CNET's back-to-school 2010 retail desktop and laptop review roundup
The latest wave of new back-to-school laptops and desktops for 2010 is here, and we've been scouring the shelves of big retail stores to find boxed versions of these popular PCs, from entry-level systems starting at $250 to massive $1,200 gaming monsters.
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Joshua Goldman is a senior editor for CNET Reviews, covering laptops and the occasional action cam or drone and related accessories. He has been writing about and reviewing consumer technology and software since 2000.
Rich moved his family from Brooklyn to Louisville, Kentucky, in 2013 to start CNET's Appliances and Smart Home review team, which includes the CNET Smart Home, the CNET Smart Apartment, and the Appliances Review lab. Before moving to Louisville, Rich ran CNET's desktop computer review section for 10 years. He has worked as a tech journalist since 1994, covering everything from 3D-printed guns to Z-Wave smart locks.
I started with CNET reviewing laptops in 2009. Now I explore wearable tech, VR/AR, tablets, gaming and future/emerging trends in our changing world. Other obsessions include magic, immersive theater, puzzles, board games, cooking, improv and the New York Jets.
With the back-to-school season upon us, many laptop and desktop shoppers are looking for a new system suitable for dorm room living or high school homework. We've hit the well-stocked store shelves of brick-and-mortar retail stores to find boxed versions of popular PCs, from entry-level systems starting at less than $300, to $1,000-plus high-end multimedia and gaming rigs.
These specific retail models are similar to those you'd be able to configure online from companies such as Dell and HP, but they may have slightly different names and features. Also worth noting, thanks to frequent retail discounts, they can sometimes be a better deal than buying directly from a PC maker.
In addition to browsing the list below, if you pick up a Sunday newspaper sales circular to look for onsale computers, be sure to check here for a review for that specific model number before heading out to the store.
We've got a preview of the entire list of models that will be included in our retail review roundup, and we'll update this page with the final ratings and live links as the systems get reviewed over the next several weeks.
Netbooks Asus 1018PB-BK801 [4 stars] Dell iM1012-1091OBK [3.5 stars] HP Mini 210-1199DX [3.5 stars] Samsung N150-11 [3.5 stars]
Budget Dell Inspiron iM501R-1212PBL [2.5 stars] Toshiba C655-S5049 [3 stars] Asus K50IJ-BBZ5 [3.5 stars] HP Pavilion dv5-2035dx [3 stars] HP Compaq G62-225DX [3 stars] Toshiba L645D-S4030 [3 stars] HP Compaq CQ62-215DX [2.5 Stars]
Mainstream Dell s1558-5691MSL [3.5 stars] Gateway ID49C07u [3.5 stars] HP Pavilion dv5-2045dx [3.5 stars] HP Pavilion dv6-3055dx [3 stars] Sony EA24FM/W [4 stars] Asus K50IJ-BNC5 [3 stars] Toshiba A665-S6050 [4 stars] Asus UL80J-BBK5 [3 stars] HP Pavilion dm4-1065dx [4 stars] Dell Inspiron i14R-2265MRB [3.5 stars] Samsung Q430-11 [4 stars]
High-end Sony Vaio F126FM/B [3.5 stars] Toshiba A665-S6070 [3.5 stars] Apple MacBook Spring 2010 [4 stars] Sony Vaio F12AFM/H [4 stars] Toshiba Portege R705-P25 [4 stars, Editors' Choice]
Budget (up to $599) HP Pavilion Slimline s5510y [2 stars] Dell Inspiron i560-2050NBK [2.5 stars] Asus Essentio CM5671-05 [3 stars] HP Pavilion p6510y [3.5 stars] Gateway SX2801-01e [3.5 stars, EC] Dell Inspiron i570-7034PBK [3 stars]
Mainstream (up to $899) Apple Mac Mini [3.5 stars] Gateway DX4840-03e [3.5 stars] Asus Essentio CM5675-07 [3 stars] HP Pavilion p6540y [3.5 stars] Dell Studio XPS 8100-1408-NBC [3.5 stars]
High-end ($950 and higher) Asus Essentio CG1330-05 [2.5 Stars] Gateway FX6840-03E [3 stars]
All-in-one HP TouchSmart 300-1120 [2.5 stars] Gateway ZX6900-01e [3.5 stars] Apple iMac (21.5-inch) [3.5 stars]