1st Place: Aspire Timeline 1810TZ
It was a very late contender for the prize, but ultimately the 1810TZ was the only product that could win this category. It is the epitome of what any good ultra-portable laptop should be. An 11.6in display is the perfect size for mobile use, particularly with the 1,366 x 768 resolution providing ample desktop real-estate for both productivity and multimedia. It's also slim and light, weighing just 1.4kg and measuring little more than 22mm thick except where the large battery extends downward.
That battery is vital. While the dual-core, Intel CULV processor provides the ample horsepower, what people really need from an ultra-portable laptop is longevity. The 1810TZ duly delivers, lasting close to nine hours in our testing. That's all-day computing, right there.
All of which is fantastic, but the real kicker is the value on offer. At around £430 the 1810 costs little more than some of the pricier netbooks and undercuts similar laptops, despite being manifestly better. For all of those reasons, it's the Best Portable Laptop of 2009.
2nd Place: Apple MacBook Pro 13in
While the unibody 13in MacBook of 2008 was a bittersweet affair, its replacement was nothing short of a revelation. Okay, so the battery is no longer replaceable, but some clever charging technology and outstanding native battery life means it's only a problem for the most demanding users. For everyone else the combination of style, refinement and comparable affordability is hard to resist.
Vitally, of course, the MacBook Pro 13in (as it is now known) brought more to the table than it took away. It added a backlit keyboard as standard, added a long overdue memory card reader and saw the return of the oft demanded FireWire port. Combined with the already sumptuous design and Apple's outstanding software, it's a worthy runner-up.
3rd Place: Dell Latitude E4200
We reviewed the Latitude E4200 way back in January, but it's still one of the best laptops we've seen all year. With a starting price of £1,179 exc. VAT it's obviously not for everyone, but any businessman on the move will appreciate its strengths.
Based on a 12.1in display, it weighs just 1.2kg yet manages to pack in loads of bleeding-edge tech. This includes integrated HSDPA, SSDs up to 256GB and Dell's innovative Latitude On Reader, an instant-on OS that runs off its own ARM-based sub-system. This means you can access all your important information with the minimum of power use, thus saving battery life. Combined with an outstanding chassis, excellent keyboard and faultless overall build quality, it's a worthy inclusion.