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Editor's Note: On January 31 Intel announced that it had halted shipments of its recently unveiled 6-series chipset, code-named Cougar Point, that accompanies its latest Sandy Bridge processors due to a flaw that can affect access to a hard-disk drive, optical drive, or other SATA connected devices. The decision is likely to delay shipments of new laptop models at least until March and thus we've decided to hold off an update to our guide for the time being.

We should add however that AMD's Fusion platform is gaining backers among computer manufacturers for bringing solid performance and graphics to thin and light laptops without having to sacrifice too much battery life, so you can expect to see some or their latest design wins in our daily news coverage as well as in the forthcoming update of this guide.

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When shopping for a new laptop it's important to know beforehand how you plan to use it. Whether you want a multimedia or gaming powerhouse that will only move from your desk occasionally, or something that hits the sweet spot between performance and portability, there are plenty of good options if you know what to look for.

To help ease the hassle of going through countless product pages and bookmarking the ones you like, the TechSpot Laptop Buying Guide consists of a regularly updated list of our favorite notebooks in each of six categories: Thin and light, business or general purpose, desktop replacements, gaming, value/budget offerings, and netbooks.

Here are our highlights for this quarter, we've included a quick description under each laptop to offer some advice on what you should be looking for and what makes it special. That said, if we've overlooked your favorite system feel free to share it in the comments.

Ultraportables

Thin and light notebooks serve as a bridge between netbooks and full-fledged laptops, offering a smooth blend of performance, portability and battery life.

Business

Business notebooks offer a combination of mid to high end components with an emphasis on durability, data security and battery life.

Desktop Replacements

With the most complete set of features and performance, desktop replacements often forgo battery life and portability for extra horsepower.

Gaming

Serious gamers will always lean more toward desktop PCs for their flexibility and sheer power, but if mobility is also a priority, there are some solid choices in this category.

Value

Laptops in this category are usually hot sellers in the back to school season as they offer a good balance of price, features and portability.

Netbooks

Netbooks are perfect as travel companions or secondary systems. Most of them feature 10- to 12-inch screens and an almost identical combination of hardware under the hood.