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Best Netbook Buyers' Guide 2010

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Laptops make great Christmas presents, but not everyone can afford to buy them for their loved ones. Netbooks are a good alternative because they rarely break the £330 barrier, and can even be found for as little as £200. As with most things technology, however, not all netbooks are created equal. So we're on hand to help you choose the best option for your budget.

The most important consideration is what the person who will be using it will want out of their netbook. If it's just surfing the web and word processing, almost any model will do the job. If they expect to play HD and Flash video with impunity and run the occasional very modest 3D game, you need certain minimum specifications, usually including a dual-core CPU and dedicated graphics. For halfway decent gaming your choices are almost nonexistent, and you're better off looking at ultraportable laptops like the 11.6in Alienware M11x, which won a well-deserved Recommended Award.

The main area where netbooks still consistently win out over laptops are their price to portability ratio. Though ultraportables have become increasingly affordable, few proper laptops will give you over eight hours of battery life for under £330, while keeping weight below 1.5kg.

Join us as we guide you through what you can expect for any given budget, and check out the best competitors at current prices so you can buy the ideal present for a lucky friend or family member (or yourself!).

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