A laptop is a bit like a bed -- you will spend a good portion of your life using it, so you had better get something you love. Luckily, prices are falling on many models, so it's easy to buy a lightweight, high-performance machine without breaking into next year's marketing budget. Here are five of the best new laptops on the market.
BEST FOR AFFORDABLE POWER: HP PROBOOK 4510S
A glossy black finish and bright 15.6-inch backlit display make the ProBook 4510s a stylish all-purpose notebook. The 5.7-pound device has enough power to run Vista now and Windows 7 later, courtesy of a 2.1GHz dual-core processor and 2GB of RAM. HP's QuickLook 2 technology lets you view your Outlook e-mail, calendar, contacts, and tasks without even booting up. And the 3D DriveGuard feature shields the 250GB hard drive from bumps and drops.
BEST FOR SPEED AND STYLE: LENOVO THINKPAD T400S
Extreme speed meets extreme slimness in the pricey ThinkPad T400s, which measures only 0.8 inches thick and weighs 3.9 pounds, yet features a relatively large 14-inch display. The speed comes from the blazing 128GB solid-state drive and the 2.53GHz Intel processor, which allows the notebook to plow through the heaviest of workloads. You also get a well-designed keyboard (now with larger Delete and Escape keys) and a textured touchpad that's quite comfortable to use.
BEST FOR BUSINESS TRAVEL: TOSHIBA MINI NB205
The 2.9-pound NB205 has the same specs as most other netbooks (1.66GHz Atom processor, 1GB of RAM, 160GB hard drive) but lasts an impressive 8.5 hours on a charge. It has a full-size keyboard, a 10.1-inch screen, and the largest touchpad and mouse buttons in its class. Other features include an impact sensor, which parks the hard drive in case of sudden movements, and three USB ports, one of which can charge your gadgets even when the computer is off.
BEST FOR DATA SECURITY: DELL VOSTRO 1220
This new 12-inch notebook, which weighs less than 4 pounds, is all about keeping your data safe and sound. It comes with a fingerprint reader and spill-resistant keyboard, and you can order an encrypted 250GB hard drive for an extra $99. (A 160GB drive comes standard, as do a speedy 2.4GHz processor and 3GB of RAM.) The laptop comes with a webcam and free videoconferencing software. Plus, you get 24/7 tech support from small-business-trained technicians.
BEST FOR MAC FANS ON A BUDGET: APPLE 13-INCH MACBOOK PRO
The newest, cheapest, and lightest member of the MacBook Pro family combines serious graphics muscle with more than six hours of battery life. The improved LED display is easy on the eyes, too. And the notebook will get even better in September, when Apple releases its Snow Leopard OS, which has built-in support for Microsoft Exchange. The notebook comes with a 2.26GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, 2GB of RAM, and a 160GB hard drive.