With the old year now behind us and a new year full of new notebook technology already on the horizon, I'm going to look back on 2008 and present my top choices for outstanding hardware and innovations in the notebook market.
Best Notebook for 2008
If you're a dedicated gamer, the choice is fairly clear - Toshiba Qosmio X305-Q706. It's the best bang-for-the-buck gaming notebook you can buy, with SLI graphics, 5-speaker sound and a great keyboard layout all for under $2000.
For non-gaming, my vote falls on the HP HDX18t. Offering a speedy quad-core CPU, 18" 16x9 fullHD display, BD playback and HDTV tuner, it promises an entertainment experience unlike any other notebook.
On the expensive end, I would have to recommend the Sager NP9262. Priced at over $4200 fully-loaded, this notebook offers near-workstation-class performance with a 3.0GHz quad-core CPU, SLI graphics, RAID 5 storage with SSD, 17" WUXGA display, 5-speaker sound and a solid quality build. This is, without argument, the best that money today can buy.
Likewise, if you're shopping on a tight budget (and in these times who isn't?) my recommendation falls squarely on the HP dv5t series. Priced from as low as $579, and probably even cheaper when it's on sale, the dv5t is available in a very good looking bronze/chrome color scheme, offers the latest hardware options, very good performance, solid build quality and excellent value for money.
Best Netbook for 2008
My vote for best netbook for 2008 was a no-brainer thanks to the excellent HP 2133 mini note. With the functionality and full-featured design of a much larger notebook, the 2133 gives a no-compromise ultra-mobile experience thanks to a 1280x800 screen, impeccable keyboard, outstanding build quality and versatile performance. This is, without a doubt, a bloggers or editors dream machine, and the perfect on-the-go internet device. And if you are a power user looking for more than just a web browser and keyboard, the 2133 will impress you and get any work you need done. The price - $600+ Expensive? Yes. But worth it? Very.
Best Notebook Innovation for 2008
This choice I felt necessary, especially considering the barrage of new technology that will be released in 2009 to tease the enthusiasts and confuse the newbies. My top pic here goes to the hybrid SLI graphics introduced with the Toshiba Qosmio X305-Q706/708 notebook models. These notebooks use three graphics cards in total, one dedicated to 2D work and two more powerful cards dedicated to discreet 3D performance. The end result gives you outstanding gaming performance while at the same time lowering heat, improving battery times, and will contribute to a significantly better user experience than a regular notebook with a single or chipset-based graphics solution.
Another great innovation for notebooks in 2008 was Intel's quad-core mobile CPU. Why didn't I select this as my top-pick? Well for starters, notebooks were already on sale with quad-core processors in 2007 thanks to the designers at Clevo. The QX9300 and newer Q9000 were announced by Intel more than a year ago, and are more of a stop-gap necessity to enhance the Core 2 Duo line with a quad-core until the mobile Core i7 arrives in 2009.