Yesterday, we saw the best laptops at any price. But what about their little brothers, the netbooks? Quite simply, here are the three best models that you should choose from, provided by Mark Spoonauer from Laptop:
Toshiba mini NB205
Starting Price: $399.99 ($382.36 now at Amazon)
If you're going to be staring at a 10-inch screen for hours on end you deserve a design that doesn't feel claustrophobic, and the 3-pound NB205 delivers with the biggest touchpad in its class and a spacious chiclet-style keyboard. This netbook doesn't look cheap either, thanks to the textured lid and slick color options (black, white, pink, blue or brown). We're not fans of Windows 7 Crippled Edition, but the NB205's nearly 9 hours of battery life and 250GB hard drive make this $399 machine a great deal. [Review]
HP mini 311
Starting Price: $399
What a difference Nvidia graphics make. This Atom+Ion-powered netbook can not only handle mainstream games like World of Warcraft without breaking a sweat, it takes full advantage of Flash Player 10.1's hardware acceleration for dramatically smoother Hulu playback on the 11.6-inch screen (or bigger screen via HDMI). You can even edit video on this 3.2-pound powerhouse, which comes with a stylish HP Swirl pattern in black or white. If you care about longer battery life, get the cheaper Windows XP version.
[Windows XP Review] [Windows 7 Review]
Starting Price: $384.99
Samsung made a splash last year with its first netbooks for the U.S., and the $399 N140 builds upon the success of the NC10 but modernizing the design, adding Windows 7 (though it's Starter), and beefing up the hard drive to 250GB. Available with a burgundy or blue lid and outlined with silver trim, this Atom machine performs like other netbooks but features a glare-free matte display and comfy keyboard. You also get decent audio courtesy of SRS Sound. [Review]
Mark Spoonauer is the editor-in-chief of Laptop Magazine and Laptopmag.com, which reviewed over 130 notebooks and netbooks during 2009. To see all of their top picks of the year, click here.