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Best Notebooks of the Year

Having tested, examined, and reviewed 130 notebooks in 2009, we’ve narrowed the field of the truly worthy to 14. Find the one that’s right for you.

by Michael A. Prospero, Reviews Editor on Wednesday, November 04, 2009

bnoy_new_shTake a look at the computing section of our 2009 Gadget Gift Guide and you can see that it was a momentous year for notebooks: Apple and Microsoft released new operating systems, both offering more intuitive interfaces along with snappier performance. Intel launched several new processors, some of which help laptops last up to 10 hours on a charge, and one that shattered every benchmark we had. Aided by Windows 7, touchscreens started gaining traction, and graphics started to play a much larger role beyond games (even in netbooks).

It’s one thing to have access to this technology, but quite another to implement it well. The laptops that made our list not only embody these new innovations, they surround them with designs that are attractive and comfortable to use for extended periods. It’s this combination of cutting-edge components, aesthetics, and ergonomics that separates the best of the best from the also-rans.

As featured on "Into Tomorrow...with Dave Graveline", airing this Friday, December 18!

Best Notebooks of the Year


Thin-and-Light Winner: Apple MacBook Pro (13-inch)

Price: $1,199

This work of art offers impressive endurance, lasting longer than 6 hours on our tests, and also features a spacious multitouch-enabled touchpad.
Continue . . .


Thin-and-Light Finalist: Dell Studio 14z

Price: $749

This classy thin-and-light machine forgoes a DVD drive, but makes up for it with powerful features.
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Budget Winner: Gateway NV5807u

Price: $599

Proving that a budget notebook doesn’t mean you have to make sacrifices, the Gateway NV Series combines good performance (courtesy of its 2.1-GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T6500 and 4GB of RAM) with a dash of style.
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Budget Finalist: Acer Aspire 7735Z (4357)

Price: $599

It's not often you find a 17-inch notebook for less than $600, but Acer managed just that with this affordable desktop replacement.
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Netbook Winner: HP Mini 311

Price: $399

Featuring Nvidia’s discrete Ion LE graphics, the Mini 311 on our tests offered 12 times the performance of netbooks with integrated graphics.
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Netbook Finalist: Toshiba Mini NB205-N330

Price: $419

The Toshiba NB205-N330 has the best touchpad we’ve ever used on a netbook, and one of the most comfortable keyboards.
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Ultraportable Winner: ASUS UL30A

Price: $799

Powered by one of Intel’s Ultra-Low Voltage processors, this 13.3-inch system by ASUS offers nearly 10 hours of battery life in a sleek 4.0-pound chassis.
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Ultraportable Finalist: Acer Aspire Timeline 1810T

Price: $599

Ultraportable Finalist: The Timeline 1810T looks like a netbook, but offers a lot more muscle.
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Business Winner: Lenovo Thinkpad T400s

Price: $2,134

Business Winner: It may have a 14-inch screen, but the T400’s carbon fiber lid helps drop this notebook’s weight to a lithe 3.9 pounds.
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Business Finalist: HP ProBook 5310m

Price: $799

The aggressively priced HP ProBook 5310M has a black anodized aluminum lid and deck, and a sleek island-style keyboard.
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Gaming Winner: Toshiba Qosmio X505 (Q850)

Price: $1,899

This slick black-and-red Toshiba includes a bevy of entertainment options, including a Blu-ray drive, a gorgeous 18.4-inch full HD display, and a pair of Harman Kardon stereo speakers.
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Gaming Finalist: Alienware M15x

Price: $2,574

One of the fastest and meanest 15-inch notebooks we’ve ever tested, this Core i7 machine by Alienware absolutely shredded through the latest gaming titles without blinking.
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Touch Winner: Lenovo ThinkPad X200 Tablet (Multitouch)

Price: $2,075

We love the X200 in all its forms, and the multitouch X200 with Windows 7 Professional will, we think, win you over too.
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Touch Finalist: Fujitsu Lifebook T4410

Price: $1,649

Fujitsu’s latest convertible provides a very good Windows 7 multitouch experience.
Continue . . .

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