The budget category of our back-to-school 2010 roundup collects retail-specific laptops on the lower end of the price scale, and should be of particular interest to students looking to upgrade their tech without spending too much.
Compared with previous years, and with the other categories in this year's back-to-school roundup, the budget-priced selections seem a little thinner than we'd like, with only one all-around standout. Part of that may be the economic climate, in which PC makers are less generous with features and components for budget systems, and have a desire to move buyers accustomed to $300 Netbooks into more mainstream-priced systems.
The Asus K501J-BBZ5is probably the best all-around deal, with a decent design and usable Intel dual-core processor (but not the current Core i3 found in more expensive mainstream systems). Battery life was good, but the Asus oddly lacks an HDMI output, so it probably won't be your dorm room media center.
Most of the other laptops in this category had either single-core Intel processors or dual-core AMD processors, which generally were not as fast or had especially weak battery life or annoying design flaws. HP's Pavilion dv5-2035dxmakes good use of its AMD Turion II processor, and was one of the more upscale-looking budget laptops, but some users hate its redesigned touch pad; we'd suggest test-driving one in a retail store first.
Note: Check out our roundup of retail laptops in all price ranges.
Check out details of each system below:… Read more