Netbooks

Netbooks are perfect travel companions or to use as secondary systems for your basic computing needs. Most feature 10- to 12-inch screens and similar combination of hardware under the hood: either an Intel Atom or AMD E-Series processor, in single or dual core variants, along up to 320GB of storage capacity and up to 3GB of RAM. Integrated graphics are decidedly better on AMD's side, though some Intel based designs make up for it with an Nvidia Tegra chip.

They generally weigh around 3 pounds, have no optical drive, and range in price from $300 to $450. If you are on a tight budget or don't need much more than a portable machine with good battery life that is capable of email, web surfing, and simple document creation then this is the route to go.


Lenovo ThinkPad X120e

Lenovo's first machine based on the AMD Brazos platform, the 11.6-inch ThinkPad X120e is a straightforward update to the ThinkPad X100e, replacing AMD's old Neo parts with the long-awaited Fusion APUs -- specifically Zacate E-240 and E-350 processors.

The base model starts at $399 and gets you the 1.5GHz single-core AMD E-240, with built-in AMD Radeon 6310 graphics, as well as 2GB of DDR3 memory, 3-cell battery and Windows 7 Home Premium. An extra $90 lets you upgrade to the 1.6GHz dual-core AMD E-350 and a 6-cell battery, while you can also customize memory, storage space, or add Bluetooth connectivity. All models feature a webcam and built-in 3G.

Additional views:

Quick specs | Full specs Starting price: $399
Processor: AMD E-240 1.5GHz Graphics: AMD Radeon HD 6310
Memory: 2 GB PC3-10600 DDR3 1333MHz (1 DIMM) Storage: 320GB 7,200RPM HDD
Display size: 11.6" HD (1366x768) AntiGlare Optical: none
Weight: 2.9 lbs Battery: 6-cell



HP Pavilion dm1z

The HP Pavilion dm1z offers a great balance of performance, graphics, and battery life. Priced at $450, the system features a dual-core 1.6GHz E350 Zacate processor and AMD Radeon HD 6310 GPU on the same chip. It also boasts an 11.6-inch widescreen with a 1,366-by-768 resolution and ships with a full size, chiclet-style keyboard.

Features include a free upgrade to 3GB of RAM, a 6-cell battery and 320GB of storage, while also supporting extras like GPS mapping and an external Blu-ray drive. In terms of connectivity, the dm1z has 3 USB ports, VGA, Ethernet, a multimedia card reader and HDMI out.

Additional views:

Quick specs | Full specs Starting price: $450
Processor: AMD Dual-Core E-350 1.6GHz Graphics: AMD Radeon HD 6310M
Memory: 3GB DDR3 (2 DIMMs) Storage: 320GB 7,200RPM HDD
Display size: 11.6" HP BrightView LED Display (1366x768) Optical: none
Weight: 3.5 lb Battery: 6-cell (~5.5 hours)



Samsung NF310

The NF310 from Samsung stands out from the current crop of netbooks with a sleek, curved design and a 1366 x 768 display resolution which is a rare find in the ten-inch space. The 1.5-GHz dual-core Intel Atom N550 processor inside this system promises to deliver a smooth computing experience, while graphics come courtesy of Intel's integrated GMA 3150.

The NF310-A01's feature set is standard fare. It ships with a 250GB (5,400-rpm) hard drive and 1GB of RAM, Windows 7 Starter, it has three USB ports, VGA-out, Ethernet, a webcam, and an SD slot. Other than that you'll get a comfortable, near full-size island-style keyboard, decent speakers for a netbook and good battery life.

Additional views:

Quick specs | Full specs Starting price: $360
Processor: Intel Atom N550 1.5GHz Graphics: Intel GMA 3150
Memory: 1GB DDR3 (1 DIMM) Storage: 250GB 5,400RPM HDD
Display size: 10.1" (1366x768) Optical: none
Weight: 2.9 lbs (6-cell) Battery: 6-cell (~6 hours)


Other noteworthy options in this category

Asus Eee PC 1015PEM

This 10-inch system boasts a 1024x600 WSVGA matte finish LED display, a 250GB hard drive, dual-core Atom N550 processor, 1GB of RAM, Bluetooth 3.0, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, 3-in-1 card reader and three USB 2.0 ports with 'Sleep and Charge' support.

Price range: $370

Toshiba mini NB305

The Toshiba Mini NB305 hits the mark with a sleek chassis and solid construction, comfortable touchpad and keyboard, and over 8 hours of battery life. It comes with a 10-inch display at 1024x600 resolution, and a single-core 1.66GHz Intel Atom N455 chip.

Price range: $350