WOW!!! This year has gone by so fast that I cannot believe it is already the middle of December. Alongside being the first full calendar year of my blog, the sheer amount of work I've been doing this year has had quite an impact on my time here and the posts you've been seeing on lgpOnTheMove.
Since nothing much is yet to change between now and January 2010, I'm putting my "best of" recommendations out earlier than I did last year. 2009 has definitely seen quite a lot of interesting hardware emerge in the notebook segment. Some of the items I looked at this year are sadly no longer available, so I have looked at what is currently the best out there. And while I did not get to review as many notebooks here on my blog as I would have liked, my detailed research and analysis has resulted in the following top picks.
Best Notebook for 2009
One of the first major notebook releases for the year was the Alienware M17x from Dell. This all-aluminum-alloy encased 17" monster dishes out a 16:10 1920x1200 ultra high-resolution screen, dual GTX280M graphics cards in SLI and an Intel QX9300 Extreme Edition quad-core CPU with factory-enabled overclocking in the BIOS. Add to that a customizable backlit full keyboard, dual SSD drives in RAID, Windows 7 Ultimate and blu-ray burning capabilities and you can see that this is a notebook that not only screams performance, but will satisfy gamers and no-compromise power-users alike. Mind you, at over $4200 MSRP, I would expect nothing but a no-compromise experience.
Going on a much leaner budget - and profile - HP introduced the Envy 15 and Envy 13 notebooks. At under an inch thin, these models pack the newer Clarksfield quad-core and battery-friendly ULV dual-core processors. New display technology also brings us some extremely vivid screens with the highest resolutions available in a 15 and 13 inch notebook (1920x1080 at 15" and 1600x900 at 13"). The 13" model is particularly attractive for road warriors as it is the most compact, thin, light and offers an external slice battery for all-day computing on the move.
For the really economic conscious, I might also recommend the 14" HP dv4 series. Several models priced below the $600 mark can be snatched up right now from Best Buy. My experience earlier this year with the dv4-1225dx proved that this is an extremely capable, impressive notebook with solid bang-for-the-buck performance and usability.
Best Netbook for 2009
Following my amazing experience in 2008 with the HP 2133, I was quite keen to see what 2009 would bring for netbooks, and the year definitely did not disappoint. HP did not rest on their laurels either, and the Mini 110 builds on the success of their earlier models. With a larger, more comfortable 10" 1366x768 high-res display, N280 Atom processor, hardware HD video accelerator, impeccable keyboard, full wireless suite, 3G option, choice of 3/6 cell battery, choice of XP/7 and choice of 3 color options, this is without a doubt the most feature-rich and functional netbook available for purchase this year.
Another excellent netbook to hit the shelves in 2009 was the NB205 from Toshiba. I was fortunate to take a quick look at this model, and it is definitely a well-built and beautiful looking netbook. While it does not offer a high-res display, it is in every other aspect comparable to the HP derivative and an lgpOnTheMove top-pick. I really like the nice chicklet keyboard, 9-hour battery and choice of colors Toshiba is offering, my favorite being the brown verison. Priced at a mere $399, it is attractive on your wallet as well.
Best Notebook innovation for 2009
Clarksfield has to be the big deal for notebooks in 2009. The advent of the Core i7 architecture entering mobile thermals has allowed performance to increase 10-25% while allowing much slimmer notebook profiles. No doubt, Clarksfield will continue to offer newer processor models through 2010.
The really big news of 2009 though has been Windows 7. Microsoft did their homework it seems, and notebook owners reap the benefits of improved power management alongside quicker boot, sleep, resume and hibernate times. Got an SSD in your notebook this year? Windows 7 will take advantage of the latest hardware and features. In addition to using far fewer resources, the relaxed hardware requirements of Windows 7 allow it to run comfortably well on netbooks - something that it's predecessor, Vista, was unable to muster.