The budget category of our back-to-school 2010 roundup collects retail-specific laptops on the lower end of the price scale, and should be of particular interest to students looking to upgrade their tech without spending too much.
Compared with previous years, and with the other categories in this year's back-to-school roundup, the budget-priced selections seem a little thinner than we'd like, with only one all-around standout. Part of that may be the economic climate, in which PC makers are less generous with features and components for budget systems, and have a desire to move buyers accustomed to $300 Netbooks into more mainstream-priced systems.
Most of the other laptops in this category had either single-core Intel processors or dual-core AMD processors, which generally were not as fast or had especially weak battery life or annoying design flaws. HP's
Note: Check out our roundup of retail laptops in all price ranges.
Check out details of each system below:
The bottom line: The Asus K501J-BBZ5 is a well-built, good-looking budget laptop with enough power for most students or home users; however, many would-be buyers will bemoan its lack of an HDMI port.
The bottom line: The entry-level Toshiba Satellite C665-S5049 won't turn any heads with its plain looks and modest features, but it avoids any serious misstep, a statement not every ultra-affordable laptop can make.
The bottom line: The HP Pavilion dv5-2035dx is an AMD-based laptop that straddles the line between budget and mainstream laptops. We like the updated design and can tolerate the merely average performance, but the new touch pad is an exercise in frustration.
The bottom line: The Toshiba Satellite L645D-S4030 is a decent all-around budget laptop. However, with its short battery life and cheaper options available from the competition, it's not an overly impressive deal.
The bottom line: Poor battery life and a stiff mouse button sour the deal for the otherwise attractive and affordable HP G62-225DX.
The bottom line: Sluggish performance is usually the deal breaker for an entry-level laptop, and though the single-core Compaq Presario CQ62-215DX is far from speedy, its biggest flaw isn't a lack of power but rather the finger power it requires to use the stiff mouse buttons.
The bottom line: We'd like the attractive and affordable Dell Inspiron iM501R-1212PBL more if it wasn't so slow and squeaky.