Laptops (spring 2010)CNET editor Dan Ackerman shows you Windows-based Netbooks and latops, MacBook Pros, and iPads you should be taking a look at.
[ Music ] ^M00:00:08 >> I'm Dan Ackerman, and there's never a bad time to update basic laptop buying advice, but now is an especially good time because even though laptops today pretty much look like they did six months or a year ago, the components inside have really changed a lot in 2010, so it's really a perfect opportunity to update our basic laptop buying advice. Now, netbooks today are as popular as ever, and that's because for about $299.00, you can get a pretty easy, on-the-go computing experience. However, the components inside the net books have changed a lot. Starting in 2010, we've got the new Intel Atom N450 processor. Now, these new netbooks that have that N450, they're not a heck of a lot faster than last year's models, but the battery life is a lot better. We are seeing six, seven, even more hours of battery just from a basic netbook like this. Now, we're also seeing net books that try to jack up the price a little bit, going from $299.00 to maybe $399.00 or $499.00 by adding some premium upscale features. Sometimes, like in the case of this Toshiba NB305, you're going to see a bigger touchpad and a nicer keyboard. Other times, you're going to see Windows 7 Premium instead of Windows 7 Starter, or you're going to see a higher resolution screen, and maybe if you're lucky, some basic graphics option like NVIDIA's ion chip that will let you play HD video and even some basic games on a netbook. Now, the mainstream laptops, those 14 and 15-inch models that you find in your -- you know, your den or your home office, well, those have gotten a pretty good under-the-hood upgrade as well. They've all got Intel's new series of core [inaudible], a Core I3, Core I5, and Core I7. And what you're going to find is improved performance and improved battery life over last year's Core 2 Duo version. In some cases, it's pretty dramatic, in other cases, less so. You're going to find a lot of really good mainstream systems, like the Dell Studio 15, basic 15-inch laptop. Once you have that Core I5 to it, you're going to get better performance and better battery life over last year. If you try something like the Toshiba E205, it's going to have stuff like Intel's new wireless display technology. What that does is it takes the signal from your laptop's screen, sends it to your HDTV. You just plug a little adapter into the back, and it's great for watching movies. There's a bit of a fraction of a second delay, so not great for gaming or Web surfing. But you play a video on here, and then you can watch it on your big screen TV. And, of course, if you're more business minded, let's say you're running a small business out of your home or you're a freelancer, well then Lenova, of course, has their ThinkPad line. Those have those Core Series chips, too. And here's a great bargain-hunting tip. If you look for something with the Intel Core I3 CPU, you're going to find those in less-expensive mainstream models. You're going to get almost the same performance and battery life as you do out of the more expensive Core I5 models, but save a couple bucks in the process. Whenever we see the Core I3 listed on the laptop, we think you're probably going to find a pretty good deal. And of course, Apple's MacBook laptops, pretty much in a category by themselves. They actually just did a bunch of updates to the MacBook Pro line. What they did was they added the Core I7 and Core I5 chips to the 15 and 17-inch models. The 13-inch MacBook Pro model didn't get the same level of upgrade, but it's still pretty much the same really good system it was last year. You also get, in the 15 and 17-inch systems, discrete graphics by default, now. And even better, instead of having to go into a menu and switch those discrete graphics off and on, it just turns on automatically when you need it, like when you start a game, or you start a video-editing program. So you save yourself a little hassle that we, and you'll probably get better battery life because it'll turn off the extra graphics when you're not using them just automatically, by itself. Of course, these are still super premium laptops. You're definitely going to pay for the privilege of having a MacBook Pro, but if you're doing stuff like video editing and photo editing, there are very few other go to choices out there. So of course, our last category is something that may or may not be a laptop at all. People argue whether it's a netbook with the keyboard missing, or whether it's a portable media player that also does word processing and email. It is Apple's iPad Tablet. And the reality is probably somewhere in between those two. It really is a hybrid device. It plays all those apps, obviously, and does a lot of movies and games really well, but it also does basic word processing. It does really great web surfing, and you could even do the e-mail on it. Now, is this going to replace your regular laptop or desktop? Definitely not. Is it going to replace your netbook that you take with you on business trips? Well, probably not that either, but if you're going to the coffee shop or you're taking a plane trip somewhere were going on vacation, you might take the iPad with you instead of the netbook because you can do web surfing on it, and you can do some basic word processing and basic e-mail, just the basic message is that you want to send back and forth while you're on vacation or something or just out for the day. But no matter what you call it, or what category you put it in, there's one thing we've figured out, and that's people seem pretty crazy about the Apple iPad so far. So hopefully, this guide has given you a good head start on your next laptop purchase. Don't be afraid to ask questions. Do your research. And of course, always check out the latest laptop reviews on CNET.com. I'm Dan Ackerman. Thanks for watching. ^M00:04:24 [ Music ]