The 10 Coolest Notebooks of 2010

The 10 Coolest Notebooks of 2010

This was another strong year for new laptops and notebooks – despite the introduction of Apple's iPad and other tablets – and CRN has picked out 10 models that impressed the most. These notebooks include super-sized form factors to ultra-thin designs, with price points that cover just about every point on the spectrum. And while some folks may feel that notebooks are all the same these days, the manufacturers on this list have a few tricks up their sleeves. Let's take a look:

1. Samsung NP-R580

Elegantly designed, with excellent audio and overall performance, the Samsung NP-R580 is a 15.6" LED-Backlit notebook with Windows 7 Home Premium and runs on a PC Core i5-430M processor at a speed of 2.26 GHz. The Samsung NP-R580-JSB1US is designed for playing games, watching movies and browsing the internet. The laptop features a full-sized 88 key keyboard with spaced out keys, proving an ergonomic keyboard that's easier to clean. It features an invisible studded touchpad that lights up when it's touched.

The device includes VGA, Ethernet, HDMI, a chargeable USB, an eSATA/USB combo port, ExpressCard/34, a headphone and a microphone. It sports two more USB ports and a Blu-ray drive. The machine also includes powerful graphics processing with NVIDIA's GeForce GT310M GPU.

Starting Price: $669.95

2. Apple MacBook Pro 15-inch

The new MacBook Pro from Apple features extended battery life of up to 10 hours, Nvidia GeForce 320M graphics processor, for up to 80 percent faster graphics, and faster Intel Core 2 Duo microprocessors. The 15-inch and 17-inch models come with Intel Core i5 processors, which are up to 50 percent faster than previous models.

The new Intel processor-based MacBook Pros, which feature much improved graphics and longer battery life, are a direct assault on the standard PC mobile business market dominated by PC makers like Hewlett-Packard and Lenovo. The entry level 15-inch MacBook Pro, which is based on a 2.4GHz Intel Core i5 processor, features Nvidia GeForce GT 330M and 320-GB hard drive.

Although the price is high, the MacBook Pro offers a number of other advantages, including more memory -- now up to 4 GB -- and 250 GB of storage, upgradable with optional 128 GB, 256 GB and 512 GB solid state drives.

Starting Price: $ 1,799

3. Sony VAIO F Series VPCF13AFX/B

The Sony VAIO is designed for gaming and entertainment, and to that end it includes a number of multimedia features, such as a It includes a full HD 16.4-inch display, as well as TransferJet, Sony's close-proximity wireless transfer technology. It allows users to transfer photos from compatible cameras to the F Series notebook by placing the camera on the notebook's palm rest. The VAIO model also comes with an eSATA connection interface for fast data transfers with external hard drives, plus a 1.73 GHz Intel Core i7 processor and Nvidia GeForce GT 425M GPU for high performance mobile computing.

This Sony VAIO F Series notebook runs on Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium and has a 500 GB hard drive, 6 GB of memory, and a Lithium ion battery lasting 3.5 hours.

Starting Price: $1,579.99

4. HP EliteBook 8740w

A mobile workstation might seem like a bit of a misnomer. But HP's EliteBook 8740w is a 17-inch business-class notebook built for the kind of power and performance that one would expect from a classic workstation. With a 17-inch display and workstation-caliber graphics from AMD (FirePro) and Nvidia (Quadro), the EliteBook also comes with an Intel Core i5 or Core i7 mobile processor up to 16 GB of memory.

The EliteBook comes in a durable case built for travel, thanks to HP's DuraCase frame and HP's 3D DriveGuard, which helps protect hard drive data from accidental drops or impacts. The laptop's display also includes HP's DreamColor Technology, which supports up to 1 billion active colors.

Starting Price: $1,999.00

5. Acer Gateway NV7915u

Not every business-class laptop has to cost more than $1,000. Leave to a low-cost leader in Acer to develop a solid, stylish and big notebook for an ultra-compelling price. The Acer Gateway NV7915u runs on a 2.13GHz Intel Core i3 M330 processor and includes 4 GB of DDR3 memory and a 500-GB SATA hard drive. With a 17.3-inch HD Widescreen Ultrabright LED-backlit display, the Gateway NV7915 includes graphics processing from Intel’s integrated GPU and offers energy efficiency in addition to accelerated productivity. The Gateway NV7915 comes in a sleek honeycomb case design and also features a lot of the bells and whistles that normally come with more expensive laptops, such as an HDMI connector and HD video support, an integrated Webcam, full-size keyboard and Touchpad, and nearly four hours of battery life.

Starting Price: $649.99

6. Panasonic Toughbook S9

Panasonic says the Toughbook S9 is the world's lightest notebook PC, with a 12.1-inch screen and built-in DVD drive. The S9 features the Intel Core i5-520m vPro processor running at 2 GHz, with RAM expandable to 6GB, a widescreen 1280 x 800 LCD display with LED backlighting, and up to 11 hours of battery life. It also comes with Windows 7, a 320 GB shock-mounted flex-connect hard drive, HDMI and VGA outputs, and an optional fingerprint reader.

The new Toughbook S9 is a "business-rugged" version of the ultra-solid Panasonic laptop cased in magnesium alloy -- not to be confused with the "semi-rugged" class for harsh environments. With iots sealed and spill resistant exterior with flexible internal connectors, the S9 can withstand up to a 30-inch drop.

Starting Price: $2,499.00

7. Toshiba Satellite E205-S1904

Toshiba's Satellite E205-S1904 is a 14-inch notebook running on a 2.26GHz Intel Core i5 M430 processor with Intel’s HM55 chipset and Media Accelerator HD integrated graphics. It weighs 5.8-pound, includes HD TruBrite LED Backlit display, 64MB-1696MB dynamically allocated shared graphics memory, and a Li-ion 5800mAh 6-Cell battery that lasts up to 6 hours.

Although it includes 10/100 Ethernet LAN, Intel Wireless LAN (802.11a/g/n), and 1-eSATA/USB (2.0) combo port with Sleep and Charge 2-USB (2.0), it doesn't include a Bluetooth antenna. However, it comes with standard stereo speakers, a headphone and microphone jack, a webcam and microphone. And the big selling points for this Toshiba Satellite model is the laptop's sleek case design and Intel's Wireless Display (WiDi) technology, which allows users to stream video from the laptop to Internet-connection TVs.

Starting Price: $949.99

8. Lenovo ThinkPad W701ds

Lenovo's ThinkPad W701ds mobile workstation may be expensive, but this laptop comes packed with power and features that give it an edge over similar top-line notebooks. Along with a high resolution, LED backlit 17-inch display, the W701ds comes with a retractable 10.6-inch screen that serves as a second display. Customers who want an extra monitor for their desktop replacement can simply slide out the second monitor. The laptop also comes with a Wacom palm-rest digitizer and pen for digital content creation (DCC) and computer-aided design (CAD) tasks.

The ThinkPad W701ds also offers high performance with an Intel Core i7-720QM Processor (6M Cache, 1.60GHz) and Windows 7 Professional. The device includes 1GB of dedicated graphics with NVIDIA Quadro FX 2800M 96-core CUDA parallel computing processor, a 32- GB hard drive, and 2 GB memory.

Starting Price: $3,299

9. Dell Inspiron 15R

Remember when Dell laptops were the coolest brand around? Well, happy days could be here again for the computer maker. The Inspiron 15R 15.6-inch notebook is classic Dell, offering excellent features and performance with a compelling price. The notebook comes with either an Intel Core i3 M370 processor (2.4 GHz) 0r i5 460 (2.8 GHz) and includes at least 3 GB of DDR2 RAM, with an optional hard drive including up to 500 GB of storage. You can also configure the Inspiron 15R to include Intel's WiDi technology.

This Windows 7 notebook weighs in at 6.1 pounds and is about 1 1/2 inches at its thickest. Despite not being as customizable as previous Dell models, the Inspiron 15R has a slightly revamped design, but more importantly still offers workhorse performance for a minimal investment.

Starting Price: $499.99

10. Asus UL30VT-A1

The Asus UL30VT-A1 is a thin-and-light, 13.3-inch laptop with an ultralow voltage Intel Core 2 Duo processor a 1.3GHz clock. While the Asus laptop doesn't have Intel's new Core i3/i5/i7 processors, it does have Asus' exclusive Tubro33 technology, which integrates hardware and software to boost performance by up to 33 percent.

The UL30VT-A1 features support for up to 4 GB of DDR3 memory. It also includes switchable graphics that allows the user to go back and forth between Intel’s integrated GPU and the Nvidia GeForce G210M discrete hardware based on the power requirements and relative workload size. The best feature of all is that the slim, 1-inch laptop comes loaded with battery life; Asus says the laptop's battery will support 12 hours of usage.

Starting Price: $699.99