The 10 Coolest Notebooks of 2009

Desktops and servers took a massive hit amidst the sinking economy this year. Notebooks weren't spared from a similar fate, with netbooks capturing a large share of the mobile hardware space. But that doesn't mean that cool notebooks didn't debut over the past 12 months. In fact, new technology allowed notebook makers to innovate in the space, creating some solid hardware. Here are 10 of the coolest from the past year.

Acer's Aspire Timeline series of notebooks have helped the Taiwanese company surpass Dell as the No. 2 computer maker in the world. The latest addition to the line up -- the AS1810TZ -- comes complete with Windows 7 and a multigesture touchpad. The Intel CULV dual-core processors help power the 11.6-inch notebook. Meanwhile, the notebook tips the scales at just 3.08 pounds but is equipped with a beefy 320-GB hard drive and built-in Webcam.

The Dell Adamo XPS is the most provocative looking piece of notebook hardware to been in 2009. The ultra-thin form factor is opened by sliding a finger across a heat-sensitive latch. The whole notebook sits propped up, so it's sort of like getting a built-in stand. The design marvel comes with an Intel Core 2 Duo (1.4 GHz) ultra-low voltage processor, a 128-GB solid-state drive and a 13.4-inch HD display. All that is packed into an eye-catching chassis that weighs just over 3 pounds, while Dell boasts the notebook is about as wide as a pencil.

Hewlett-Packard rolled out the big guns with its HP ProBook 6445b notebook. The business-oriented notebook measures 14 inches and can be purchased with a docking station for office users. The ProBook also has options for Windows 7 or XP, depending on user preference. And the ProBook 6445b is all about options. Users can choose between AMD's Turion, Athlon and Sempron processors and can equip the notebook with up 500 GB of storage and 8 GB of memory.

There might be nothing worse than the feeling you get when you spill a drink on a notebook. The panic that quickly sets in while the hardware dries off or reboots is usually comprised of thoughts like "what happened to that budget I was just about done preparing?" People like tough, and in January Panasonic gave its Toughbook 30 an update. The notebook is powered by a low-voltage Intel Core 2 Duo SL9300. The latest version of the Toughbook also gained a touchscreen to match the current trends in notebook technology. And of course the Toughbook remains just as durable as its predecessors.

Gateway is working hard to deliver all-day performance on a single battery charge with its EC line of notebooks. To achieve that, Gateway is building EC notebooks with ultra-low voltage Intel CPUs to reduce the amount of power the hardware uses. Additionally, the notebooks are equipped with solid-state drives to continue to increase battery life. Gateway -- a division of Acer -- also put the emphasis on style with the EC line of notebooks, opting for a silver-and-black motif with brushed aluminum palm rests. Thin is also in at Gateway, as the notebooks measure about an inch thick.

Lenovo was eager to embrace Microsoft Windows 7, this fall rolling out a revamped line of hardware designed to get the best performance possible out of the new OS. The IdeaPad Y550P Lenovo had enough foresight to double down on the recent technology upgrades. Not content with just Windows 7, Lenovo built the Y550P with new Intel Core i7 processor that was also released this fall.

The Y550P has a 15.6-inch 16:9 wide-screen display; 1.3-megapixel Web camera; Nvidia discrete graphics; Dolby Home Theater surround sound speakers and a battery life of four-and-a-half hours. The Y550P also uses Intel's Turbo Boost technology, which automatically speeds up the processor when the PC needs an extra performance jolt.

Never let it be said that Apple forgets about the little guy whose pockets aren't quite that deep. Earlier this year Apple refreshed its MacBook Pro line of machines. But the Apple notebook of the year has to be the revamped white, polycarbonate MacBook. The 13.3-inch glossy wide-screen, LED-backlit display has a wide-screen resolution of 1280 x 800 pixels. Also new: the entire multitouch trackpad acts as the button -- there is no separate button -- and users can click anywhere on the touch-friendly glass surface. And since it's multitouch, customers can use one or more fingers to scroll, pinch, swipe and rotate documents, images and applications.

No hardware list is complete without at least one good gaming rig. The M15x is the second installment in Alienware's "All Powerful" line. The bold statement is backed in a 15-inch laptop equipped with the Intel Core i7 processor and a 1-GB Nvidia GeForce GTX graphics card. The M15x can be built with up to 8 GB of DDR3 memory. Storage comes in two varieties, either a 250-GB hard drive or 128-GB solid state drive. With this system, Alienware aims to present hard-core gamers with a notebook that performs well with both video games and high-intensity applications that demand computing power.

Toshiba's Satellite A500 is a full-sized notebook, ready for Windows 7. The offering from Toshiba measures a robust 16-inches for easy viewing of YouTube or other media online. The vendor is touting its 1080p HD compatibility for high-definition videos online. One interesting feature of the Satellite A500 is the user's ability to customize the internal hardware, allowing users to pick from an Intel or AMD chip, adding another layer of customization to the notebook to ensure it is the right fit for users.

Fujitsu opted to give its flagship Lifebook notebook line a refresh in 2009. The 13.3-inch tablet is built on Intel's Centrino 2 processor and was revamped to include multitouch capabilities in addition to its dual digitizer. The tablet is aimed primarily at vertical markets, which allows for tailored sales approaches that will help customers get the right tool for the job. The Lifebook has a variety of configurations, but the specs can run up to a 250-GB hard drive with 4 GB of DDR3 memory.