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Tech Report - Back-to-School Laptops for Under $500

It’s time to start thinking about back-to-school and following though on that promise to get your child his own laptop. Even if he doesn't use it every day for school, it will be invaluable for homework - and for storing all those videos, songs and photos!

The good news? The choice among quality laptops has never been better. And the trend towards netbooks has resulted in evermore powerful machines at price points that would have been unheard of only a few short months ago.

If you’re on a budget but want a reliable name, value for money – and a few style points – look no further than The Online Mom’s Top 5 affordable laptops!

Gateway LT Series
Gateway’s brand new LT series is the ultimate netbook – a laptop stripped down of all the non-essentials and delivered in a stylish and ultra-portable design. The LT features a 10” back-lit screen, 160GB hard drive, and dependable functionality for everyday tasks like web surfing, e-mail and multi-media handling. Comes with Windows XP Home and is available in night-sky black or cherry red. Starts at $299.

Toshiba Mini NB205
Toshiba was late to the game when it came to netbooks but the extra wait has resulted in one of the most attractive minis on the market. The keyboard and big, comfortable touchpad are easy to use with the 10-inch display and the top casing comes with a choice of white, black, pink, royal blue, or sable brown. The NB205 series features a 160GB hard drive, 1GB of RAM and a battery life of 8.5 hours on a single charge. Comes loaded with Windows XP Home Edition. Starts at $324.99.

Acer Aspire One 751h
Bigger isn’t always better when it comes to netbooks, but the latest Aspire One is an exception. This 3-pound model sports a relatively large, high-def 11.6-inch display (the typical netbook is 10 inches) with 1366 x 768 resolution, which means you get a more comfortable viewing experience, whether you’re surfing the web, checking e-mail, or streaming video. The slightly wider chassis accommodates a nearly full-size keyboard, and it’s still only 1-inch thick. The Aspire One includes a six-cell battery for up to 8 hours of endurance. Starts at $379.

Dell Inspiron 14
A true notebook featuring a 14” hi-def display, an Intel Pentium Dual-Core processor, 160GB hard drive and 2GB memory. Comes loaded with Windows Vista Home Basic Edition and is great for homework or entertainment. Weighs in at a sturdy 4.96 lbs and comes with a choice of 7 different vivid colors that should suit anyone’s taste! Starts at $449.

Lenovo G550
Lenovo’s value-line G series notebooks were favorably received when they first came available at $650 - $699. The G550 is currently on sale direct from Lenovo at $499 and is the steal of the century! A 15.6” back-lit display, 250GB hard drive, 2GB of memory and a 6 cell lithium-ion battery for extra long life. Comes with Windows Vista Home Premium and an Intel integrated graphics package. Desktop reliability and processing power for a fraction of the price. Starts at $499 (limited time offer).

Comment by Alex Henning - kimaso.com, posted 8/11/2009, 5:09 PM:

Make sure you upgrade the inspiron to vista premium, if you want to be eligible for a free upgrade to windows 7.
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