1st Place: Dell Inspiron 1525
Unlike the expensive ultra-portables, all-rounders like the Dell Inspiron 1525 are the sort of notebooks most people can actually buy. And despite it only being available with integrated graphics, as a notebook for the everyman the 1525 is great.
Its 15.4in chassis means it's affordable and easy to use, with a large, sharp and colourful screen that even the most short sighted user can get on with. It has an excellent keyboard, too, while the total weight of 2.7kg is light for a notebook of this size.
Its party piece is excellent battery life, offering over three and half hours of use on a single charge, while you can also choose from a selection of colours to add that personal touch. Thus, if your needs are simple and your budget small, you can't do much better.
2nd Place: Medion Akoya S5610
Medion has long been a brand associated with great value - wander into any Aldi store and you'll quickly realise that - and its Akoya S5610 is an excellent example of this.
For a paltry £500 you get a Centrino 2 spec 2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 3GB of RAM, a 320GB hard drive, Draft-N Wi-Fi and discrete ATI graphics. You'll also benefit from a few things normally associated with more expensive notebooks, like a USB/e-SATA port and an HDMI port.
So, though it might not be the most attractive notebook going, you'll be hard pressed to find a similar spec at this price anywhere.
3rd Place: HP Pavilion dv2699 Special Edition
We may have reviewed it all the way back in February, but this special edition version of HP's 14.1in notebook still ranks as one of the better notebooks we've seen this year. For a not unreasonable £750 it delivered an excellent feature set and performance while all the important bits, like the screen and keyboard, were top-notch.
Undoubtedly the highlight, though, was the one-off autumnal design. Finished in sultry golden browns and blacks it was a particularly special example of HP's ever ingenious imprint designs, making the dv2699 one of the more memorable notebooks we've had through our office this year.