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Critics' Choice: Top 5 Budget Laptops | Page 2

4. Gateway NV7915u

Typical price: $680 Amazon

Pros: Stylish design; comfortable keyboard; above-average performance; good backup software.

Cons: Only one mouse button; sluggish boot time; glossy black lid shows fingerprints.

Worth quoting: "If Acer stands for value, the Gateway brand that the company acquired back in August of 2007 has evolved into its more stylish cousin -- the one that shops at H & M... This slick machine features Intel's peppy new Core i3 processor, a high-def display, and a 500GB hard drive for an aggressive $649. As long as you don't plan on playing the latest 3D games, this is the best-performing notebook of its size for the price." -- LAPTOP magazine review (Editors' Choice; 4 out of 5 stars).

Worth noting: This laptop has a 17.3-inch screen, which may be bigger than most mobile execs want. It's also heavy. LAPTOP says it weighs 6.8 pounds.

5. Sony VAIO VGN-NW270F/S

Typical price: $800 Sony

Pros: Blu-ray drive; great keyboard; large display in a relatively lightweight laptop; attractive price.

Cons: No media control buttons; could accommodate a bigger battery.

Worth quoting: "The VAIO NW270F/S features an extra-wide 15.5-inch widescreen display that's a beauty for both movie watching and Excel spreadsheeting. Also helping separate the VAIO NW270F/S from the sub-$1,000 laptop pack is its ability to play Blu-ray discs. Aside from its funky design and BD-ROM drive, however, the Windows 7-equipped VAIO NW270 is a fairly typical mainstream laptop, delivering a configuration and performance that are in line with the competition." -- PC Magazine laptop review (4 out of 5 stars)

Worth noting: This VAIO model arrived last fall and is increasingly harder to find in stores and online.

James A. Martin has covered mobile technology since the mid 90s.

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