Holiday Gift Guide: Laptops and Netbooks

Giving a laptop as a gift during the holiday season usually means that someone has been really good, or you’r picking up a needed laptop at holiday pricing. Whatever your reasons, we’ve narrowed it down to some of our favorite laptops and netbooks to help you pick a gift that will bring smiles all year long.

Thanks for checking out the Gift Guide 2010 series. We want you to have a great holiday season so we have pulled together a collection of gift guides that make it easier to shop for everyone you know. These gifts have been hand picked by the staff at and have been deemed worthy of giving to someone you care about.

Netbooks and Laptops under 12″

HP Mini 210 – Starts at $329, $419 for dual core

The HP Mini 210 is one of our top picks for a netbook this holiday season because it offers a very portable package with numerous refinements over the last generation model including a screen that can tilt all the way back and the option for a dual core atom processor. The Mini 210 comes in five different color options that will allow you to personalize the netbook to your recipient’s favorite colors. We recommend upgrading to the 250GB 7200RPM hard drive for an extra $10.

Specs: Intel Atom N455 1.66 GHz, 1GB RAM, 160GB hard drive, 10.1″ display

[amazon_link id=”B00472O24C” target=”_blank” ]Samsung NF310[/amazon_link] – $399

The Samsung NF310 is a new addition to the Samsung line of netbooks which brings a new fin-like design and a dual core atom processor. You may want to vet this one with your gift recipient as not everyone will be a fan of the new design. With the dual core processor the NF310 will be able to handle flash video like Hulu and Netflix out of the box.

Specs: Intel Atom N550 1.5GHz, 1GB RAM, 250GB hard drive 10.1″ display with 1366 x 768 resolution.

[amazon_link id=”B003N3GG0Y” target=”_blank” ]Acer Aspire One 721[/amazon_link] – $409

The Acer Aspire One 721 is a slightly larger netbook that uses am AMD Athlon II Neo processor and ATI Radeon HD 4225 graphics to deliver a multimedia experience you won’t find on most netbooks. There’s also an HDMI port to connect the netbook to your HDTV.

Specs: AMD Neo II 1.7GHz processor, 2GB RAM, 250GB hard drive, ATI Radeon GPU with 384MB dedicated video RAM

[amazon_link id=”B0044XU34C” target=”_blank” ]Alienware M11x[/amazon_link] – $744

If you’re looking for a portable gaming machine, check out this 11″ gaming laptop from Alienware that comes with a Core 2 Duo processor and the options to upgrade to fast Intel Core i series processors and a 1GB NVIDIA GT335M GeForce GPU for gaming on the go.

Specs: Intel Core2Duo or Core i Series, 4GB RAM, 320GB hard drive, 11.6″ display with a 1366 x 768 resolution

[amazon_link id=”B003N3GGO0″ target=”_blank” ]Acer Timeline X 1830T[/amazon_link] – $599

This 11.6″ laptop is also packing a powerful processor (Intel Core i3 or Core i5) into a small package that’s light and quite portable. This one isn’t designed for gaming like the Alienware, but it will handle the needs of demanding users that want to do more than browse the web.

Specs: 1.2GHz Intel Core i3, 3GB RAM, 320GB hard drive and 11.6″ 1266 x 768 resolution display.

13″ Notebooks

Toshiba R705 – $749

Looking for an Ultraportable with enough power to get your work done and a price that’s on the nice list? Well, the R705 is exactly what you’re looking for. This laptop earned our Editor’s Choice award for delivering an incredible user experience for around $800. It also comes with a battery that lasts around 5 hours and Intel WiDi which allows you to wirelessly stream HD content to your HDTV with a $99 NetGear Adapter.

Specs: 2.26GHz Intel Core i3 processor, 4GB RAm, 500GB hard drive, 13.3″ 1366 x 768 display and a 6 cell battery.

[amazon_link id=”B002C7489S” target=”_blank” ]MacBook[/amazon_link] – $933.99

Looking for an entry level Apple notebook, try out the 13″ MacBook which is powerful enough to meet the needs of home users and students alike. The built in iLife apps like iPhoto, iMovie and Garageband add to the value and will have you sharing your memories or creating music right out of the box.

Specs: 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, 2GB RAM, 250GB hard drive, NVIDIA GeForce 320M GPU and 10 hour battery

[amazon_link id=”B0047DVVZO” target=”_blank” ]MacBook Air 13[/amazon_link] – $1299 ($1249 with student discount)

The latest Apple laptop is the incredibly thin MacBook Air which is a site to behold and perfect for your always on the move gift recipient, though you will need to dig deep to get this as a gift. The High-Res 13.3″ display offers a lot of room to work and the system is ready to go almost as fast as you can turn it on. We recommend bumping up to 4GB of RAM for an extra $100 if you can manage it since you can’t upgrade that later. Here’s our review of the MacBook Air 13.

Specs: 1.86GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, 128GB SSD, 2GB RAM, NVIDIA GeForce 320M graphics and a 7 hour battery

Laptops Between 14-15.6″

Sony VAIO EB Series – $599

The Sony VAIO EB is a real steal at this price and offers a stellar user experience in a stylish package. When we reviewed the VAIO EB VPC-EB33FM/BJ recently we were surprised that it came with a Intel Core i processor and the Sony style for $600. It also has WiMax if that is something your gift recipient is interested in.

Specs: Intel Dual Core P6100 2.0 GHz processor, 320GB hard drive, 2GB RAM and a 15.5″ display

HP dv6 – from $549

The HP dv6 was refreshed earlier this year with a new metal alloy lid and a focus on the look and feel of the device. This has led to a notebook that provides a more durable experience than you’ll typically find on a consumer grade laptop. The dv6 is one of our favorite 15″ laptops. Check out our review of the AMD quad core powered HP dv6z.

Specs: 2.4GHz Intel Core i3 processor, 4GB RAM, 500GB hard drive and a 15.6″ display

[amazon_link id=”B003UP90CG” target=”_blank” ]Lenovo ThinkPad Edge 14[/amazon_link] – $623

The Lenovo Edge 14 may be designed with a small business user in mind, but the laptop is also a great fit for a student or mobile home user. The 14″ form factor provides a nice size screen for working on without bulking up to the full 15.5″ display that comes on many consumer laptops and adds to their weight. Key features like a spill resistant keyboard and other durability enhancements add to the value. You can check out our review of the Edge 14 as well as the Edge 13 and Edge 15 laptops.

Specs: 2.4Ghz Intel Core i3 processor, 4GB RAM, 500GB hard drive, fingerprint reader and 14″ display.

[amazon_link id=”B003G2ZJTG” target=”_blank” ]MacBook Pro 15[/amazon_link] – $1,705 ($1699 with student discount)

The 15″ MacBook Pro is another expensive laptop, but if you are trying to find a gift for a budding multimedia enthusiast or as a gift to the creative freelancer on your list the MacBook Pro has enough power to meet their needs. We recommend finding out where they will be doing their work to see if they want the optional anti-glare screen.

Specs: 2.4GHz Intel Core i5 processor, 4GB RAM, 320GB hard drive and a 15.4″ display

Laptops 16″ or Larger:

Dell Inspiron 17R – $549

For users who won’t be mobile often and want a large screen at an attractive price, look at the Inspiron 17R from Dell which provides a 17.3″ display and a Core i3 processor for under $550. This large display offers a higher resolution screen that is great for watching movies or working on two documents at the same time.

Specs: 2.4Ghz Intel Core i3 processor, 3GB RAM, 320GB hard drive and a 17.3″ display

HP ENVY 17 3D – $1,599

If you have a gamer on your list that wouldn’t want the small screen of the Alienware M11x, take a gander at this 17.3″ 3D display that cames all wrapped up in a stylish package. The ENVY 173D is ready for gaming or working on multimedia files and the built in 3D technology means you can relax and watch the latest 3D movies or game in 3D.

Specs: 1.6Ghz Quad Core Intel Core i7 processor, 1GB ATI Mobility Radeon(TM) HD 5850 Graphics, 6GB RAM, 500GB Hard drive and a 17.3″ diagonal Full HD HP 3D Ultra BrightView Infinity LED Display (1920×1080)

Sony VAIO EC – from $749 ($999 with Intel Core i5)

The Sony VAIO EC series laptop is a desktop replacement computer that weighs in around 8 pounds, but it has a nice look, comfortable keyboard and a 1600 x 900 17.3″display that is great for work and play. We recently reviewed the dual core VAIO EC and found it to be capable for your average home user. If you are getting this for a power user we recommend bumping up to the Core i3 or Core i5 processor.

Specs: Intel Dual Core P6100 2.0 GHz processor, 320GB hard drive, 2GB RAM and a 17.3″ display

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