Our top budget retail laptop for Holiday 2009: the Toshiba Satellite A505-S6980

In the "Budget" category, covering laptops up to $699, we found a large collection of largely indistinguishable systems, along with a few that stood out as particularly good or bad. Almost any of these will provide a decent low-end experience, as long as

In our current roundup of retail-specific laptops , we've divided our 25-plus systems into four different price categories, from sub-$700 budget models to high-end ones that cost more than $1,000.

In the "Budget" category, covering laptops up to $699, we found a collection of largely indistinguishable systems, along with a few that stood out as particularly good or bad. Most of these will provide a decent low-end experience, as long as you stick to one of the models with a dual-core CPU.

Our favorite, by a hair, was the Toshiba Satellite A505-S6980, with an Intel Core 2 Duo T6600 CPU and a big 500GB hard drive.

Note: For a roundup of retail laptops in all price ranges, check here .

Check out details of each system below:

Toshiba Satellite L455-S5975
The bottom line: While it's hard to argue with a $330 laptop, the old-fashioned-looking L455-S5975 cuts some serious corners to get you a package that will suit only basic users.
Read the full review here.

Gateway NV5207u
The bottom line: The Gateway NV5207u is certainly above average for the money, but its processor is a dog.
Read the full review here.

Asus K60IJ-RBLX05
The bottom line: Although the Asus K60IJ-RBLX05 is an affordable 16-inch budget laptop, it's missing the processing punch and features that can be had for just a little more money.
Read the full review here.

Dell Inspiron i1545-4374PBU
The bottom line: The Dell Inspiron i1545-4374PBU is a good, if basic, laptop with a strong price-to-performance ratio.
Read the full review here.

Toshiba Satellite T135-S1309
The bottom line: For a budget Windows 7 thin-and-light that won't need to recharge often, you could do a lot worse than the Toshiba Satellite T135-S1309.
Read the full review here.

HP Pavilion dv4-2045dx
The bottom line: As long as you're not looking for extremely long battery life, the HP Pavilion dv4-2045dx is a well-rounded mainstream budget laptop with above average looks and performance.
Read the full review here.

Gateway NV7802u
The bottom line: A large-screen laptop with very good performance, the Gateway NV7802u is an attractive choice for home or office.
Read the full review here.

Toshiba Satellite A505-S6980
The bottom line: Good design and some really nice-sounding speakers round out the Toshiba Satellite A505-S6980, a very affordable mainstream laptop with excellent battery life for its size.
Read the full review here.

Sony Vaio VGN-NW240F
The bottom line: The Sony Vaio VGN-NW240F is a well designed mainstream notebook with respectable performance and features for the money.
Read the full review here.

Asus UL50AG-RBBBK05
The bottom line: The design and portability of the Asus UL50AG make it one of the slickest 15.6-inch DVD-drive-equipped laptops we've seen, but an ultralow-voltage processor compromises its computing power.
Read the full review here.

About the author

Dan Ackerman leads CNET's coverage of laptops, desktops, and Windows tablets, while also writing about games, gadgets, and other topics. A former radio DJ and member of Mensa, he's written about music and technology for more than 15 years, appearing in publications including Spin, Blender, and Men's Journal.

 

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