Back-to-school 2010 retail Netbook roundup

Find out which Netbook came out on top in the Back to School 2010 version of our retail laptop roundup.

In our back-to-school 2010 roundup of retail-specific laptops, we've divided our 25-plus systems into four different price categories, from sub-$600 budget models to high-end ones that cost more than $1,000.

In the "Netbook" category, we looked at three off-the-shelf models that cost between $349 and $399. In terms of hardware and components, they stuck with the standard Intel Atom N450 CPU (except for the HP Mini 210, which has a variation called the N455, allowing for newer DDR3 RAM), along with 1GB of RAM and 250GB hard drives.

Though we applaud the Dell Mini 10 for including a WiMax antenna, the limited availability of the service makes it hard to justify the $100 premium you'll pay over entry-level Netbooks, unless you live in a WiMax-enabled city (chances are you don't). Our overall favorite ended up being the Asus Eee PC 1018, which upgrades to a new design that's thin, sturdy, and attractive, with brushed metal replacing the usual plastic.

Note: Check out our roundup of retail laptops in all price ranges.

Check out details of each system below:

Asus Eee PC 1018PB
The bottom line: Asus reboots the Eee PC series (at least aesthetically) with this slick-looking metallic Netbook, the Eee PC 1018.
Read the full review.

HP Mini 210-1199DX
The bottom line: It has one of the best keyboard-and-touch-pad combos we've seen on a 10-inch Netbook, but HP's pink-hued Mini 210 is still a little pricey for what you get.
Read the full review.

Samsung N150-11
The bottom line: Samsung's solid N150 Netbook feels very roadworthy, but other Netbooks have a longer battery life.
Read the full review.

Dell Inspiron Mini iM1012-1091OBK
The bottom line: This retail version of Dell's Inspiron Mini 10, called the iM1012-1091OBK, is the first WiMax Netbook we've seen, but that may not be of much use, depending on where you live.
Read the full review.

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