1st Place: Toshiba NB200-10Z
With so little going on with netbook hardware in the last year, it's been a quiet time in comparison to 2008. Our winner, the NB200, shares most of the same hardware as last year's winner, the Samsung NC10, but adds a few refinements and useful features.
For starters it's a great design. It's wonderfully slim and chic, giving it the appearance of a far more expensive machine. Toshiba also stuck to using durable materials, so the NB200 will retain its looks far longer than most. Its keyboard and touchpad are also excellent, sacrificing little to the cramped dimensions of the 10.1in chassis.
Toshiba also added innovations, such as a sleep & charge USB port and a shock resistant hard drive. Most important of all, though, it had the outstandingly long battery life that any good netbook needs. All of which makes this a deserving winner.
2nd Place: Asus Eee PC 1008HA
It's hard to keep track of Asus' netbook range at the best of times, but the Eee PC 1008HA is still remembered fondly. An unusual take on the netbook with a distinct MacBook Air flavour, the 1008HA does sacrifice a few things for its ultra-slim shell - namely a removable battery. However the integrated battery still returns decent life, giving four and a half to five hours of use.
What's important about the 1008HA, though, is the design. The incredibly slim dimensions really accentuate the portability of the machine, and Asus has finally nailed the keyboard and touchpad for its netbooks. We might have liked it to be slightly less glossy, but the 1008HA was one of the few original additions to the netbook market this year.
3rd Place: Samsung N510
Variety has been hard to come by in the netbook segment, so thank the lord for nVidia and its ION platform. This was the first netbook we saw to use nVidia's graphics chip, bringing with it GPU acceleration of HD video. Naturally there's an HDMI port as well and the N510 is based on a nice HD capable, 11.6in display to make the most of its video playing capabilities.
Elsewhere the N510 is everything we've come to expect from Samsung netbooks. It's well designed, sturdy and features an excellent keyboard. It's not quite a world beater, but in a quiet year for netbooks it distinguishes itself.