The year kicked off to a good start in the laptop sector with AMD finally delivering its promised Fusion chips -- five years in the making -- and Intel launching its Huron River platform powered by Sandy Bridge processors. Fusion is doing well at the entry level market with limited competition from the Atom, but things haven't been going so smoothly for Intel. The company discovered a design flaw in its 6 Series chipset, which resulted in product launch delays across the board for new Sandy Bridge-based notebooks.

Because of the mass CPU recalls and postponements, we decided to hold off an update to our laptop guide an entire quarter. Now that the issues have been resolved and laptop makers are starting to get their latest designs out in the market, we are once again ready to bring you a list of our favorite notebooks in six different categories: Thin and light, business or general purpose, desktop replacements, gaming, budget offerings, and netbooks.

We've included a quick description under each category to offer some advice on what you should be looking for, as well as a brief recount of what makes each of the laptops listed in this guide special.

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.