In our, 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
Note: For a roundup of retail laptops in all price ranges,.
Check out details of each system below:
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.
The bottom line: The Gateway NV5207u is certainly above average for the money, but its processor is a dog.
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.
The bottom line: The Dell Inspiron i1545-4374PBU is a good, if basic, laptop with a strong price-to-performance ratio.
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.
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.
The bottom line: A large-screen laptop with very good performance, the Gateway NV7802u is an attractive choice for home or office.
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.
The bottom line: The Sony Vaio VGN-NW240F is a well designed mainstream notebook with respectable performance and features for the money.
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.