.


HP Pavilion dv2

The newest 12-inch notebook from HP is no ordinary ultra-portable laptop. Featuring the new AMD Athlon Neo processor, the HP Pavilion dv2 promises to bridge the gap between low-performance netbooks and higher-priced ultra-portable notebooks. This thin and light laptop can handle 1080p Blu-ray movies or even get you to the next level of your favorite video game. The HP Pavilion dv2 is thin and light enough that it can replace a netbook, and it has enough performance to replace a full-size notebook. The only people who might need more performance are extreme gamers and people who need extreme processor speed and multiple cores for multitasking work like encoding two or more video formats simultaneously.

Dell Studio 15

The Dell Studio 15 is a 15.4-inch multimedia laptop offered in multiple colors and configurations. The Studio 15 can be equipped with an Intel Core 2 Duo and dedicated ATI graphics. It comes with a slot-loading DVD drive or Blu-ray player, backlit keyboard, sleek drop-hinge design, widescreen glossy display and touch sensitive buttons. Software wise the Dell Studio 15 also includes a unique Dell Dock that is similar to the Apple Mac OS X launch dock for easy access to your favorite applications and easy control over various notebook settings.

How to order online

If you’re looking to buy a new laptop and have visited any manufacturer’s website, chances are you’ve been overwhelmed by the variety of choices you have to make. Should you select an Intel or AMD processor? How much RAM is enough? Which version of Windows do you need? What about the graphics? Our Guide To Buying A Notebook Onlinetakes you step-by-step through the features in a laptop and gives you advice so you can buy the notebook you want without spending more than you need.

HP Pavilion dv4t

The HP dv4t 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-inch Brightview display, dazzling high-gloss design, Intel’s Core Duo processors and the option to upgrade to a Nvidia dedicated graphics card.

Over $1,000

HP EliteBook 2530p

The EliteBook 2530p is a 12.1-inch portable business laptop with an EPEAT Gold rating and an Energy Star certification. This system earned an Editor’s Choice award for having excellent performance, great battery life, and very good build quality. If you’re looking for something slightly larger and more powerful, the 15″ EliteBook 8530w with DreamColor display also carries the EPEAT Gold rating.

Apple MacBookand MacBook Pro

Apple has gone a long way in making one of the most recognizable eco-friendly new notebooks with the latest MacBook and MacBook Pro series. The notebooks share a design that is carved out of a solid piece of aluminum to increase strength, decrease weight, and reduce waste by reclaiming all of the unused material. Harmful chemicals like mercury are also eliminated by moving to a LED-backlight system instead using cathodes as a light source. Materials used for packaging have been reduced through better shipping box designs, creating smaller boxes. These are convenient for the customer as well as Apple, since they fit more notebooks onto a shipping pallet, reducing the transportation costs. Battery life has been improved over past models by using the LED-backlit system and more efficient components.

Lenovo ThinkPad T400

The Lenovo T400 is a 14.1-inch business notebook offering hybrid graphics technology that let the user switch graphic card modes depending on the situation at hand. This model offers a very efficient LED-backlit display which when combined with other power friendly components allows this notebook to have almost 10 hours of runtime on battery. That time tops the charts for any other notebook in its class, making it a clear winner when it comes to power efficiency.

Looking for more?

Has Dad been dropping hints that he’d really like an iPhone this year rather than another #1 Dad mug? Is your grad ready for a new notebook? Let the editors of help you pick the right camera, smartphone, printer, desktop, or notebook, with our Moms, Dads and Grads Buyer’s Guide.

To see our top tech picks in all categories – not just notebooks – visit our main buyer’s guide page on





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