Our Top 5 laptops list for January 2011 is dominated by small and light notebooks from Dell, HP, Sony and Toshiba, ranging in size from 10.1in to 13.3in. However, we have also included the comparatively huge Medion Akoya E7216 (MD98550), which goes on sale at Aldi supermarkets on Thursday 27 January. It's a 17.3in laptop with plenty of great features (including USB 3.0 and HDMI) and good performance, and it only costs $799.
Next month is shaping up to be a doozy for laptop lovers, too, as many vendors refresh their line-ups with Intel's 2nd Generation Core (or Sandy Bridge) CPUs. The new CPUs will offer better performance and efficiency over the 1st Generation Core CPUs and their integrated graphics performance will also be far superior. Check back soon for the latest 2nd Generation Core laptop reviews.
Despite not being very different to the HP Mini 5102, the HP Mini 5103 is still one of the best netbooks money can buy — if you don't mind forking out so much cash for a netbook, that is. It's solidly constructed, has 2GB of RAM and a fast 7200rpm hard drive, and its battery life is great. We hate the prolonged setup procedure when you boot it up for the first time, and think it comes with too much bloatware, but overall, the 5103 is excellent.
The Sony VAIO Y Series ultraportable notebook represents good value in our opinion. It's very small and light, it's nicely designed and it feels comfortable to use for the most part. Under the hood it features a Core i3 CPU, which gives it ample power to tackle office tasks and Web browsing. We like it a lot.
The Dell Inspiron M101z ultraportable laptop is small and light and offers decent performance for everyday tasks. It's the type of notebook you should consider if you want something that's about the same size as a netbook, but which offers better performance. Our only quibble with this notebook is that its screen is of poor quality, but that's to be expected for such an inexpensive ultraportable. Overall, we like it.
With a low price and lots of great features, the Medion Akoya E7216 (MD98550) is a great alternative to big-brand entry-level notebooks. It's a 17.3in laptop and it's not pretty, but it has a solid configuration and modern conveniences such as USB 3.0 and HDMI that really set it apart from the competition. It goes on sale at Aldi supermarkets on 27 January, 2011.
The Toshiba Portege R700 will impress you with its light weight, slim build and great performance. However, having a powerful Core i5 CPU installed in its thin base means that it's a laptop that also runs very warm, making it uncomfortable to use on your lap. We're not fans of its keyboard and we also wish Toshiba would fix the problem with its fingerprint reading software. Those quibbles aside, the R700 is still a tremendous business laptop for anyone who wants mobility in addition to fast performance.