Dell sells two budget models, the Inspiron B120 and B130. Starting at approximately $500, the B120 is the least expensive laptop in Dell's portfolio and features a 14.1-inch wide-screen display, a low-end Intel Celeron processor, either 256MB or 512MB of RAM (we recommend shelling out for the 512MB), and a CD-RW/DVD-ROM drive. With such anemic components, the B120 is strictly for basic tasks such as e-mail, Web surfing, word processing, and other lightweight apps.

The slightly heavier Inspiron B130, which starts at about $549, offers a similar choice of lower-end components, along with options for a more middle-range Pentium M processor, up to 1GB of RAM, and the choice of a 14.1-inch or 15.4-inch wide-screen display. Though the Pentium processor should deliver somewhat better performance and battery life, the B130 still resides in the basic class of laptops.