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HEXUS Christmas Gift Guide 2010: Notebooks

by Parm Mann on 1 December 2010, 16:00

Tags: Dell (NASDAQ:DELL), Acer (TPE:2353), ASUSTeK (TPE:2357), Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), Sony (NYSE:SNE), Lenovo, Hewlett Packard (NYSE:HPQ)

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It's that time of year again. The HEXUS editorial team recently attempted a bout of Christmas shopping at Birmingham's Bullring, and the massive crowds coupled with the coldest November temperatures since 1985 have convinced us to realise an obvious truth; it's easier, warmer and more convenient to get your shopping done online.

To that end, the team has put heads together and come up with a series of 10 technology gift guides that we hope will help take the guesswork out of your 2010 Christmas shop. Over the next fortnight, we'll be suggesting a wide range of gear that we ourselves wouldn't mind finding under the tree come December 25th.

Today, we're tackling one of the toughest technology conundrums: which notebooks make the best Christmas gifts? We've cherry-picked nine of our favourites and sorted them into three categories; ultra-portable, mid-range and high-end.

Ultra-portable computing

Lenovo ThinkPad Edge 11

When it comes to combining portability, performance and style, few ultra-portable notebooks are as accomplished as Lenovo's ThinkPad Edge 11.

Available in a choice of AMD or Intel configurations, this cute little number touts business stability, up to six hours of battery life, a delightful keyboard and enough oomph to deliver on-the-go HD visuals. Oh, and it's available with a glossy red lid - kinda Christmassy, don't you think?

Price: from £420 at shop.lenovo.com

Read the HEXUS review

ASUS Eee PC 1215N

Armed with a dual-core Intel Atom processor and an NVIDIA ION 2 GPU, the Eee PC 1215N is a grown-up netbook that provides a welcome mix of HD graphics and above-average battery life courtesy of NVIDIA Optimus technology. ASUS's overall build quality could be better, but few notebooks offer a 12.1in 1,366x768 display, 250GB of storage and HDMI output at this price.

Price: £429 at amazon.co.uk

Read the HEXUS review

Acer Aspire One D260

Portability matter more than performance? A 10.1in netbook should fit the bill, and at a few pennies under £250, Acer's Aspire One D260 will ensure that bill doesn't break the bank. The single-core Intel Atom processor, 1GB of RAM and low-res display won't set the heart alight, but the six-cell battery comes close to offering enough juice for a whole working day.

Price: £249.99 at amazon.co.uk

Read the HEXUS review

Mid-range treats

Apple 13-inch MacBook Air

Impossibly thin and gorgeously finished? That's the latest revision of Apple's MacBook Air. The 13in model might be packing a previous-generation Intel Core 2 Duo processor, but thanks to dedicated NVIDIA GeForce 320M graphics and at least 128GB of flash storage, it's one of the most responsive MacBooks to date.

At just 1.06kg in weight, it's highly portable too, and the 2010 model now includes a duo of USB ports and an SD card reader. Did we mention it's impossibly thin?

Price: from £1,099 at store.apple.com

HP Envy 14

Got a £1,000 to spare but want something a bit meatier than the MacBook Air? HP's Envy 14 could be the right choice for you. A £999 configuration will bag you an Intel Core i5 processor, 4GB of memory, AMD Mobility Radeon HD 5650 graphics, a 500GB hard drive and an integrated DVD writer. Sure, the HP Clickpad takes some getting used to, but is there a better-looking Windows 7 notebook on the market? Probably not.

Price: £999.99 at pcworld.co.uk

Read the HEXUS review


It's oh so easy to get caught up in the big Christmas spend, but if you're hoping to keep costs down, ASUS's U35JC offers decent mid-range performance at a more palatable price. Equipped with a 13.3in HD display, the sleek machine offers an Intel Core i3 processor, 4GB of memory and two graphics solutions; integrated Intel HD and dedicated NVIDIA GeForce 310M. Close to eight hours of battery life is the highlight.

Price: £635 at scan.co.uk

Read the HEXUS review

High-end dream machines

Sony VAIO Z Series

The top-end Z-Series machine, model number VPCZ13Z9E/X, claims to be Sony's fastest and most portable notebook to date. It's hard to argue against that claim when you realise it's packing a Core i7 processor, 6GB of RAM, NVIDIA GeForce GT 330M graphics, solid-state storage, a full-HD display and a Blu-ray writer into its 13.1in carbon-fibre frame. It's almost worth remortgaging the house for, isn't it?

Price: £3,299.99 at sony.co.uk

Dell XPS 17

Not all high-end notebooks need cost a fortune, and Dell's XPS 17 is a prime example. Recently introduced to the UK market, the entry-level model - priced at a competitive £649 - offers a 17.3in display, an Intel Core i3 processor and NVIDIA GeForce GT 435M graphics. Bump up the spec and you can get Core i7 goodness, along with beefier graphics and 4GB of memory for just under £850.

Price: from £649 at dell.co.uk

Apple 15-inch MacBook Pro

We've played with our fair share of notebooks in 2010, but Apple's formidable MacBook Pro remains the one to beat. The aluminium unibody enclosure makes it sumptuous on the outside, and the 2010 models have plenty of power on the inside, too. The 15in variant, priced from £1,500, offers a choice of Intel Core i5 or Core i7 processors and NVIDIA GeForce GT 330M graphics. Pricing can get crazy if you opt for 8GB of RAM and a solid-state storage device, but what could beat the feeling of unwrapping a shiny new MacBook Pro on Christmas morning?

Price: from £1,499 at store.apple.com

HEXUS Christmas Gift Guides 2010

HEXUS Forums :: 8 Comments

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I want a Vaio Z-series :(

If anyone's got one going spare, I'll swap my iPod, lava lamp and laptop for it. :D
Stop recommending the Asus 1215N Hexus… :censored:

It sucks balls cos it regularly breaks the charging pin because of a poor design. Check the eeeuser.com forums for info…
No mention of the Samsung units?
I want a Vaio Z-series :(

If anyone's got one going spare, I'll swap my iPod, lava lamp and laptop for it. :D
We have stopped using them at work, so far 1 RAID controller failure, 2 Hinges going on the screens, 1 SSD crapping out, Wifi dying on another and one DOA
Sony has got some good offers in their clearance corner